Thursday 1st December
So, another month passes, and what more important subject to discuss than whether to use a dishwasher or carry on washing up by hand. Forget the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement; a tacit admission of failure – not that the other lot’s slower recipe of cuts and tax rises would have been guaranteed to work either; forget the Euro-zone crisis, forget the windy squally weather, and bask in these reflections of real merit.
As a child growing up I did the washing up, well, after breakfast and dinner anyway. This was my task, one of the little jobs I was given, and ever eager to please I never considered it a chore; children growing up in the fifties were encouraged to help around the house, not like today’s pampered little monsters who would downright refuse to just run the hoover over, or take the washing out of the washing machine for mummy, or even to help clean up their stinking little pigsties of bedrooms. I know this as many of my friends are parents, and I have to listen to their complaints and competing stories of the absolute idleness of their offspring, especially young teenage girls, who may look so pretty with their hair gelled and make-up on, but if their boyfriends were ever lucky enough to gain access to their bedrooms would be horrified by the dirty knickers under the bed, old socks and tops scattered on the floor, and make-up spilled all over the dressing table – or maybe they wouldn’t be so horrified, but would be comforted at finding such a home from home.
And washing up I particularly loved, it’s that lovely warm feeling as you sink your hands into that hot sudsy water for the first time, very comforting – and not for me the hideous yellow Marigolds hanging like amputated hands on the wooden draining board, I went in commando style. I always gained a quiet satisfaction afterwards from seeing the little pile of cleaned and dried plates and cups and saucers on the dresser, and the knives and forks all filed correctly in their allotted places in the drawer, and even the thick old heavy saucepans were more a challenge than a chore.
Edward, of course, insisted on me having a very expensive Bosch dishwasher when we moved into this house, and it has a false front too, so that it matches all the other cupboards, and the fridge and the washing machine, all anonymously hidden behind sleek white and stainless steel, very modern, very Germanic, very bloody boring. I had wanted an old-fashioned ‘shaker’ style kitchen, but Edward’s modernism won out. He was always telling me off for washing up a couple of cups, “Stick them in the dishwasher” he would say “that’s what it’s there for.” But I found it more time-consuming stacking and emptying the wretched thing, and then the annoyance when you run out of plates and realize they are all dirty and in the dishwasher, or after having stacked it you find you have run out of tablets again, so have to un-stack and hand-wash them anyway, or it needs salt, or there is a lime-scale build-up on the glasses, or you have a leak behind the thing and have to get a man in to drag it out and replace the connectors. I never bother with it now, and am almost scared to open it in case it smells from lack of use; I have reverted to my favourite old washing-up bowl and bottle of fairy liquid, and the comfort of immersing my hands in the suds, I am afraid. I would happily have the thing removed but what on earth would I put in the gap, and you never know, I might one day have a dinner party again and then it might just come in handy – but I doubt it.