On Sunday afternoon, after months of feeble excuses, I decide to tackle what appears to be an enormous task. I undertake to tidy my dressing table. It is inches deep in the detritus of dressing and undressing: discarded jewellery, price labels and hanging tags from new clothes, odd coins and pens and business cards that have been turned out of jacket or trouser pockets. The Victorian honey-coloured pine surface is completely hidden from view.
Tidying my dressing table is not my favourite task, which is why I have ignored it for so long. In the half light of early mornings and the dimmed lamps of late nights, I never really scrutinise it, so the muddle bothers me far less than if it were on the kitchen table. The only reason I am bothering to tackle it now is that otherwise I will have no moral high ground from which to make my daughter clear up her dressing table, now competing with mine in the untidiness stakes.
I grit my teeth, put on my Ipod (that invaluable mental anaesthetic) and wonder how many podcasts it will take before I’ve completed my task. I click on my favourite, The News Quiz , and swiftly fall into the meditative, methodical rhythm of tidying.
I locate lost necklaces, reunite long parted pairs of earrings, and accumulate quite a stash of beribboned clothing tags for my cardboard recycling box. (Can I really have bought so many new clothes lately? Erm, no – it’s just an awfully long time since I last culled the discarded labels.)
I restore to centre stage a favourite antique lace mat and a colourful binca mat that my daughter cross-stitched for me last Mother’s Day under her Grandma’s artistic direction by Grandma. I rearrange the chipped but beautiful mulberry Bavarian glass dishes that once belonged to my own Grandma. With a neatness bordering on OCD, I align the numerous necklaces draped over the corners of the hinged mirror. My dressing table is starting to resemble an exotic shrine – and all before The News Quiz is half way through. Stepping back to admire the new order, I feel a sense of calm creeping osmotically from this harmonious little scene into the depths of my soul.
This tidying business really is therapeutic. I continue to feel a little glow of satisfaction every time I walk past the dressing table, even now, two days on. So why did I wait so long to do it? I really must not procrastinate like this again. Now that I can see the mirror again, perhaps I ought to write across it a note in lipstick to remind myself: The best way to get something done is to do it.