Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 29 September 2012

Shall I Let You into a Secret?

All right then...

Here it is...

This is one of my abiding mantras...

The housework will still be there when you get around to doing it.

This doesn’t work for everyone. This isn’t always true. For instance, the husband can’t always ignore the housework. When faced with the end of one job and the beginning of the next, the husband goes into a frenzy of tidying away, collecting rubbish, shelving books, storing weapons, (the replicas he uses for choreographing fight scenes; he does write an awful lot of fight scenes), and generally getting on with the housework. Since, mostly, he’s a novelist, he basically does a couple of jobs a year, so I figure that this is more-or-less reasonable. I guess he’s allowed.

Me? If I’ve got something better to do, a bit of dust isn’t going to bother me much.

Of course, now you’re thinking that you don’t know me at all. Now you’re thinking that I have no discipline whatsoever, and what’s more, if I ever invite you to supper you’re absolutely not coming. 

Fret not. It isn’t quite that bad.

Discipline is in the eye of the beholder.

Real discipline is taking a moment to do a little of everything as you go along. Discipline is throwing your clothes in the linen basket as you take them off, swirling a blast of hot water around the sink or bath as soon as you’ve finished your ablutions, rinsing your cup between beverages, shaking your duvet out every day and never allowing the stuff on your desk to pile up.

If you have a place for everything and everything remains more-or-less in its place, a flick of a duster and a quick bang around with the hoover is all the housework that ever really needs doing. If you shake your washing as it comes out of the machine and hang it out to dry properly, you don’t even need to get the ironing board out all that often, although there’s very little more satisfying than doing a pile of ironing, and don’t you just love the smell? Besides, it’s about the only time I ever get to watch crappy TV (reruns of the Antiques Roadshow, for preference).

There is always something more interesting to do than housework, and anyone who believes otherwise has got some sort of screw loose as far as I’m concerned. 

I totally admire those women who keep their homes immaculate... I honestly do... men, too, for that matter, but, why aren’t they doing something more creative/interesting/dangerous with their time? Because they lack the imagination, that’s why.

The dullest teacher in the World told me every day for a year that a tidy desk reflected a tidy mind. He was a grey little man, who bored and saddened kids who didn’t like him, and was paid peanuts for his not very considerable pains. I can’t believe he was ever satisfied with his lot, and I don’t believe for a moment that he was right.

I don’t know what happened to him, but I hope that he gave up teaching. I hope he handed his class over to someone with a little more joie de vivre.

Then I hope he learned to rumple his hair and let loose. I hope he lived a little. I hope he learned that order isn’t everything, that out of the chaos wonder can be formed. I do hope so. Everyone deserves a little wonder, and if all you have to do to get it is forget about the housework... Well that isn’t so damned difficult, is it?


  1. my problem is that there is always something more interesting to do with my time. I try to double team my chores (I live on my own). so when I'm cooking dinner, I'm also doing the dishes. after I've put on the laundry, I'll do some cleaning in the bathroom (which is the laundry).

    unfortunately there are some single hit chores that consequently suffer, such as putting the laundry away when it's dried. instead it can often pile up in my laundry baskets until I need them for wet laundry.

    still. between managing my hobbies, my psyc degree, and domestic duties ... I'm managing, rather than struggling ;)

  2. "Real discipline is taking a moment to do a little of everything as you go along."

    I really, really have to send you Sylvia over for a couple of days.

  3. I can't be disciplined about housework! I have a simple system. Invite family or friends over every two weeks. Tidy up/hoover/clean just before they come. Apart from that I cook and launder and the kids wash up. Dust? I only dust when I run out of things to do...last time was 1997. Or move the room around!