Archive for the ‘household’ Tag

Domestic Chores and Days Off

I’m a writer with a day job married to a musician with a day job.  Free time for either of us is pretty rare.

However, because the organisation I work for has a flexi time system, it does mean that if I build up enough hours I can occasionally take a day off work without having to use annual leave.  Such days are useful for doctor and dentist appointments, and such, but they are also useful for dealing with domestic chores that require being at home on a weekday.  So I generally try and schedule as many such tasks as possible for these days off.

Friday this week was such a day, and although it was a completely unproductive writing day, on the domestic chores front we got quite a lot accomplished.  First of all, we got the plumber round to replace the cracked plastic pipes on the side of the house that drain the water from the bath and the sink in the upstairs bathroom.  Well, we thought the pipes were cracked.  What we did not realise until the old pipes had been removed and the plumber showed them to us is that both of them had completely disintegrated on one side.  Every time we’ve been running the water in the bathroom it must have been cascading down the side of the house.  Just as well we got that fixed, then.

While we had the plumber we also had him plumb the American fridge freezer we bought when we moved into the house in September into the water supply.  So our fridge now dispenses ice cubes and cold water.  I’ve got disproportionately excited about this.  All weekend I’ve been drinking lots of glasses of water, just to have an excuse to fill up a glass with ice and water from the fridge.

I also took the kittens to the vet to get neutered, since they have now reached five months and we cannot start letting our female felines outside until we can be assured they can’t get pregnant.

Alia in post-operative recovery

Alia in post-operative recovery

I didn’t think this would be too much of an ordeal.  Our last pair of cats were both female, and we had to get them done.  However, these new kittens have very different personalities than our old cats.  For starters, they are a lot more intelligent.  With our former cats (who admittedly inherited pedigree genes) all we had to do to get them to vet was get the cat box and leave it on the floor with the door open.  The cats would think “ooh! Box!” and would promptly go in because they loved boxes. Then I’d shut the door on them, as they belatedly realised they’d been foiled again.

Not so with these cats. They have already learned to associate the box with unpleasantness and as soon as they saw it they were running to hide.  I managed to grab one and shove her in the box, chased the second one for a while, but after catching her I opened the door to shove her in and the first one promptly escaped. Now I know the origin of that phrase “herding kittens”, used to describe the difficulty of getting a group of people in the same place at the same time.

Eventually I did manage to get both cats in the box but not without injury.  They came home after their spaying op safe and well.  Unfortunately we have to go through the same fiasco on Monday, as I have to take them back to the vet for a post-op check.  And I don’t have the luxury of a day off on Monday – it’s back to work for me.  Which means after leaving work early to dash home in time, I’m probably going to be chasing the kittens around the house in my work clothes.  And I will have a limited amount of time to get them into the box.

I’m already dreading this task.  At the very least, I think I shall dig out the gardening gloves before attempting it.  Any suggestions from cat owners to get reluctant felines into the cat carrier are welcome…

Advertisements

Reluctant Gardener

I have friends who are seriously into their gardening. They seem to derive pleasure from pruning and weeding.

I confess I will never understand this. I HATE gardening. I don’t like getting dirty; I don’t like expending unnecessary energy; unless it’s more than 21c out I get cold when I spend any time outside; and I am allergic to every form of foliage. Gardening to me is a chore, and it wastes time I would rather spend doing other things – playing computer games, for instance, where I can stay in the warm and avoid all the nasty dirt. Or writing. And I don’t mix with plants. People sometimes buy me indoor ones, and I stick them on a windowsill and then they die because I forget all about having to water them occasionally.

However, last year we bought a four-bedroom house.  Houses that size in the UK are designed to be family homes, and therefore they generally all have gardens. So that was the price we paid for our large house. It came with a garden. And gardens need maintenance.

It’s clear that none has been done for a while – and this goes beyond us not touching it since we moved in ten months ago. With the dawning of some warmer weather, suddenly things began to grow in the garden. And the speed with which they shot up made us suspect that most of them were weeds.

The first priority has been to sort out storage space. The garden came with three sheds, but they were all in a poor state. Since we have no garage at this house, and we did at the last, we need somewhere to store our stuff. And before you say it, yes I know two people in a four-bedroom house with an attic should have plenty of space indoors to store their stuff, but for us this is not the case. This weekend we have been dismantling two of the sheds, and getting the concrete bases re-done so that the new sheds we have ordered will have a level base to stand on when they arrive. The third shed we decided to leave in place, since it seemed to be more or less in one piece, but it was leaning at an angle, so we got it levelled out (which apparently involved a gardening equivalent of propping beer mats under the leg of a wobbly table). In order to get this done, it became necessary to empty it.

Bear in mind we haven’t ventured too far into this shed since we moved in. As well as it being home to a variety of spiders and creepy-crawlies, it was also full of stuff left there by the previous owners – who clearly were enthusiastic gardeners. A few things in this shed we are still puzzling over. There is an unopened flat pack from Ikea called Truro. Looks to be some kind of shelving unit, that it seems someone bought and then forgot all about. There’s a plastic bag full of brown glass bottles. Why on earth would someone stockpile bottles? The only explanation I can come up with is that at some point the previous owners dabbled in home-made hooch of some sort.

Our ultimate aim, since we have a garden, is to turn it into a space that it might be pleasant to sit in on the rare occasions the sun deigns to shine over the UK. But getting there is hard and dirty work, and involves getting a bit too up close and personal with creepy-crawlies.

On the plus side, we have discovered there are strawberry plants growing in our garden, which seem to be thriving well despite my brown thumb – but since they are outdoors they get rained on frequently, and I guess that’s good for strawberry plants. I picked the first ripe red fruits off them this weekend, and I have to say that they are delicious – fresh and juicy. I don’t mind plants that produce yummy berries in my garden. As long as they produce fruit on their own, without my having to do anything.

ABC Quiz

What do you do when you don’t know what to blog about?  Take the ABC quiz.  Thanks to Wonky Monkey, who posted this.

Age: 43.  I don’t particularly feel old, until I realise how many people I know who are young enough to be my offspring…

Bed Size: King size. Though I have discovered that a king size bed is different in the UK and the US.  Like a lot of things, in the States a King size is bigger.

Chore You Hate:  All of them. That’s why I have a cleaner.  I’m a big believer in paying someone else to do the things you hate to do.

Dogs?  Don’t really like dogs.  They are noisy and smelly and require walks every day.  I’m much more a cat person – they are lower maintenance.

Essential Start Your Day Item:  I want to say a cup of tea.  But to be more pragmatic, it’s my asthma inhaler, since I don’t get very far into the day if I’m wheezing like Darth Vader.

Favourite Colour:  Red.  It’s always been red.  I guess I like to be noticed.

Gold or Silver?   Silver.  Especially necklaces.  I am acquiring quite a collection of silver necklaces.

Height:  5 foot 6 inches.  More or less.

Instruments You Play:   Bass guitar, but I’m still a beginner.  I used to play the clarinet, in school, but that’s going back a bit.

Job:  Whenever anyone asks me what I do, I have to qualify, “do you mean what I do or what I do for a living, because the answer will be different”.  My vocation and my career is writing.  But I don’t make any money at it, hence the need for a day job.  So I work as an Executive Assistant for a medical college in London.  Because I have a mortgage to pay I do my best to juggle the paying job with the non-paying one.  It’s not always easy.

Kids:  None and no desire to have any.

Live:  4 bedroom house in a suburb of South London.  We moved in last year and I love the house.  Still look forward to returning to it every evening, and have that moment of basking in happiness when I walk through the front door, in the knowledge that this is my home.

Mum’s Name:  Rosemary.  But only my grandmother ever called her that.  To everyone else, she’s always been Rosie.

Nicknames:  None.  At least none that I know of.  It’s possible that there are some that people call me behind my back, but I’ve no desire to know what they are.

Overnight Hospital Stays?  I had my tonsils out, age 6.  Because my parents didn’t want me to be afraid, they’d prepped me by telling me that hospital was a fun place to be.  Apart from the rather sore throat afterwards, I had quite a good time.   More recently I’ve had to go in for haemorrhoid removal.  That was really not fun – in fact, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Pet Peeve:  Smokers.  Especially those that light up when they are walking down the street in front of me, and I get a face full of their smoke.  My asthmatic lungs really do not appreciate this.

Quote from a Movie:  Lando Calrissian from The Empire Strikes Back – “I’m responsible these days.  It’s the price you pay for being successful.”  How true that is.

Right or Left Handed?  Left handed.  Everyone in my immediate family is right handed and they never really got how awkward being left handed in a right handed world can be.  I used to get told off for putting the knives and forks the wrong way round when I set the table as a kid.

Siblings:  Two sisters, both younger.  My overdeveloped sense of responsibility comes from being the eldest child.

Time You Wake Up?  When the alarm goes off.  On an ordinary working day, this is 6:00 am.  If I want to do some writing first, it’s 5:30 am. On weekends, when I don’t have to set the alarm, I sleep for as long as possible.  Generally till about 10:00 am.  I need 8 hours of sleep a night and I never get it.  I’m permanently in a state of sleep deprivation.

Underwear:  Cotton bikini briefs.  Generally in five-packs from Marks & Spencer.  Comfort first.

Vegetable You Dislike:  All of them.  Vegetables are like exercise – not pleasant but you have to have them because they’re good for you.  I will tolerate peas, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, mange tout and sweet corn.  Most of the rest I won’t eat.

What Makes You Run Late:  My husband.  I’m always ready half an hour before we need to leave.  He doesn’t like to be the first person to arrive, so we’re always fashionably late to everything.

X-Rays You’ve Had Done:  Ankle, when I fell on it whilst paintballing.  Turned out to be sprained, not broken, however.  Skull, when I fell at the tube station and cracked my head.  I got concussion, but no fracture.  Numerous chest x-rays when my persistent and alarming cough worries the doctor.  They revealed nothing untoward in my lungs apart from the fact I have asthma.  In spite of being accident prone, I’ve never broken a bone.  So far.

Yummy Food You Make:  I’m not a cook, but I do occasionally bake, and I can make fabulous peanut butter cookies.

Zoo Animal:   Probably the giraffe.  I find it fascinating that such an awkward-looking animal evolved naturally.  They can’t lie down for fear of breaking their long necks.  And yet I’ve seen them in their natural habitat, traversing across the Serengetti, where they manage to look incredibly majestic.

And there we have it – 26 fascinating (or not) facts revealed in the ABC quiz.  What would your answers be?

A Post About Responsibility and Choices

As a precursor to this blog, I am issuing a warning that it might get political.

I don’t read newspapers anymore. They all have a political bias and I just get cross. I get most of my news from the BBC news channel (or its website) these days, which seems to have at least some semblance of objectivity. Newspapers all seem too keen to point the finger of blame at whose fault it is the world’s in a global recession. Corrupt politicians. Unscrupulous wealthy people. Or it’s all the fault of single mothers and people on benefits – depending on which paper it is.

When I was 18 I was a rampant socialist – bordering on communist, in fact. I thought it was grossly unfair that some people had money and some people did not. Then I finished high school in Canada and moved back to England. I had a plan to go to university here. I discovered that I was not entitled to any kind of financial assistance to aid with fees, as I had been out of the country for too long. Nor could I claim unemployment benefit, I discovered when I went to do so. Instead, I went out to find a job. Having no particular skills or experience, I went after any sort of job that was available. I ended up working in a book shop for a few years.

When I was 21 I qualified as a ‘mature student’ and could do a university degree part time in evening classes. So this is what I did. It took me six years, instead of the usual three. By that point I had a local office job, for a software distribution company, so after working all day I ended up taking a train and hauling all the way over to North London to attend my lectures. I got home late, and often nodded off during them. I spent most of my weekends doing course work – doing the reading, or working on essays. Several TV shows I’d previously been addicted to I stopped watching when I realised I had six weeks’ worth of episodes recorded and never had time to catch up. And at the beginning of each term I paid the fees out of my own hard-earned cash. When I finally got my degree – a 2:1 in English Literature – I felt like I’d earned it.

I was also 21 when Hubby and I, having decided we were in this relationship for the duration (though we weren’t married at that point), bought our first place together. It was 1991, and property prices in London were on a downward spiral. We bought a tiny one-bedroom flat on a brand new estate. It was all we could afford at the time. Developers were keen to sell, given the market crash. By the time we moved into the place, it was worth about half what it had been when they had started to build.

Five years later, we moved to a two-bedroom split level maisonette. We recruited friends and family and a mini van to move all our stuff. It took seven trips to move everything out, and we wondered how we managed to fit so much stuff into such a tiny place. We also ended up being in negative equity, since the flat was worth less when we sold it than it was when we bought it.

The negative equity was gone by the time we sold the maisonette in 2003, because by that point property prices had skyrocketed, and they’ve never really fallen in the same way since. Our most recent move last year took us to a four-bedroom house. I don’t apologise for that. It’s taken us 20 years to get to a house that size. We have more stuff, and more income, and can now afford a bigger mortgage. And we could also afford a removal company, to take away the stress of having to pack up and move everything ourselves.

I have been part of the British workforce for 25 years now. In all that time, I have paid my taxes and claimed maybe two months’ worth of unemployment benefit. I have never walked out of one job without having another one lined up, no matter how much I hated it (and believe me, I’ve had some jobs I really hated) and in spite of being made redundant several times, I soon discovered that as long as you can type and have some organisation skills and office experience, there are always temp jobs available while you look for permanent employment – just as long as you don’t mind where you work, or for whom.

I don’t believe that the majority of the rich are out to screw over the poor, like I don’t believe that the majority of the poor are benefit cheats. There are, of course, always bad apples in every barrel, and these are the ones the media focuses on. But it’s dangerous to make sweeping generalisations. Human nature makes people criticise those they envy, and cry, ‘not fair’ because someone else has something they don’t.

But you know what? Life isn’t fair. That’s a lesson that should be learned by everyone early in life. My politics have shifted in the 25 years I’ve been part of the working world. Everything I have in my life – including the house, the holidays and the English degree – I’ve worked for without assistance or subsidies from anywhere (well OK, apart from the mortgage, but to qualify for one of those these days you have to have a good track record of paying it back, and it gets paid every month).

We all make choices in life. And we have to live with the consequences of those decisions. I chose not to have children. Maybe I’ll be alone when I get old if Hubby goes first and I have no other relatives, but that’s the choice I’ve decided to make. I have chosen not to take the plunge and give up the day job to write full time. If I were to do that, maybe I’d have more time to write, get more done and hence make more money from the writing, but I’m not really a risk taker, and I’m not willing to take that chance. So my choice, instead, is to continue to juggle the day job with the writing, even if it means having to keep getting up at 5:30 am to find time to write.

Sometimes we are dealt a bad hand in life, through no fault of our own. These are difficult times we live in, and a lot of very well qualified people have found themselves unemployed because their companies have gone bust or have had to downsize. Some of these people have mortgages to pay and children to provide for, and life is hard. And they might think that’s unfair. I thought it was unfair all the times when I got laid off. Sometimes it was a struggle for us to pay the mortgage on one salary. But we got by. We had to cut back for a while, on everything. And we got through it.

Life is unfair. We can’t always get what we want.

Human beings have a tendency to blame their problems on someone else. Blame the rich, for exploiting the poor. Blame the poor, for cheating the benefits system. Blame the immigrants, for coming over here and taking all our jobs (and incidentally I have heard this line from locals in every single country I’ve visited). Blame the corrupt politicians for taking cash away from services to line their own pockets. I’m not saying there aren’t unscrupulous rich, or benefit cheats, or corrupt politicians, because obviously there are. But they don’t all fall in this category, and we shouldn’t be so quick to allocate blame to a particular group of people.

People I knew who were in this world a few years ago are no longer with us. Life may not be quite the way you want it to be, but every birthday you pass still breathing, is an achievement. No matter how many excuses you make, you still have control of every decision you make in your life. If you want things to change, you have to make the first move. But change is difficult – and sometimes it seems insurmountable. So it’s easier to keep on the well trodden path and come up with excuses why you can’t get off it.

I am not pulling these meaningless phrases out of the air. I am the first person to resist change. When my parents divorced I was six years old, and not only did that change shake my life up, I spent the next 25 years blaming them for everything that went wrong in my life. But I did in the end learn to forgive them and move on. Perhaps I should have been able to let go of this earlier than I did, but I was slow to learn the lesson that the experience presented to me. I’m also still learning the lesson that change is generally a good thing, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time.

I am now getting off the soap box. I’ve had my say. You don’t have to agree with me, and that’s OK.

Political broadcast now over. Normal service will be resumed with the next post.

A Room of One’s Own

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Since we moved house, I have done no writing.  Somehow I seemed unable to to get back into a normal routine until all the boxes were unpacked and everything had a place.  And there were a lot of boxes to unpack. The disruption of this, coupled with no internet access, is also why I’ve not been blogging.

Hubby and I have been together 22 years and we’ve moved four times during our life together. Each time has been into a bigger place than the last, and each time there was more stuff to move.  We’re both terrible hoarders.  I’ve been unearthing some fascinating artifacts whilst unpacking this time around.  Every story I wrote in high school, for instance.  All my school notebooks.  Every letter that everyone ever wrote to me from the point I moved from Canada back to England in 1988.

So now there are two of us in a four-bedroom family house.  You’d think that would be enough space for two people, but we’re still working on finding a place for things.  Much of the space in our house is taken up by books. We are both bibliophiles, and although we’ve now both converted to e-readers, that doesn’t mean we want to get rid of all the physical books we have acquired over the years.  In the last house, the books were spread throughout every room.  When we moved, we got a better idea of just how many books we’ve got.  Taken in total, there must be close to a thousand in all.

The two of us have always dreamed of a private library, and with the layout of the new house we began to think that we might finally realise that dream. The house has an extension at the back – a lovely sunny room the previous owners called ‘the sun room’ that we thought would make a perfect library. However, when we actually got in the place and started unpacking all the boxes, we began to realise that we actually had too many books to fit them all in one room.

For once, though, we moved into a house that already had bookshelves built in – the first time we’ve bought a house bought by fellow bibliophiles, it seems, as usually the first thing we have to do is put up shelves in order to put the books away. The dining room in this lovely old house was built with a fireplace, and although the actual fire has been removed, the alcove on either side of the chimney breast has been filled floor to ceiling with sturdy shelves. Just right for putting books on.

Of course, we had far more books than these shelves would fit, and so we have bought more book cases and have managed to create our library – see attached image. I have to admit I am very fond of this room. It’s a wonderful room to sit and read in, and it’s one of my favourite spaces in the new house.

The plan is to keep this room free of TVs, computer and stereo equipment, and keep it as a quiet space – a proper ‘room of one’s own’, where we can retreat for solitude and quiet reflection.

With this room being at the back of the house, as part of a single storey stone extension, we are already getting an inkling that it will be a tad chilly in winter – the season we are, of course, moving into. However, this is such a wonderful space that I don’t think the cold will put even me off from spending time in here. I might just have to get into the habit of wearing thicker sweaters around the house. And of course, when one sits and reads, a nice hot cup of tea doesn’t go amiss either.

I’m Back

We finally have telecoms service, nearly a month after moving house. Up until now we’ve had to do without a landline, or internet service, and no TV apart from freeview channels (which are really not worth watching).

So what have I been doing this past month, apart from sticking pins into wax effigies of Virgin Media representatives?  I moved house.  One of my cats died.  I had to go into hospital for minor surgery.  I interviewed Kathy Reichs (yes, really!).

All in all, it’s been quite an eventful month.  Now I am back online, I shall be blogging about some of these things very soon.

Apologies for the neglect of the blog these past few weeks.  Thank you for bearing with me during technical difficulties.  Normal service will be resumed forthwith.  Watch this space!

Moving

We’ve just moved house and I’m currently up to my ears in boxes.  You never know how much stuff you’ve got until you try to move it all.  The new place is a 100-year-old four-bedroom semi detached house, and you’d think that would be plenty of space for just two people.  At the moment, though, we are crawling over boxes and it is a bit hard to see the bigger picture.

It’s ours at last!

The process has been remarkably quick. The day we moved in – Tuesday the 18th – was three months to the day of accepting an offer on our old place. We have been busy since then unpacking boxes, and now my knees and legs are killing me from constant bending and lifting.   And yet there is still much to do, and nothing is actually where it should be.

The worst thing is we have found out that our TV, internet and phone provider can’t connect us for another week and a half. So not only am I missing the new season of TRUE BLOOD – annoying in itself – but blog posts are going to be few and far between.

So, apologies for the lack of posts. Normal service will be resumed as soon as we’re back online.  Hopefully by then we will have managed to unpack most of the boxes.

Avoidance Ironing

I am not, by any means, a domestic goddess. All the nesting instincts that women are supposed to inherently possess have completely passed me by. I have no maternal instinct whatsoever, I don’t cook anything unless it has instructions on the packet or jar, I pay a cleaner to my dusting, polishing, sweeping and vacuuming, and I don’t do tidying up. My husband and I argue about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.

We have an arrangement with the ironing – he irons his clothes, I iron mine. He knows better than to ask me to iron a shirt for him. I really hate ironing so I try to avoid it if I can, buying synthetic wrinkle-free fabrics whenever possible, but in the summer months cotton work tops are unavoidable. My clothes tend to languish in my ironing basket for months, as I only iron stuff when I need it.

Today, however, I have rummaged around in the bottom of the ironing basket, and I’ve ironed everything of mine that was in there. Even the holiday clothes that I won’t be needing again until we next go someplace with a tropical climate.

So what’s brought on this uncharacteristic spurt of domesticity? Today is the first day I’ve had at home for months, and I decided to myself I would spend it writing. But I’m at one of those awkward points in the WIP that makes writing so undesirable, even domestic chores are appealing in comparison.

I am working on Draft 3 of the urban fantasy novel. Well, technically it’s Draft 2.5, as I’d only got halfway through Draft 2 before I scrapped it and started over, naming the rewrite Draft 3.

Therein lies the problem, really. I’m trying to put together a manuscript that’s pretty much in pieces, a jigsaw puzzle with a few key pieces missing. I arrived at my WIP to find my MC in a particularly hazardous position. She has to disrupt a demonic ritual. She has no idea how she’s going to do this. Neither do I. And in fact, in the first draft I’ve left a note to myself saying, “ritual must be disrupted. Figure this out later”. And then the next scene is my MC escaping from the scene, pursued by the irate ritualists.

Only, I’ve come back to this section and still don’t know what’s going to happen in this chapter. I think part of the problem lies in the fact I have a similar scene later on in the book, where she disrupts another ritual, and thus I’m in danger of repeating myself. I think I’m going to have to rethink this particular plot line before I can carry on with.

The thought is currently filling me with dread. I think I hear the zombies of Resident Evil stirring, and feel the need to go give them a good kicking, rather than sit here bashing my head against the keyboard.

Still, at least all my clothes are ironed. So I suppose something useful has come out of today’s writing session.

Allergic to Nature

I have mentioned my dislike for all domestic chores. This includes gardening. I know plenty of people who find gardening therapeutic and pleasurable. I do not fall into this category.

For starters, I seem to be allergic to all plant life. Being around flowers or anything with spores just makes my nose run all the more. The other thing I dislike about gardening is, like other domestic chores, I find it dull and a waste of energy, and I would much rather spend my time doing something more interesting like writing or reading. Hubby is also averse to gardening, but I think his dislike stems from being made to mow his parents’ expansive lawn when he was a boy.

When we bought our house, we were careful to select one that didn’t have acres of greenery to look after. We have a small back yard that is paved over. Sadly, the weeds still seem to grow between the cracks of the flagstones. Short of someone inventing a substance to kill all plant life permanently, and thus ensuring no weeds will ever grow again (has someone invented such a substance? I suspect that it would also kill every living thing within a 5-mile radius, and hence impractical to market), we are obliged to occasionally go out into our yard with the garden shears and start hacking at anything green.

So this is what I had to spend my bank holiday afternoon doing, sniffling all the while because of my allergies. And trying to avoid touching any of the plants with my bare skin, because I get dermatitis on my hands that seems to be aggravated by plant life. I have no problem with allergies, on the whole, with chemical or synthetic substances. Just the natural ones. Sometimes I wonder if I’m some sort of techno-human, evolved to live in harmony with the industrial world rather than the natural one.

Still, today it seemed we won the battle with the weeds. And as summer is coming to an end, hopefully it will be another few months before we have to bring the artillery out again. So I can reward myself by holing myself up in my house, in front of my computer, out of reach of the nasty foliage. Hopefully it can’t get me in here.

Un-domestic Goddess

Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I intensely dislike anything remotely resembling domestic chores. My mother tried very hard to teach me how to be house proud, but there just always seemed to be something more interesting to do – starting from when I was about five years old, and I was sent to my room to tidy up my toys and would always get distracted by a book instead.

I think actually I take after my dad, who also hates housework, but being a man he can get away with it. If a man hates housework, that’s OK – he’ll have a wife or a mother who will do it for him. If a woman hates housework, she’s a slob.

OK, so I’m a slob. I cheerfully admit it. But I have no problem with paying other people to do the jobs I hate to do, so I have a cleaner instead. She comes once a week and dusts, vacuums, cleans the bathroom, mops the floors, tidies away the stuff we’ve left on the floor, scrubs the kitchen counters and loads and turns on the dishwasher. She’ll also unload it, if we’ve left the clean stuff in there, which often we do because we argue about whose turn it is to unload it.

She doesn’t do the laundry, however. I do have to deign to stuff my laundry in the washing machine and pull it out again. In our house we have a basket for laundry and a separate basket for ironing. They are both always overflowing. But we don’t have enough closet space to have everything washed and ironed all the time, so that’s fine.

Our ironing arrangement is simple: I iron my clothes, and my husband irons his. Well, he knows better than to let me loose on his work shirts, even if I was inclined to do someone else’s ironing (which I am not). My mother did try to teach me how to iron. Really, she did. I chose not to pay attention. I probably had my nose buried in some book or other at the time.

But I really hate ironing. If I could find someone else to do that for me, I’d be set.