I am plagued with questions. Not in the same way that my insatiably curious middle child wants to know everything about everything (especially if it’s about trains or bridges), but there are aspects of Life which trouble me, and make me wonder.
I mean, why is it that my beans are looking so yellow and unloved, when Mr Neighbour’s are romping up his rather expert looking framework thing? Why does the husband only water his own plants? Does he have something against my beans? Is he afraid of the beans? And, while I’m thinking about it, why is it that I can only ever smell next door’s dinner cooking when it’s fish? Do they only eat sandwiches for all other meals?
There are many inside domestic matters about which I am confused too. For instance, and this has been puzzling me greatly for the last couple of weeks or so: where have all the single sheets gone? There used to be millions of them. Back in the day, when the boys were little, if it wasn’t a wet bed it was a sicked-on bed; the washing was continuous and I had multiple sets of bedding, but now? Gone.
Strangely, every single sheet in the airing cupboard appears to be a double one. All of the duvet covers and pillow cases are there, and all the cot bedding too (it’s bound to come in useful – it’s a teacher thing, OK?), I know this because I have emptied and reorganised my airing cupboard several times in my quest to solve the conundrum.
Have they grown? Is there a mouse palace, somewhere under the floorboards, carpeted and wallpapered with single sheets? Are they getting up to no good with the towels and somehow mutating? Is there something going on in my airing cupboard that I should know about? Things disappear in my house, usually to turn up, usually somewhere in the sofa, but not these. It is very troublesome.
A lot of the time I can find an answer to my questions. Why is Sam awake so early in the morning? Ah, we appear to have forgotten to pull down the blackout blind. Why are the children fighting? Ah, they appear to be hungry. Why is there pandemonium breaking out at the back of the class? Ah, there appears to be a bee. Usually, I can cobble together some sort of an answer.
Sometimes, though, I need to do some work to find out the answer. Like, go and read some books or something, talk to someone more experienced than me. Get my phone out and press the google app (that one is especially useful for finding out the names and dates of things that are sitting in my brain, but, somehow, just out of reach). The more pressing the question, the more quickly I turn to sources of expertise.
Most of the time, the answers to my questions are readily available. The internet is stuffed with information, some of it useful, some of it not so much; libraries around the world are filled to the rafters with the peer reviewed (hopefully) efforts at answering Hard Questions from Those With Enormous Brains.
Sometimes they find out something so astonishingly groundbreaking, so counterintuitively shocking that no-one really wants to take notice, because doing so would mean taking a good long, honest, look at ourselves. Sometimes, the answer involves making some sort of costly change – or any kind of change, for that matter, and nobody really wants to do that. Sometimes, Those of Enormous Brain find out something so blindingly obvious to everyone else that we all tut, raise our eyes to heaven and dismisses everything else the Brainy Ones ever say ever again, while wondering to ourselves how anyone could get paid to answer a ridiculous question like that when a quick ask around would have done the trick just as well.
And sometimes, what is found out, instead of being shouted from the rooftops, like the latest Down’s syndrome test story, because it is couched in inaccessible academic language, or the answer is so hedged about with caveats that everyone wonders what it was that was being said at all or thinks it’s entirely irrelevant and nothing to do with them (see above), or someone finds something out that it is in someone else’s vested interests to quash, to hide, to gently shelve to gather dust somewhere nice and quiet, that the story doesn’t get told. It remains secret, hidden in an ivory tower.
But mostly I reckon it’s money. And power.