Saturday 6 March 2010

Spring cleaning 3

From Superwoman by Shirley Conran (1975)
shooting from the hip with a hefty side order of resentment,
this book opens with the line,

'What is a home? A home is a myth.
 A home is the Forth Bridge, one damn long, never ending cleaning job, 
which nobody notices unless you don't do it.'

and in case her meaning wasn't clear,

'No one's going to strangle you if the mantelpiece is dusty. 
Your man doesn't love you because you can tell the difference 
between whitest and whiter-than-white.

 Your children won't remember you with love in twenty years' time because 
your floors had such a fantastic shine...On the whole, 
nobody except you cares how the place looks.
If somebody does, then press him into service. 
Always, charmingly, press any critic into service:
 they either help or stop criticizing, 
or, ideally, both.

I had forgotten how angry she sounded.
Nevertheless, do not be deceived, 
she proceeds to offer 193 pages of advice 
on how to do it all anyway.
Plus ça change.

So, spring cleaning the Shirley Conran way:

'Spring cleaning is rarely necessary if you stick to a good weekly schedule. 
(That is  dealt with separately with a suggested daily routine 
and two chapters called 'How to be a Housemaid' and 'How to be a Laundrymaid.) 
But one day when you are feeling strong and rich enough 
you could finger through the yellow book and get a professional carpet cleaner 
to estimate for your carpets...If you still use open fires call the chimney sweep; 
send all your curtains to be cleaned... 
Look at your list of things to be mended, 
things to be bought and things to be overhauled.
I do this in the first week of January. 
It's anti-climax time and the weather is horrid, 
so you might as well do the nasty jobs and try not to do anything else 
for the rest of the year. Nobody seems to notice... 
Not everyone agrees with me but,
 temperature permitting, I believe that the best, private, 
spring-cleaning outfit is a bikini. 
Spring clean with a friend (who doesn't talk too much) to spur you on, 
cheer you up, patch you up or wipe you down and - ideally - 
complete the job for you when you get stuck or bored.'

In her section on planning a methodical campaign she says,

'Tell your nearest - who won't even have noticed that you are spring-cleaning - 
that you'll expect him to provide a night out, say next Monday, 
and you'll be having a bubble bath, and going to the hairdresser beforehand.

Tomorrow - because I'm on a roll,
spring cleaning from 1998.


  1. Do you think Shirley spring cleaning in her bikini is just ever so slightly attention seeking!
    I obviously need to spring clean as my weekly schedule is less than good - but not in swimwear!

  2. I'd like to think you are reading these encouraging books as a substitute for real cleaning, and not as a whip to drive yourself on to higher standards?

    If I had a bikini, I might consider wearing it when cleaning up this pigsty when my odd-job man (son) goes home next week. Maybe a sensible vest and big knickers will do just as well.....

  3. Love these spring cleaning posts. This one reminded me that I had a friend many years ago who used to clean up in a bikini (I think it involved flicking a duster and only in the summer months) but I vaguely remember that she fancied the postman at the time.

  4. Spring cleaning 4?!

    Dearest Lucille, if it were not for your weather I would suggest you try to get out just a little more.

  5. Dearest Jofindia, it's up there. Enjoy! I'm not done yet. And actually the sun is shining brilliantly today, illuminating all the cobwebs.