Dust in time

Today I did some housework. You did what?!!! Yes, housework. Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be gobsmacked by the assertion. As indeed I am myself.

Of course, when I say “housework”, I don’t mean all of it. Just some of it. To be more exact, the bathroom. When I say “bathroom”, I don’t mean all of it. Just some of it. But even that is amazing enough. The results were quite impressive. Then again, I am easily impressed, especially by my own products. But no, really, it did make a difference. And I honestly intend to do the rest of it soon.

What on earth induced me to engage in this unaccustomed enterprise? Perhaps it was one of those mad fits that sometimes take possession of me or the feeling of spring in the air. Not that this can be described as Spring Cleaning. Spring comes around each year, after all. No, it was more your Decade Cleaning or First Time in History Cleaning.

I am awaiting Tigger’s reaction with interest. Tigger tends to be low-key about such things. “Have you done something to the worktop?” she casually asked the other day, after I had spent weeks scrubbing it and getting rid of stains, tackling a small patch each day after doing the washing-up. “Er, yes,” I stammered. “Looks good,” said Tigger.

Not that I expect the same level of enthusiasm where the bathroom is concerned. For one thing, I threw a lot of stuff away. I chose the candidates on the basis that they were 1. empty, 2. past their use-by date or 3. useless. The problem here is that one person’s useless article might be someone else’s priceless keepsake. Uh-oh, I’m beginning to have regrets already…

On a more general or philosophical level I find myself wondering about this cleaning and tidying lark. Is it really necessary or is it, as I suspect, merely a bourgeois conceit, a relic of the days when people had servants to carry the coals and dust the knick-knacks?

I am brought to this meditation by the sad but undeniable fact that housework, once done, does not stay done. If you like a clean and tidy home then, barely have you achieved this goal than it is necessary to do it all over again. It’s all so self-defeating.

It seems to me that the reason why we dust, hoover and polish our homes is because we feel guilty if we don’t. That suggests to me that cleaning is a conditioned reflex, something dinned into us from early childhood as a duty and responsibility, a moral burden placed upon the shoulders of all good citizens, rather than something we do for the pleasure of the action or its results: “Clean thy mantelpiece lest thy mother-in-law write her initials in the dust thereon.”

In that case, all democrats and right-thinking people should surely regard it as optional, something you do or don’t do, as the mood strikes you. And I must say, the mood doesn’t often strike either of us. Except today, apparently.

Actually, I quite like the bathroom as it now is though it will not remain in that condition for long, will it?

Note added later

Tigger liked the (partially) cleaned and tidied bathroom. Luckily, eh?


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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8 Responses to Dust in time

  1. Chris says:

    Looking for an excuse to get out of dusting? Here are two good reasons:

    1. Dust is home to thousands of tiny little dust mites. Dusting is therefore tantamount to habitat destruction. You wouldn’t go and chop down the rainforest, would you? So leave the dust alone too.

    2. Most dust is composed of millions of microscopic particles of shed human skin. How yucky is that!

  2. SilverTiger says:

    1. I always reckon wildlife is there for a purpose and should be interfered with as little as possible.

    2. As it’s mostly our skin, that’s fine by me.

    Just as long as it doesn’t get into the tea.

  3. emalyse says:

    Dusting and tidiness is another one of those socialised and learned habits of a social norm. It all often gets me down but in my soul I’m with the “A tidy house is a sign of wasted life” type sentiment. I think it was Quentin Crisp who once said about his own lack of dusting prowess that “after 7 years the dust gets no worse”.

  4. SilverTiger says:

    From direct observation, I would say that Crisp was right.

    I think it’s other people’s expectations that cause all our guilt and associated problems!

  5. Oscarandre says:

    “If you like a clean and tidy home then, barely have you achieved this goal than it is necessary to do it all over again. It’s all so self-defeating.” I have the same problem with gardens – why can’t they just stay weeded? And why are weeds weeds anyway? Whose decision was that? All sounds a bit like the class system to me.

  6. baralbion says:

    We can all sympathise from time to time with Mole’s “Bother spring-cleaning!” But I don’t go with this idea that dirt and muddle are sure signs of genius. On the contrary, they inhibit it. Cleaning is Good. It makes us realise how tedious life is for people who have to do such things all the time for a living. It takes our minds off other things. It shows us we can take satisfaction in small things. Is it not simply a middle-class intellectual affectation to be averse to it? What, for goodness’ sake, is actually wrong with being clean and tidy?

  7. SilverTiger says:

    Gardening is number 3 on the list of things I don’t do (sharing joint first position with housework and decorating), so I agree.

    As for weeds, well, yes, all plants were equal until people came along and called some “garden plants” and others “weeds”. It’s the same sort of system that divides some animals into a separate class called “pests”.

    If I had a garden I would turn it into a wild life sanctuary. To be more precise, I would leave it to nature to do that, as it makes a better job of it than I could.

  8. SilverTiger says:

    The only sure sign of genius is genius itself.

    There is affectation and there is sheer laziness. Or, as I prefer to call it, conservation of energy for the Really Important Things In Life.

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