Housework and other nightmares

Peter Warland talks about ways to avoid those unpleasant duties

Peter Warland

“The best way to avoid housework is not to be available when someone else thinks it is necessary.” -Anonymous

My friend Neddy tells me that he has a woman come into his house on a regular basis in order to do ‘housework’. Neddy is a widower as I am and he probably feels that it is beneath his dignity as a man to struggle with such menial chores.

I, on the other hand, having no dignity, have learned to neglect such nonsense like housework because I believe it to be unnecessary. However, I do make a point of inviting a few friends around to my place occasionally and then whip around with the vacuum and tidy up just those places where guests might venture or are actually permitted to go.

As some of my friends are getting frail, I actually make an effort to clean the upstairs bathroom, but this, according to the book that I read on housework, written by the famous Dave Barry, is over-reaching myself; I could come to serious harm. Almost all housework is hard and dangerous especially in such noisome places as bathrooms and ovens; this is where plague germs gather, so I move cautiously and don’t over-do it.

I probably picked up this ruse from my parents in days of yore. They always kept ‘the front room’ spotless, free from children, pets and even themselves until polite company came visiting. I was hardly ever allowed in, even at Christmas. It was sort of hallowed ground.

I must have taken this trick with me into the RAF. There, as a corporal, I shared with Cyril, another lowly N.C.O., a small room at the end of a hut full of ‘erks’, recent enlistees. Unfortunately, when the Flight Sergeant made his inspection of the ‘erks’ quarters, we too were invaded, poked at and inspected for dirt. So we left that room spotless with immaculately made beds and tidily hung uniforms. The place gleamed with spit and polish while Cyril and I had beds in the storeroom across the hall, sanctum sanctorum, but rating up there with a pig-sty. Our primitive ancestors did something like that too.

You see, housework has been the bane of human life since the beginning of time; people have been avoiding it for millions of years.

Moving has always been the way we humans have avoided housework. As soon as the cave or hovel became untenable because of the heaps of mammoth bones (or mammoth heaps of assorted bones) and the kids had completed all of their art work on the walls, the family moved to another cave or hovel, thus advancing the spread of humans until they reached Tierra del Fuego, Siberia or Ottawa, the ends of the earth, then they had to start tidying up, cleaning and throwing stuff away.

Naturally, the menfolk, being the thinkers of the families, delegated the tidying, cleaning and throwing away to the women. This was when the word ‘drudge’ came into being.

When the ‘drudges’ asked why the menfolk shouldn’t  share the burden of keeping house, the guys invented something they called ‘work’ and took off for hours at a time. It didn’t matter one iota what they did at ‘work’ as long as it wasn’t housework.

Inevitably, after a zillion years or so, the distaff side caught on because, although some of them like to act the ‘dumb blonde’ type, they are sharper than that.

They also discovered ‘work’ and so abandoned their hearths, homes and children in order to go to somewhere where they could dress up a little and do as little as their husbands had been doing for centuries.

They also brought in extra cash so that they might employ other ‘drudges’ to do the nasty business of looking behind stoves and fridges and rooting out all the nasties that lurk there, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting home-owner.

I have seriously considered putting my downstairs bathroom out of bounds then hanging a sign ‘unexploded bomb’ on the door. It would be close to the truth anyway. It’s dangerous down there.