Yesterday, May 7 2013, was the day it dawned on me that I had become a Bogota house-husband. My travels have taken me all over the world, but principally through Latin America, and in this bastion of machismo where the thick veins of sexism run deep, I have become an aeonian presence in our apartment, the citadel of marital contentment.
And I speak not of just one day where I had to prepare breakfast, busy myself with the dishes, cook and pack up a lunch for my wife to take to work, walk the dog three times, go to the supermarket to stock the fridge, do the laundry, fold it (I draw the line at ironing), organize the house a little bit and then ensure that the bills are paid…this has become a habit.
And yesterday was miserable. It rained all day in some shape or form in Bogota rendering the city impossible. Truly abysmal weather. I remember how it was when I commuted from west London to Godalming, first on my bike and then hopping on the train at Clapham Junction for the rest of the journey into the well-healed suburbs of the capital. Were it raining and grey – as is the norm from October to May in the UK – thoughts would spring forth of calling in sick, pleading with the boss to be able to work from home or going AWOL to Rio and changing my email address.
So, I knew exactly how Alba felt when she drew the curtains back yesterday morning to see the diluvio affecting the city. “Go in late,” I said, “not a soul will be on time today.” And I was right. And I busied myself with the household chores. I guess I get it, I’ve been there.
How has becoming a house-husband affected me?
In truth, when I tell people of my profession as a journalist, I hope they immediately envision a crusading Byronic type striving for justice in a cruel and unforgiving world, up against the trials of self-censorship in Colombia, and jumping nimbly from police helicopters whilst reporting on illegal mining in the interior and watching officials manually pulling coca plants from the soil in the zona roja. And of course, to some extent, I do report on issues of this nature. The only difference from the aforementioned swashbuckling image is that I am no longer nimble having undergone knee surgery which has kept me for the most part housebound of late.
The sad truth is that I can balance all of the household chores and write from home. There has been a major evolution in news journalism. On the spot reporting is becoming less and less the norm, although when I get the chance I leap at it. So much is done from a desk and interviews over the phone. Studying an interviewee’s facial reaction to a tricky line of questioning is now a thing of the past. I count myself amongst those journalists who thrive on observations, descriptions, imagery, legwork and investigation. For me it is a thrill to spend days in the National Archives finding some long lost detail. Is this completely disappearing? I guess not. Although watching the news and seeing the importance placed on “celebrity reporting”, real time updates, blogs (of course) and articles in the press that have been swiped from press releases with startling alacrity, one despairs somewhat.
So, I have had to evolve. It wasn’t all that long ago when I took the decision to no longer go on press trips. I had tired of producing semi advertorial shtick for glossy publications. It’s great to see your name in print, but, surely this has to be under your own conditions. I am not pointing a finger and accusing colleagues of mine, who are consummate professionals, as being sell outs, no, you pick your battles and you choose your path in this industry. I respect them for it. This wasn’t for me and thankfully I have been able to make this decision albeit an a posteriori one.
Perhaps my chosen profession does not pay so much, but, I can balance it out with household chores. I hasten to add, I’m not yet a “stay at home dad.”
I have started tuning in to internet radio and listening to talk shows, my social life revolves around a course I am enrolled in on the weekends, but, perhaps in more of a cultural expression of my heritage, in place of watching mid-afternoon cooking programs I am more likely to be found with the TV switched onto Fox Sports or ESPN for the midweek Premiership games.
However, must dash, I’ve noticed that we are precariously low on detergent and completely out of eggs.