Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Hausfrau Avoidance

This week it's not so much the pram in the hallway causing me strife but the hoover in the hallway . . . or Hoover, or vacuum cleaner, or that thing that's supposed to suck up the bits and dust only mine hardly ever does because I'm too lazy to change the bag so I just leave it plugged in and go off to do something else and there it stays for three or four days until I can't remember what it's like not to have to step over it every time I leave the room. It becomes like a faithful dog. So I put it away in the really awkward cupboard (where faithful dogs go, obviously), and then I look at the rug and sigh at the trodden-in raisins and the odd grain of rice from last week's takeaway and briefly contemplate getting it out again.

But recently I've discovered two reasons to stop avoiding the housework: one good, one bad. And I've been at it quite a lot.

When the flat is tidy (in a rumpled kind of way) I'm like Mary-bleedin'-Poppins with the children. Earlier this week we had an especially good day - made-up songs, interesting wildlife spotted on a long walk (fortunately ladybirds and slugs count as interesting when you are three), biscuit-making (with pink icing) and pumpkin-seed-planting. It was textbook. A spoonful of sugar? Not 'arf. But as the week went by and the flat went from gently rumpled to definitely disheveled to A Right State, I started to act more like Cruella de Ville* (only without the cool hair, and wearing not a fur coat but carrot-puree-stained jeans). Even though I hate housework, I also hate living in a tip. It makes me itchy (not literally - we're not at vermin level yet).

Housework might be a displacement activity for the novel I'm supposed to be rewriting. (I always intended the novel to be the displacement activity for the housework!)

I've also noticed that I tackle housework alarmingly similar to the way I deal with rewrites. I enter a room (chapter), chuck a few things, move a few things, push a few things under the bed, have a satisfied glance around and tell myself I've done a grand job, and duck out shutting the door behind me. Only deep down I know there's a layer of dust on the skirting-board, and a mug of old tea on the mantelpiece, and the character's motivation is still a bit oblique and that metaphor a tad over-written.

I need more and better housework, but I also need more time for the rewrite; I can't have both. I've got to take the flat/novel to pieces, deep clean them and put them back together.

The answer?

Well, she's Polish and charges £8 per hour. Now I have no excuse . . . Only, guess what I did today in preparation for my new cleaner starting tomorrow? Reader, I cleaned.

I have turned into a dreadful caricature.

*Thanks to Ross for his photoshop skills!

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Ross said...

I thought this might make you feel better Em:


Keris said...

Oh my goodness! That's exactly like me. Not just the trodden in raisins and the stepping over the hoover, but the same approach to rewriting. Uncanny!

I feel so much better now :)