In defence of escapism.
Darcy sat gazing out of the window, marvelling at the frosted snowflakes gently blowing out of the sky. Outside, the world was wrapped in a fresh mantle of clean, cold snow. Ensconced in the warmth of the café, gently cradling a piping hot mocha, she could dream of Jamie, savouring the taste of her double chocolate, almond and cranberry muffin with frosted pink rose scented glaze…..
I have read a lot of chic lit – that brand of rather uniquely sexist literature that fascionistas decry because they say it only appeals to the lazy instincts of womankind. Woman meets man, loses man, finds him again; or woman loses man, finds herself, finds a better man; we are prone to scoffing at such easy, soft options for reading, as if by not reading Proust, or the latest discoveries unearthed within the pages of ‘Archaeology Now’, we are letting down the side, betraying the freedoms for which our older sisters and mothers fought so hard.
But what if the lot of women is already hard? What if the first thing woman does when she rises at seven, is to put away the laundry, open the curtains and make the beds? What if, when she reaches the kitchen and is within hailing distance of her breakfast, the first thing she sees is the pile of unwashed dishes in the sink? There is not much room there, for escapism, and precious little to look forward to, unless, of course, she is that delightful fiction of mankind, the woman who enjoys cleaning and clearing, and finds daily menus a delightful challenge. Sometimes, I would like to feel like that, but mostly, I fail miserably.
There are times when our daily worries and preoccupations become a bit heavy, like a bit of homemade wholemeal (try saying that in a hurry) bread that stubbornly refuses to rise. There are times when futility stands her ground and mocks. And there are times when sheer loneliness can become a bit overpowering. Held down by such feelings, chic lit, gentle escapism, and happy fluffy dreams are a vital escape, allowing the mind to lift, and then find solutions, strength and new resolve. If Alice in her cupcake shop can tell the CEO of a large multi-national corporation that she is not interested in promotion, then I can find the steely resolve I need, too, to withstand long periods of soul destroying silence, failures in communication and the demands that everyone makes on my time.
And if I am thinking nice thoughts about cuddly people, there is just a chance that, in that gentle breathing space, creative solutions will have a chance to find me. Yes, I deserve to be creative, to dream and to have fun. If the best place for that is between the pages of a too-big book, then so be it.