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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

Scurryfunging and Havishamming!

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Okay so only one of those is a real word! And the other is mine. Both have contributed to the festive world that exists for the week of Christmas. They are the bookends of my existence during this time.


Scurryfunging, as I’m sure you guessed is the real word and it reflects a near pathological set of behaviours that I can’t resist. It is the frantic tidying and cleaning one does before guests arrive. It seems that visitors are not to be made aware that we even live in our house prior to their arrival. The furniture has not been sat upon, no-one has eaten or used dishes and we have barely breathed on the pristine surfaces that might be observable. I’m not the only scurryfunger I know; I am, however, the only one in my family.

Christmas brings out the very worst in the scurryfunging community. We are not only assailed by unexpected guests but by the chaos of incessant food preparation, summer holiday lazing and the cruelty of the festooned tree dropping its needles.

One must be armed with the vacuum cleaner, floor mops and a range of surface cleaners to reveal a forensically pristine environment on the off chance that the footfall of the visitor is heard upon the step.


My family, however, engages in some significant Havishamming! This word is of my own invention but probably not only applies to my household, particularly at Christmas. The readers among you will know of the Dickens’ character Miss Havisham. She lived in a state of perpetual decay and disarray (not to mention clutter, dust and madness). She was jilted and to punish herself and the world she sat in her wedding dress and refused to pack up the feast that had been laid to celebrate the nuptials that never were. No amount of scurryfunging could have fixed the problem.


Havishamming then is the lack of desire to put away the things you used,  not packing up the stuff you liberated from whence it came, ignoring the detritus of your existence and adding to the disarray by having ‘’accidents”. Christmas week challenges the greatest of the scurryfungers.


And Christmas Day is in fact known as the Great Havishamming Festival in my world. People I know, and I must add love very much, seem to operate under the illusion that one unwraps the gifts and can leave the paper and ribbon adornments scattered willy-nilly on the floor and breakfast dishes can be left in the vicinity of the dishwasher and sink. Not in the dishwasher nor the sink but near them. Then during the GHF people will want to eat and food must be prepared which will in turn create further unruliness. Drinks must be consumed in varying colours and consistencies and one must use as many glasses as possible for this imbibing. And apparently during Havishamming no-one but the scurryfunger should wash any liquid receptacle. The more practiced Havishammer is simply prepared to move onto plastic cups once the crystal resources have been exhausted rather than wash-up.


This is all in the name of great joy and celebrating and once or twice a year it is acceptable for the scurryfunger to ‘let it go’.  To not feel the called of the bacterial overload taking hold of the dinner plates stacked not so neatly NEAR the dishwasher. ‘It will still be there in the morning.’ Apparently this is meant to be a helpful statement!


Now I’m not a curmudgeon or a bah-humbugger! And I can on the odd occasion ‘let it go.’ But I live with gold medallist Havishammers and they like to add to chaos by having ‘accidents’.


This is one example. The fridge I will admit was over-burdened with left-overs and the potential to feed ravenous hordes should they require it so I suppose it was the plastic wrapped chocolate mousse cake’s fault that the uncovered dish of yellow mustard pickles was jettisoned from the fridge as the dessert was extracted from the shelf. I have learned after a previous accident that red wine stains on the ceiling can be painted out but the turmeric in pickles apparently discolours forever.  Thirty minutes of scrubbing with a variety of chemical laden products could not remove sunshine yellow from the plastic surfaces of the fridge. Apparently no fridge could be replaced on Christmas night. No matter how much one wished it to be so. I would, I was assured survive the amber daubs.


So the week of the Great Havishamming Festival rolls on. Calm is almost restored for the moment and most stains have been removed, bins have been collected and the bedlam of the week whisked away.  By December 31st the worst is behind us and a new and wonderful year is close. And despite my resistance to resolutions I’ll have a go at being more at peace with the chaos of simply being alive.


So whether you scurryfunge or havisham (now a verb) may your family and friends bring you great happiness. I hope you all approach the coming of 2018 with optimism, love, health and the great joy of living.

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