I’ve been an all natural fibres sort of a girl for as long as I’ve had a choice, and now for the first time since school I’m in a polyester uniform (ah the joys of a working life). I’m not sure if they still even exist but the thing I particularly remember was gym knickers. Nasty, nasty things that I burnt the moment I could. Now my bête noir is my work skirt – it should be a perfectly sensible length, and for about five minutes is, but the combination of tights and nylon means it tends to head north fairly quickly. Ironing seems to make it angry – any attempts at control become truly futile, so I’m on the hunt for household tips and hints.
The hunt encouraged me to dig out my copy of Rachel Simhon’s ‘the Housewife’s Handbook’. It was a Christmas present from my sister a couple of years ago and came with a fair amount of irony attached - housework not being entirely my forte. My hoover caught fire sometime in September and I haven’t yet replaced it. I’m pleading poverty on this one, but will admit I’m not sorry to have an excuse to ignore the dust slowly piling up on the floor. I can’t yet see my footprints in it so as far as I’m concerned all is well, though eventually I suppose I’ll have to do something about it.
Simhon’s book came out in time for festive sales in 2007 part of a wave of domestic goddessary which has continued to gather momentum (and mass of printed material) ever since. I thought last year’s crop of Christmas books was something to behold but I see yet more have appeared in time for this year. When these books are good they’re great, and I’m putting ‘The Housewife’s Handbook’ in the great category, but it’s easy to get to much of a good thing and I do wonder who’s buying a lot of these books, or who they’re being bought for. I was pleased with my Christmas present, but would be taking it a bit personally if I got a housework book every year.
Ms Simhon suggests fabric softner might help with my static problems and I’ll give it a go, although I think my polyester is probably proof against such a simple solution I’m definitely crediting it with more resources anyway. Leafing through the book though I have found plenty of other useful tips and hints I’ll probably forget or never use but all of which make me think I should read the book properly.
The introduction deals with the thorny feminist issue of a housewife’s social position and status, very reasonably asking why we despise the role so much. Homes to be welcoming do demand a certain amount of care and for most of us there’s nobody else to do it, equally homes are expensive, expensive to buy and furnish so it only makes sense to take care of them. I tell myself this but I’m still a bit slovenly about housework, although there’s always the chance I’ll grow up and get on with it someday.