Monday, February 21, 2011

While the cat’s away….

….the mouse gets busy (whisper it who dares) spring-cleaning. Not that it’s actually spring here in the Mid-Wales hills, you understand, far from it. Also, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm not the world's most ardent housewife, especially in winter, when the days are so short. However, earlier in the week, when the sun managed to shine for a few precious minutes, I had a good look round and was so horrified by the depth of the dust that I decided I HAD to do something about it. 

Fortuitously, DH had arranged to visit his mother this weekend, so the chance to get on unimpeded was too good to miss. Dear as he is, it's so much easier doing things like spring-cleaning when he isn't around. I can stop for breaks and meals when convenient, rather than at usual times, and can shift all his clutter into one big pile in his office or workshop, rather than have him yelping "Don't move that, I'm just about to deal with it." I've heard that one before..... So once I’d waved him goodbye it was out with the duster and the other implements of domestic torture and into the fray.

I started downstairs and that was reasonably straightforward. Granted, there was my knitting stuff to subdue and sort before I could find the settee, but after that it all went like clockwork. The dust was duly disturbed and went off in a huff, the Dyson lurched even nearer to total exhaustion, but at least I can see the surface of the furniture again and we now have a sitting-room where we can actually sit, a dining-table with room for the dishes and a kitchen which positively begs to be cooked in.

Buoyed up by my initial success, I tackled upstairs – or at least the state of chaos known as my study. I knew there was a carpet in there somewhere and I was determined to find it or die in the attempt. Tying a string to the door handle and holding tightly to the other end, I advanced into the jungle surrounding my desk. It was touch and go for a while, but eventually, after a fierce struggle, I emerged triumphant.

For the first time in aeons I can open the bottom drawer of my filing-cabinet without having to shift the tottering piles of books and papers which normally cover the floor in front of it. It’s not that I’m an untidy worker, really I’m not. It’s just that work is so much more fun than filing: a recipe for chaos if ever I heard one. Still, for this brief moment in time, the books have all been shelved and the papers are nestling comfortably in their correct files.

Of course this pristine state of affairs won’t last, but at present I’m so smug it’s quite understandable. I’ve reminded myself what colour the carpet is and can kid myself yet again that at last I’m getting organised.

But it was a slow process getting there. The trouble is that this wasn’t like tidying the kitchen cupboards. These weren’t boring old tins and packets I was sorting but books and magazines and papers, and what they all had in common was lots and lots of irresistibly tempting print. And what do I always do when faced with print – why of course I read it.

As far back as I can remember I’ve been in love with reading. As a child, I’m told, I taught myself to read before school age by constantly asking my parents “What does that say?” whenever I came across words, any words, even on the side of a bus. After that I couldn’t see a cornflake packet on the breakfast table without reading every word on it and my first introduction to foreign languages was the French bit on the HP sauce bottle.

Later my long-suffering mother was forced to take me off fire-lighting duty and give me another chore, because, instead of lighting the fire with yesterday’s newspaper, I would just sit on the hearth rug and read it. This passion for reading is probably why I decided to become a librarian and is certainly why housework comes so low on my list of priorities. If it were a toss-up between dusting and reading, any kind of reading – well, which would you choose?

Image via Wylio


  1. Oh definitely reading. Every time. Or maybe knitting. Or gardening. Or actually anything rather than cleaning.But I do love the smug feeling of having a shiny home.

  2. Great, isn't it, Rosie? Shame it doesn't last, either the smugness or the shininess :-)

  3. I have to have the place to myself for plaintive call for tea and I give up the whole thing and pick up a book.

    Great when everything looks good again and the dust is conquered....but I can't really convince myself that it is worth doing.

  4. My sentiments entirely, Fly, which is why it can get so bad before I force myself to do it. DH is back this evening, so I'd better get the rest of the bedrooms done first :-)

  5. We only do it properly when we have visitors. Him Outdoors is a meticulous cleaner but doesn't have the knack of making it look as if you've done it even if you haven't done much - an art I have perfected over many years. He's happy that he knows it's done even if it doesn't look any different. I like more appreciation than that.

  6. Rosie, if it weren't for visitors, I doubt I'd do much either. What I forgot to mention in my post is that I had a visitor coming for the day yesterday - in other words motivation plus opportunity equals clean house. I'm rather good at the art of presentation too by now.

  7. Oh I'd rather read a book anyday than do housework. I only do it because I've been brainwashed into believing that it has to be done. The enjoyment of seeing everything clean and in its place only lasts a moment though, whereas a good book gives enjoyment for so much longer!

  8. Exactly, Ayak. How lovely to meet so many like-minded people. I shan't feel alone next time I slob around and read rather than doing what needs doing.

  9. Thank you for leading me to this delightful post. Oh, I do so sympathise with you in every respect - right down to reading the newspaper meant for the fire! I aspire to be minimalist, I really do, but there are so many books to be read and papers to file and crafty bits-and-pieces and children's detritus and and and....I console myself with the thought that all this is a sign of a full life, rather than merely a sign of a disorganised one.

  10. had fun writing it and thought it deserved to be seen again.

    One of the fun things about recycling this post and the topic is the number of people who have confessed to finding it hard to keep their homes tidy and even doubting whether it's worth all the effort. So comforting to the less organised among us. And of course with the demands of blogging I now have even less time to spend on housework. :-)

  11. Had to laugh at this. I am terrible at cleaning for exactly that very reason. (OK so I'm terrible anyway, but that just adds to it).

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. We inveterate readers have to stick together. It's even harder not to get distracted now I've added blogs to all my other reading. :-)


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