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The housewife's tale

Cleanliness, they say, is next to godliness. If that is true, then my apotheosis is still a long way off. It's not that I'm living in squalor, exactly (if I haven't hoovered for a week, I will begin to think about it), but I'm definitely not as house-proud as the generation of women before me. Of course, I work long hours during the week and use that as my excuse, but my mum worked too and her house was always spotless...On Saturdays, she'd clean the windows and scrub the floors, and as a child, I used to love the smell of a freshly cleaned house. She hoovered, made the beds, cooked dinner and did the dishes every day, and once a year performed the ritual known as spring cleaning, when all the cupboards and cabinets got emptied, cleaned, and the contents re-evaluated before she decided whether they went back in or got thrown away, all the furniture and silverware got polished, and everything received a good wash down and\or airing...How is it possible that she could do so much, and so cheerfully, in the same amount of time I have at my disposal (less even, if you think about it, as her time was never her own, but her family's), and I can't?

I took the hoover out earlier today. I'd been thinking about it for days. But now that it's done, I can't help noticing that I've done it a bit haphazardly. I've missed a few spots here and there -- but I can't be shagged to go over them again. I'll get to them next time...maybe.

When I first started work, I had a charlady. She was wonderful. She cleaned and polished, and she even did my ironing. My living quarters had never been more neat and tidy, and I really enjoyed coming home to a sparkling kitchen. Sadly, after about a year, she moved away and I never found anyone to take her place. Not that I looked for a replacement very hard. I thought I'd save my money and do it myself -- after all, how hard could it be?

But I think you have to have a certain attitude, a predisposition in order to do them well. Me, I hate the household chores, hate them with a passion. They're a means to an end, and a very unpleasant means at that. They ruin your hands and nails, and they make you all sweaty and red in the face. So I postpone doing them as long as I can, and then have to do them all at once when I finally do get around to them. And then I just want them over with as quickly as possible, so the table top gets a cursory wipe-down, and I miss corners when hoovering or mopping the floor, and the annoyance starts to build again.

It also doesn't help that I've got cats. People say cats are clean -- well, yes they are, but they can't eat without spilling. They walk the litterbox sand into the carpet. They shed hairs everywhere. And they ruin every bit of wooden furniture and tear down the wallpaper with their nails. Scratching posts? My cats aren't clever enough to work out what they're for, and they stand in the corner unused, bloody eyesores.

Maybe I should move house again. For the first year after I'd bought my flat, I was a domestic goddess. No chore, however unglamorous, was too much for me. After a long day's slaving over them, I took pride in my freshly waxed parquetry floors and gleaming kitchen cabinets. But then I ran out of steam, and I just never got it back again.

The first Christmas card arrived in the post yesterday. And I wanted a clean house before I could sit down and start writing mine. But I've sat down in front of the computer instead, and don't think I'll get around now to cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom as originally planned.

Comments

gamiila
Nov. 30th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
I amuse my husband by insisting that we clean the house before the cleaners come. This sounds daft

No, actually, it doesn't. Mum's got home help now and goes around dusting before he comes so he can get on with the more strenuous tasks...she evidently thinks just like you!