5.02 p.m. Friday - the brunette in the stripey top streaks for the door, flashing a pass to get her through the umpteen air locks to let her finally out to the street and apparent freedom.
It's Friday night, nothing's planned. That's a ritual in itself. After years of going out and going hard in the week, the most exciting thing that gets done on a Friday night is turning up at beer club at my old company for a Brok or two. Not that this will be done on this night. The beer club mates are still out of town or busy - no beer club tonight.
Friday night is about feeding the soul. Which means doing things I love doing - not things I have to do. A walk to the post box, a banal act in itself, but the perfect foil after a tedious week in an unwanted office. A feed of hot chips, a weekly serve to stop the cravings from setting in. A trip to the macaron shop - not that it's open at the moment. A visit to Chokolait for a chilli hot chocolate dialed up to nine (I don't normally do hot chocolates, but I make an exception for these - Reindert put me on to these a few years ago and they are sublime). This is the ritual if I don't turn up to beer club, where I will dribble crap with old friends for an hour or so.
I've been thinking at the little rituals of my life - exclusive of the ones that go on at my Freemason's - which I'm forbidden to talk about.
My wandering along among the arcades and narrow lanes of the city bring me peace - as all good rituals should do.
The final stop on the walk back to the tram is to Spellbox, my witch shit shop in the Royal Arcade, where the wheel at the back of the shop is spun to obtain advice for the weekend. Wandering through the scent of frankincense amongst the talismen, tarot cards and idols gives me a sense of belonging. This side of me is hidden for the most part of the day.
This weeks message read, "The Wheel speaks of: Happiness and Freedom - Great happiness will be entwined with your fate; dancing, romancing, and joy for joy's sake. Knowledge and health, an abundance of wealth; a future to connect with your magical self."
It gave me a little hope - dactylic trimeter will do that for you.
Friday evening, once home, is quiet. A little television. A load of washing. Maybe hoover the floors. Maybe do the kitchen and bathroom floors - jobs so hated but so necessary. Maybe a little writing or editing. My book editing job is almost over, thank heavens. I have another Greek Tour description to do by the end of the weekend - nearly there. The ritual of typing and considering - not that writing about tours around the Northern Peloponnese takes much talent or skill - it's just the ritual of sitting, considering, writing and refining.
The writer's life. Look. Consider. Write. Refine. Write. Slash. Refine. Hope.
It's really what ritual is all about.
I've other rituals. My visits to Blarney's on the weekend. I drop over for a cup of coffee most weekends to see Blarney, Barney, her 18-month-old twin boys and most importantly, the Maow Maow. On entering, giving everybody in the room a peck on the cheek (has to be done - including if Grandpa is over from Launceston) I find the cat, pick him up, place him on my shoulder, and there he stays for around 20 minutes, or for what ever time is required - it depends on who moves first - do I need to sit and have a cup of coffee? Is he over being carted around like a fox cape. It's our ritual.
Other rituals are now coming into play as the boys are getting older. Bouncing the twins in my knee to the tune of "Row Row Row your Boat" , or "The Wheels on the Bus" are now in order. They're at the stage where they can sort of sing along in their joyous, discordant 18-month-old voices. I'm hoping I'll get a name soon. But there is nothing more joyous than the toothy grin of a toddler as he descends into your lap from a reasonable height. Chance has discovered that I hate being tickled - so five minutes of tickling has to take place before he goes toddling off to play with his truck. Lance, the more serene of the two likes his bouncing too - but he hasn't worked out about the tickling yet - thank goodness. Chance is a little bloody minded. Lance is the more laid back of the two.
Pump on Sunday morning, another ritual. Up the back of the gym with Jay on one side and Emm on the other, we have our version of brinkmanship - Emm blitzes the squat track - I'm doing heavier weights for the shoulders, biceps and back track. It feels good. We all roll our eyes at similar places - normally at the end of the back and lunge tracks. After class we go for a coffee where we discuss the rituals of Sunday afternoon. For Jay, a trip to see her mother or a game of football. For Emm, some studying, for me, normally a trip out to Blarneys or an attempt and taming my feral flat. Today it was just Jay and me in the back row - Emm's sprained her ankle.
My other ritual - a free Sunday night with nothing to do. I don't go out on Sunday nights. I refuse invitations on Sunday night if it is more than having my dinner cooked and nothing more strenuous than a bit of telly. Sunday sets me up for the rest of the week. Even if it's just a bit of ironing or reading. It's my night for me. It's comforting. It's enriching - it may not be very interesting, but it's what makes me tick.
I won't go into my other little OCD like rituals around running or the start of work (fire up computer, go fill water bottle, get a cup of coffee, email Jonella good morning....)...
A friend once told me that it was the little things that give us such joy. I never thought a walk through the streets, a cup of hot chocolate and a night in front of the telly could give me such comfort.