| 23.6°C Dublin

Forget the holiday, I really want my dishwasher back

As you read this the sun is spilling in through the door of our rented cottage in an Irish holiday resort.

But I have my back to it. I'm about to face into another gigantic mound of dishes which has accumulated in the tiny sink.

Dinky little sink, really. It looks designed for rinsing out two glasses after the nightly G and Ts.

Not for spag bog times six with associated plates, pots, chopping boards, chopping knives, frying pans, I can tell you that.

Only a couple of the said items can go in the sink at any one time so the others sit on the cooker or the floor until their bath is ready for them.

Then, when everything is finally clean, it gets heaped up on the side of the sink.

So you don't have a rota, you're saying accusingly. Of course I have a rota. It's a nice thing, a rota. It sdds to the interest of the holiday in fact.

Only thing is, when you need to dish up another of their interminable meals, there are no clean dishes.

So far, the rota has not been much use in achieving actual dish cleanliness. It's more a talking point, a useful tool when we're role-playing parenting.

What I need, instead, is a big mammy in an apron.

I want to go on holiday in a boarding house with a big mammy who serves us up rashes and sausages and big floury spuds.


Such a holiday was once possible for ordinary people. I remember having one myself when I was a kid.

A great big West Cork mammy fed us three times a day for a week in her great big West Cork farmhouse.

Imagine it! Coming down every morning to your fry. Walking away from your fry leaving her to scrape the fat off the plates.

I remember all the families having dinner at little tables in her sitting-room.

We all had home-made soup, joints of meat and big chocolatey dessert with custard.

A little girl from up the road helped her and sometimes she sang to us after our dinner.

God help us, it sounds like a scene from James Joyce. Every year I sound more and more like I should be in an interpretative centre.

But where did it all go wrong, I ask myself? Why can I not afford what my parents could?

I guess those big Irish mammies had enough of scraping my dinner off their plates and country girls don't sing to Dubliners any more.

They all started looking for something that paid better. The cost of catered accommodation shot up.

And "self-catering" took off in caravan parks and mobile homes.

Then in 1987 came the dreaded tax incentives for holiday homes in seaside resorts.

So men who built holiday villages could write off tax on making women go on "mammy-catering" holidays.

And now they're all over the country, these developments of prison cells for mammies who take their work on holiday and families whose standards have gone through the roof.

They're looking for exactly the same grub as they get at home except five times as much because of all that lovely seaside air.

Just run away mammy, you say?

Sorry, but there's been as the explosion in the numbers of "mammy-catering" apartments in holiday resorts abroad.


Very hard to click on the "half-board" option when self-catering is winking from the screen at a much lower price.

Even when the reduction is due to the unpaid work of mammies who are going to do the catering on their holidays.

In the heat. With no dishwasher.

Mammies who work very hard all year and deserve a holiday too.

Like so many other things, it makes you wonder whether women are going forwards or backwards, doesn't it?

But hell, I don't have the time for this, I'm on holiday.

The sun is shining, the sea is beckoning.

I'll have the house to myself as I get on with the dishes, crying "I want a mammy in a big apron" into the sudsy water.