If you are newly widowed you will be feeling anything but bloody merry. It took me twenty years to be glad I didn't have to iron shirts, produce homemade cakes or buy groceries for two. Actually the second part of that sentence is a lie. I never did produce homemade cakes and if his lordship tried to insist, I baked stuff that would have driven any decent man to a dentist. He was a lovely lad, my husband and had beautiful teeth so it was all a bit difficult really.
Firstly, seriously, don't try to do everything. If you can afford help get it. I have my lovely Howard to sort the garden, a window cleaner who needs nothing but a cup of tea, (two sugars), and recently a smashing lady to do my house. When she comes I go out and work and do research and eat lots of chocolate.
Last week I took myself to the Fat Buddha and had honey chilli chicken and a large glass of Chardonnay.
The other thing is and it took me a long time to sort this one out as well - don't try to be the perfect parent. Your kids will never work out that there is only one of you and that you are not there to solve their problems, prop up their bank accounts and listen to their moans when you have a) work to do, b) an excellent meal getting cold, or c) a glass of champagne which is rapidly warming. Train the little buggers not to phone in the middle of a decent film or a good conversation. When you die they will inherit everything unless you are peeing your knickers in a nursing home by then and in that case they put you there so don't deserve anything.
Secondly, or thirdly if you read the last paragraph, don't expect to marry Brad Pitt. Angelina Jolie was there before you. I have just recently accepted this. To be fair nobody ever wanted to marry me and although I blamed God at the time I am quite relieved now. I won't be looking after any man in his dotage, won't ever have to watch sport, can lie in bed all day if I want to and have made a habit of chatting up young men in supermarkets. They don't seem to mind, since I am wearing a purple fur coat and a purple hat they know I'm dotty anyway.
I have recently gone back to cooking. It has taken me twenty six years. My kitchen now is full of the smells of good bread and chillies and ginger and garlic. My evenings are spent stirring things in pans and wondering where I put my second best wooden spoon. In between, I drink wine and do bits on my current book which I either think is the best thing since Anthony Trollope - yes, I do go on a lot about him, I know, but he is my favourite author - or is the biggest load of garbage in the history of writing and is too bad even to inhabit my bin.
Being widowed means you don't have to live in the country. I do love the country and spend a lot of time there but it can be very boring. There are no theatres, no cinemas, no cathedral. Awful really. Shops sell lemon yellow cardigans and have never heard of a chocolate croissant.The country roads are not just full of tractors, I can deal with the odd tractor, it's the bloody cyclists and I don't mean motor. Farmers spread muck on the fields and I can always find the odd sheep with a limp. The bends in the roads have spattered dead pheasants and run over moggies.
Nextly try not to drink coke. It's undignified at our age. Some people think it's better for you than alcohol. If you want to ruin your teeth with fizzy stuff go to Majestic wine and buy Chandon from Argentina. It's made by Moet and is the nearest thing you can get to champagne for thirteen quid. You have to buy two bottles of course but that's never been a problem for me.
Lastly, please don't talk about your grandchildren to people who don't have any. Either they wish they had or they are bored witless. It's bad enough them having to listen to me going on about how intelligent and charming and about to take on the whole world is my only child. She is, you know.
And lastly again, being widowed is awful, it's lonely, it's painful and nobody understands. Someone once described a widow as 'a bird with a broken wing'. Well, all I can say is 'up yours, mate!' Get out there, people and fly!!!