When it comes to domestic chores I could not in any way be described as a control freak. I was not blessed (or cursed) with a cleaning gene. On the surface everything seems pretty respectable and reasonably clean, but I really wouldn’t like Aggie from How Clean is your House to look behind my fridge (actually she was in my kitchen not long ago, but thankfully she’s not like that in real life!). In short I would really rather be doing something far more interesting, like reading a book, or filing my nails. I think housework is a feminist issue and I dont always blame men. Some women I know, have burdened themselves with it over the years by – and I’m going to come right out and say it – being control freaks!!
You know the sort of women (you may even be one) they own a lot of cleaning products, are very keen on anything anti bacterial (personally I think a few germs are good for you) and spend a lot of time talking about how much housework they have to do. Yawn, yawn yawn, there’s nothing more guaranteed to find me reaching for the red wine at three in the afternoon in an Harper Valley PTA type way, than someone decreeing they ‘have a pile of ironing to do’. As my friend Sarah says (or was it Shirley Conran) “life’s too short to stuff a mushroom”. Sod the ironing, do some real paid work, or talk to your children and make everyone do their own bloody ironing. There is a fine art to hanging out washing so that it is very smooth and doesn’t actually need ironing and children need to learn this skill at a very early age. As I used to say to MAD when our small children were going off to school with slightly wrinkled clothes, ‘middle class children always look crumpled, it’s a sign that their mother is doing something more intelligent than standing at an ironing board all day’. He wasn’t convinced!
I have to admit that I am quite lucky in this respect as MAD is a graphic designer and anyone that has any dealings with architects or graphic designers will know that they are very very neat – neater than the neatest person, from Neat Road, Tidy on Sea, Analshire! And the good thing about MAD (did I just say that?) is that generally he tries not impose too much of his neatness on me. He has come to terms with the fact I am a domestic slut and appreciates that I do ALL the cooking (that’s another story) keep things looking clean on the surface and arrange things in beautiful colour co-ordinated groups around the house. He used to try and organise me and engage me in the joys of domestic drudgery, but has given up years ago. Now his side of the wardrobe wouldn’t look out of place in any branch of Benetton and mine looks like Primark in Oxford Street at the end of a particularly busy Saturday.
He has never ever tried to get me interested in ironing because weirdly he LOVES it. In my eyes this is bordering on freaky, but I am loathe to complain as he is very very good at it, treating the iron as an extension of his power tool collection and ironing with as much precision as a heart surgeon (old school graphic designers used to use scalpels a lot and I put it down to that!). I can casually leave a very very complicated COS poplin dress on the ironing board (its always up in our house!), go off to have a shower and return to find it beautifully ironed with creases in all the right places. How fabulous is that!
MAD is also very fond of washing and likes to spend whole weekends finding things to wash (I blame his mum – she’s from Yorkshire!) and I have been known to tell him to ‘calm down and give the environment a break’. But still he washes, pegs out and folds. I think it may be a ploy to create more ironing. He has been known to text me if he has a day off work and its sunny but a little bit windy, saying ‘it’s a good washing day’! He is not however, as bad as my friend Rachel’s husband, who we jokingly say (but there may be an element of truth in it) makes you take your clothes off at the front door, so that he can wash them as soon as you enter the house!
Unfortunately there are other areas where his control freakery and neatness simply wind me up. Loading the dishwasher and packing the car for example. He sees these as some sort of art form, a new kind of Origami, with each piece having to fit in perfectly and precisely. Whereas I am more of the, cram it all in and shut the door, school of thought. One of my other slutty (I mean that in the old fashioned sense of the word) friends Lynne and I confessed to each recently, we often cram a load of stuff into the dishwasher after MAD has left the room. In a weird way this gives us some sort of satisfaction, so perhaps we are control freaks in our our own strange way!
At the end of the day, there could be worse things to complain about and I see a domestic/anal control freak Dad as some sort of role model for the teens and they know who to ask if they need anything ironed. Already I can see teen son displaying slight OCD tendencies, whereas teen daughter’s bedroom looks like a tornado and a large Tsunami has hit it and she never irons anything!
My work here is done!