Except, that it reminded me of the early 1980s, when there seemed to be great pressure to be busy all the time. It was a common occurrence, that a woman would declare that she was constantly on the go and that she felt guilty if she ever took a break and sat down with a book or did anything for herself. In saying how wrong she was to take this attitude – ‘my problem is, of course, that I’m a perfectionist. I’m just too conscientious’ – the more vehement she was, the more she was actually boasting about it. And others would agree with her and they’d all declare how stressed and busy they were all the time.
My answer was not an affectation because it was true, but I have to admit that it was deliberate – I intended to wrong-foot – when I reacted with great sympathy. I needed loads of time to myself and would happily leave the washing up if I wanted to read a book, I declared. “It all gets done in the end. I don’t feel guilty because I’m not doing anything wrong.”
I wasn’t being entirely naughty, I did mean it. There was a prevalent feeling that a woman had to do everything and many young women felt guilty at the prospect of employing someone to help in the house, even if they worked full time and had young children to look after too. And some of them couldn’t afford not to be constantly on the go, and I don’t mean them, they just got on with the work and didn’t talk about it. It was the ones who boasted about a level of stress and busyness that I knew either wasn’t true or wasn’t necessary that irritated me.