Women are often smug about being able to multi task but maybe a facet of the ability to be in more than one place in your head at the same time is the sense that we could and should always be doing more, an awareness that there are others lives we could live. Below, Sylvia Plath and Victoria Wood both capture the angst perfectly: Plath beating herself up about it, Wood raging with wit at an imperfect system.
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want…And I am horribly limited.”
‘I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” [The Bell Jar]
Well I’m sorry, God, I have to say
One life per person is not enough(Not enough).
I would like to live more lives than this.
If you don’t agree then tough,T,U,UFF.
There are other lives going on I haven’t lived,
Which gives me a sense of frustration(Frustration).
I’m not bothered about being Joan of Arc or Mary Queen of Scots.
I just fancy twentieth century reincarnation.
I’d like to keep coming back
And trying a different track.
I’d like to go round and round,
Cos I never feel I’ve got this right.
It isn’t a proper scheme.
I just want to let off steam.
We all have to have a dream,
And I’m following my dream tonight.
I want to be Mrs Pugh
And live in an Avenue.
I want to have bing bong chimes
And a bathroom with a champagne suite.
In my candlewick dressing gown I want to put Harpic down.
If my ironing smells quite fresh,
Then my happiness will be complete.
I’ll wear an apron when I chop my veggies,
Have tiny cactus on my window ledges,
Have a roller blind with scalloped edges.
I will never use a wok, so I prefer to stick to Mrs Beeton,
Have a hob which I then re-heat on,
Use my toaster with the ears of wheat on.
I will do a lot with Oxo.
I want to be Martin Jones,
A salesman for mobile phones.
I want to shake hands a lot,
Sit in wine bars when I make my sales.
I want to drink warm Rosé,
Keep saying, No way José
And live in a Docklands flat With a mortgage that’s the size of Wales.
I’ll keep my bottle when the market’s crashing,
Be super-cool when profits take a bashing.
I’ll cross the crossing when the green man’s flashing.
I’m a devil on a zebra.
I’ll meet a girl and feel a good vibration,
Give her flowers for a nice flirtation,
Three carnations from a petrol station,
Take her for an Aqua Libra.
I want to be Pauline Park And work as an invoice clerk.
I want to eat Lean Cuisine, Even though I’m eight stone three.
I’ll sit and I’ll fantasise About cruel men with piercing eyes,
Then I’ll microwave two mincepies
And have them with a cup of tea.
I’ll watch a thriller if it’s not to gory,
A mini-series if I like the story.
I think there ought to be more Nana Mouskouri.
No, I never have the news on.
Doctor Scholl will be my favourite sandal.
Higher heels than that I cannot handle.
Saw Barry Manilow and held my candle.
Wax was running down my blouson.
I want to be Vera Paige,
A dame of a certain age.
I want to have big red lips
And a cleavage that could drown a mouse.
I want to call all men swine,
Have visible panty line,
Have sing-songs on British wine.
I always have it in the house.
I’ll be known in all the pubs and chip-shops.
Dangly jewellery and sequinned zip tops,
Tracksuit bottoms and stiletto flip flops,
I’ll really be in the groove, eh?
Never take a bus if I can cab it.
Offer me a bit of life, I’ll grab it.
My libido would defeat a rabbit
And I’ll never clean the duvet.
I want to be Eileen Gumm,
Who calls herself ‘just a mum’.
I want to have three big lads
And a husband that I’ve driven nuts.
I’ll struggle and sacrifice
To make sure they have things nice.
I’ll give them such good advice.
They’ll absolutely hate my guts
I’ll make a bag for them to take their pumps in.
I’ll make pyjamas they can have their mumps in.
My mashed potato will have big grey lumps in.
I’ll control each family member.
I’ll make them gather round the Christmas table
And eat until to move they are unable.
They’ll wish that Joseph never found that stable.
I’ll put my sprouts on in November.
I think it’s a giant con We can’t all be everyone.
I want to go round and round
Just living every life in sight.
It isn’t a proper scheme.I just had to let off steam.
We all have to have a dream, And I’ve been following my dream,
Following my dream, Following my dream, Tonight