Duvet Day

There is a knack to undertaking many tasks. Some folk have it and some don’t. For instance, some can calculate percentages and some reach for a calculator.

There are those who have the knack of wrapping up a gift to look so promising that the contents may fail to match the anticipation of something very interesting. Conversely, a higgeldy piggeldy offering with no disguise that it is a scented candle or Toblerone might be just what was hoped for, from a pal who has met your deepest desire at that moment.

My Granny would have said that one was “kak handit”, not with a tone of criticism but rather with a degree of empathy that some are less dexterous.

There is a knack to turning out crispy melt in the mouth pastry. I don’t have it but I make delicious oatcakes. If there is no hint of making an excuse, I have been more subtle than intended. The truth is I have failed to develop the knack of donning a king sized duvet with a crisply ironed cover. I definitely have the knack of very neat hospital corners. My Granny accepted that I didn’t have the knack of daisy chain embroidery, but she always awarded “ten oot o’ ten” for folding the corners of those freezing to get into linen sheets. I use a flat sheet because I don’t have the knack of folding the fitted style to avoid their extraction from the linen cupboard looking like a wrung out dish towel.

The duvet and its cover beat me every time. Inches short of the neat top seam, or so far away from the bottom corner and lumpy in the middle that I end up inside and could be lost for days.

In pre lockdown days, my bed linen change cleverly coincided with the always welcome visit from my granddaughter. It all became easy, a chatty time, and she indulged me with a smile for her “ten oot o’ ten for your corners”. She is twenty-two! Of course, visits from her and anybody else are not allowed now, and knack or not, some tasks must be undertaken unassisted. I tackled it with the resolve that if this was my greatest challenge of the day, then I must remember I was very fortunate.

Duvets weren’t an issue for any of us #vulnerableage until around the early 70’s. Blankets were the thing, toasty warm when layered between the fancy turn down of the embroidered top sheet and the candlewick bedcover. There is no denying that, wrapped around, a duvet moulding into every bit of you gives a sense of security, in the way a comfy blanket does for a child.

In the same way as the words tog value, down-filled or hypoallergenic have become common parlance, the term ‘duvet day’ has been established as a time to afford a person the opportunity to withdraw from the race, a euphemism for escape from a day when it is all a bit too much. It offers a retreat into the security of the comfy blanket, is just the job for recharging the batteries, and should not be viewed as a skive, but as an important element of the maintenance of well-being.

What has been increasingly evident to me during this Hunkerin’ Doon over the last three weeks is the exponential increase in virtual classes for everything to ensure that boredom does not set in. Not only are there learning opportunities from yoga to yodelling, bread making to basket weaving, we are inundated with invitations to live streaming of quizzes and classical concerts etc. So many groups, meetings and chat rooms allow for discussion and exchange of projects and achievements.

All this because of a perceived pressing need to ensure our minds remain stimulated. Of course it is hugely comforting to know that we can all keep in touch. Of course it is hugely stimulating to set new challenges to show we are making the best use of this enforced opportunity to make best use. Of course what it is also hugely valuable, is the acceptance that opting out now and then, if we want to, is okay too.

The only work I ever took home, frequently and often under pressure, was preparation to make sure I was doing the best job next day. But whether it was actually required or not was my judgment and my choice to do it.

Working from home has very different connotations now. There is the pressure of getting the work done, adjusting to the different working environment, accommodating what else is going on in the home, and processing the overriding concern of making sure that those indoors are kept safe from what is outdoors. No one could possibly fail to acknowledge the pressures on on those working in all areas we recognise as essential in this compulsory lockdown.

I wonder if there is a way to introduce a compulsory duvet day for everyone, on prescription if it allows a person to get rid of any misplaced self criticism for taking time out. It is not an innate skill, but it can be learned. And it is a lesson which we should all be taught.

One advantage of #vulnerableage is that we will have already latched on to the benefit of afternoon forty winks. But now we have the chance to go for the full whack, where cocooned in the metaphorical duvet, the only decision to make is which book or music or both, and the only pressure is the necessity to meet the need for sustenance.

So let’s hear it for an occasional duvet day. Let’s accept that some of us are lucky enough to have the opportunity, and hope that those who need it more and would benefit most, get the chance and learn the knack. Self compassion is not self indulgent. There is a skill to feeling feelings we haven’t noticed.

I never saw my Granny in a meditative pose, but I wonder in retrospect whether her frequent, seemingly unprompted, hearty renditions of her favourite song, Old Rugged Cross, served her as a moment of the Mindfulness technique we know about today. That’s a song I definitely did learn at my Granny’s knee!

Duvet days are required now and again but at this time of absence of hugs, a wee pat on your chest with your gentle hand works wonders. Trust me on this one – after lots of guidance and practice I have the knack!

I speculated on how many more times I would face a single handed wrestle, but decided there was no point in placing any bets. For now, the duvet is fully dressed in a slightly crumpled cover. It’s fine, I thought, til I noticed the misalignment of the buttons along the bottom.

Sweary word first, a wee pat of self compassion to remind me it’s no shame to be a bit “kak handit” , then ten oot o’ ten for a full, tuneful enough, offering of Old Rugged Cross

I haven’t lost the knack!

5 thoughts on “Duvet Day

  1. I’d not opened duvet days as I’ve honestly not felt the need to withdraw from the world I’m becoming accustomed with. However I’ve been loving the excuse to make a second pot of coffee and just sit in the garden listening to the birds and smelling new blossom.
    I’ve always agreed with the benefits of time to withdraw. Wither it’s to sit by a certain sandy beach, give it laldy to a catchy song in the car on a long drive, climb a
    wee mountain cycle along the quiet side of a Loch stopping to sit amongst the primroses of a certain church or lose myself in the breadcrumb like mixture crumbling through my fingers as I make a crumble.
    Sometimes wonder if mindfulness is a rural life as you stand sun on your neck casting golden shafts of hay high on a rick for hours. As I’m sure your granny would say No rest for the wicked! No that’s Hugh calling me to help in the garden
    Get off that ******phone




  2. A delightful read, as ever! A real comforter too, like the duvet – and the odd day devoted to it. The theme of self soothing is a really vital one for this time of isolation, and you leave us contemplating the things we do to soothe ourselves when others can’t, and how we might do better at it. Thanks, Linda. Look forward to next time! X


  3. Well, LInda, we’re usually ‘on the same page’, but not wholly with regard to ‘duvet days’. When I was working I had one particular member of staff who regularly took her duvet day,claiming it as part of the public sector generous sickness allowance. I was not amused! .
    On the other hand in retirement and in the current situation, when every day could be a duvet day, there are pros and cons. Great to have the time and flexibility to do just what you would like to do, which is a huge benefit of retirement. But having it forced upon me in lock down makes me hanker for my old routine however pedestrian it may have been.. Zoom meetings,on line scrabble, WhatsApp messages and the ‘to do’ list with very little crossed off just don’t hit the mark. As my mother, who would have said, ‘You can have too much of a good thing.’
    However, one thing I can identify with is the frustration of the dance with the duvet cover – definitely a fandango!


    1. Hi Trish, Thanks for your always welcome comments. I understand what you’re getting at but, I was thinking that there must be many out there working, who, if they can’t or don’t take a step back, will likely drop.
      The initial drive to make certain all this free time would not be wasted, led to a frenzy to sign up and log in to both the familiar and the new. A bit of time out might just offer an opportunity for a period of peace and quiet, or whatever it is that helps to re-energise.
      I guess the hardest thing is that, no matter how we choose to use the time, it has been forced upon us whether we want it or not.


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