On my fridge is a laundry list of household and cleaning chores divided into weekly, fortnightly and monthly jobs for the perfectly run household. It’s totally aspirational rather than a reality, but nonetheless the list never fails to impress guests. In the reality of my domestic sluttery, it’s my inability to remember the colour of the kitchen floor, the new breed of mould growing in the bathroom or the tides of dust kitties mixed with my hair nestling in corners (it seriously gets EVERYWHERE), that prompts me to have a cleaning blitz. In an attempt to be democratic but actually resulting in the laissez-faire result of nobody doing anything, the laundry list has no names against it. But if I had my way the cleaner’s name would be against nearly everything. Let’s call her “Maria”, my imaginary Maid, Ironing & Cleaning Lady. Maria could easily keep my home clean and tidy whilst my partner and I work 80+ hours a week between us to pay the mortgage for it. 100 years ago I wouldn’t have had to spend my Sunday dusting, hovering and bleaching. I would have had staff for this kind of thing, GODDAMMIT!
Clearly I picture myself as flouncing around ‘upstairs’ at Gosford Park as opposed to scurrying around ‘downstairs’. The reality of my social class, sadly, probably means I’d have been more likely found in the scullery rather than the ballroom, or the larder rather than the library, but NEVERMIND. If I want to be BLOODY Lady Mary of Downton, or indeed a lady downin’ a Bloody Mary (even better) then so I shall!
The industrial revolution in the home has meant that technology has made domestic drudgery, well.. a lot less drudgey. And of course it freed up women’s time in the post war era as full time housekeepers to go out to work and earn for the household. Now we have dishwashers, washing machines, blenders and supermarkets and no longer need flat irons, mangles and mincers. But even with a few modern machines and gismos there is still no magic ‘deep clean’ button that turns my house into an Ideal Home magazine spread. When I work 40+ hours a week where am I supposed to find the time for this other job as housekeeper, albeit a flimsy ‘modern’ one? This job has no training, no induction and certainly no bonus for good performance. Where the hell is Maria? Why can I not afford her?! After working all week I want to enjoy my free time and fill it with cocktails and prosecco, hobbies, me-time, quality time with my partner, entertainment, socialising and fun, and generally enjoying the home I work -to earn- to pay for.
It strikes me that what we all tend to do, is work more to earn more to spend more and buy more stuff which means we have to work even more to earn more to afford the stuff, which means we don’t have time to use the stuff because we’re working more and have way more stuff getting dusty and even less time to clean the stuff let alone use the stuff and then less room to store the stuff, which means we need to work more to earn more to afford a bigger house to keep more stuff in where we can put it all away and stop it getting dusty, and then we have to work more to earn more to pay for our bigger house which needs SOOOOO MUCH MORE cleaning….
My husband doesn’t call me ‘princess fallen on hard times’ for nothin’.