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It's time for women to dish the dirt about secret pleasures of keeping homes spick and span

KIRSTIE Allsopp doesn't do the ironing because she has to.

She does it because it keeps her sane. The 42-year-old TV presenter and mother of four finds meaning in daily drudgery, she told an interviewer.

"I'm absolutely convinced that those repetitive tasks that one does every day, organising and regularising one's home, and keeping it tidy, are enormously therapeutic," she said.

Which is not far from suggesting that ironing a week's shirts for Himself is what keeps any working woman sane. Which, in turn, is going to make a lot of working women want to smack Allsopp upside the head. Hard.

Easy for her to burble on about the joys of dusting (although, to be fair, she drew the line at whistling a happy tune about dusting) when she's well enough paid to have a rake of household staff.

Easy to find dusting or scrubbing or ironing or the school run fun when you don't have to do any of them every day. Any fool can enjoy visiting a boring task. But when you have to do it day in, day out, the fun goes out of it pretty quickly.

I hear all of those dismissals bubbling to the surface, and I have no doubt that Allsopp's going to be well and truly chewed for her comments. Questions will be asked. Like: "Is this what feminists fought for?"

 

SLOB

But – whisper it low and from a defensive crouch – she kind of sort of does have a point. I've been earning a living since I was 16, fighting for women to make it to the top in their chosen profession for almost as long.

I'm a natural-born slob who wouldn't know how to make a sponge cake if my life depended on it. But give me an overflowing basket of clean damp clothes, a hot iron and a spray of starch and I'm happy out.

Nothing like the satisfaction of a line of beautifully ironed shirts without nasty pointy bits on the cuffs, unless it's the pleasure of taking every single item out of the kitchen cupboards and going at their interiors, top to bottom, with bleach. And then there's the orgasmic thrill of pouring vinegar into the glass kettle and seeing it pull the sediment out of the water, leaving it like crystal.

It's a pleasure not usually shared by other people in the house. Men, for example, hate the disruption of tidying and loathe the smells of housework.

Whenever I'm on a cleaning jag, the man in my life starts wrinkling his nose the minute he comes in the door. "Smells like a chipper," he announces. Or: "Why the hell does the house stink like a public swimming pool?" Or just: "What's that funny pong?"

I know several women who could afford to pay someone to clean their house who wouldn't consider it for a moment because they get such a kick out of the task.

During the week they think strong thoughts and negotiate difficult deals. During the weekend, they stretch to remove cobwebs and toss denture-cleaning tablets into stained vases. These tasks are mindless. They have to be done again and again and again.

But, oh, the satisfaction of the shining surface, the clutter-free corner, the metaphorical ducks in a row. And above all, the joy of not having to think, of embarking on a task that is uncomplicated by balance sheets, downward market trends and annual leave.

 

SLUMMING

Nor is this just a woman thing. The happiest men any of us know are the ones who walk around all weekend with spanners sticking out of the back pocket of their trousers. They may have prestigious careers, but they see no shame in slumming it in the garage with WD40, duct tape and screwdrivers.

Time someone like Kirstie Allsopp came clean about the female equivalent.


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