July 8, 2013 Margaret

Dishwasher                I was thinking of writing an ode to my dishwasher.  Well, if Keats could do it for Grecian Urns and Autumn, I could surely do it for the machine I love so well.

          Oh! Item of wonderful characteristics and traits

        Close bosom friend of the maturing housewife

          Conspiring with her how to load and wash

          With detergent the dishes that round the counter-tops lie.

                That’ll do for a start.  The best poetry emerges from strong feeling, they say, and when it comes to housework, I have plenty of strong feelings.  And most of them are negative.  Anything that assists me in this battle (and gives me more time to write books) therefore, whether it be husband, offspring or consumer durable, I put on a pedestal.  My dishwasher has long been several feet off the ground.

It’s the relentlessness of housework that gets to me.  Cook a meal and a short while later it’s time to start all over again; wash the kitchen floor and two hours, one dog and three offspring down the middle of it, you wonder why you bothered; blitz the bathroom on a Saturday morning and by Saturday night it looks as if a bomb has hit it. It’s enough to make a rubber duck squawk.

When I was making my new year’s resolutions this year I promised myself that I would just accept that housework had to be done and get on with it, without sighing or nagging or wringing my duster into a twist.

Seven months down the road, I’m at it again – putting my blessings on scrambled egg saucepans, on a washing machine that appears to eat socks and cookers that only stay clean for five minutes.



I wish someone would do some serious research into housework, though.  It would be nice to know, for instance, if it rots the brain, or leads to hardening of the intellectual arteries, or if, on the other hand, those with a fondness for the job are happier and better-adjusted people than normal working souls who don’t know one end of a vacuum cleaner from the other.  Have house-workers, for instance, learned to be more patient or understanding than the rest of humankind because they’ve so often been faced with repetition and a mountain of ironing?

It would be consoling for those of us who have to engage in the business (even spasmodically like moi) to know that our labour isn’t going unrecognised and unquantified – to find out that we are a superior form of being, shining out like beacons in the night of human existence. That would be particularly gratifying.  It would certainly make up for scrubbing skirting-boards (while cursing) and hand-picking chewing-gum off a sofa.  We’d have status at last but no one has come a-knocking at my door to look into my psyche – at least not yet.



In the meantime I’m starting a campaign against television ads – the ones that lead to inferiority complexes in the land of housekeeping.  You see them washing their floors, all those people (usually women)  with their white-tiled kitchens and their cost-a-fortune hairstyles and you wonder where you’re going wrong.  If you wore your best white jeans when you’re washing cow whats-it off the floor around here your sanity would be called into question. And as for the dirt in those ads – it doesn’t seem to be related to the brand we get around here that never gives up without a fight. I’ll be campaigning for the dawn of reality on the box.  All cheers appreciated if I ever reach the hustings.

I’ll be suggesting a few other things as well, like a referendum on ironing (do we need to do it at all?), the cloning of family tastebuds to alleviate friction at the dinner table, the annihilation of flaky pastry from cookery books (life is simply too short), the throwing out of handy housekeeping manuals (they only gather dust), and the canonization of the person who invents self-cleaning windows.  That’s when I’ve finished my poem.  Now where was I?  Yes.  Dishes that round the counter-tops lie…..



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