Thursday, 27 February 2014

I am lately of the impression that I  may have been misnamed as a child, it isn’t that I do not like my name , I am quite fond of it actually, but I am beginning to think I should have been christened Canute.

What do you mean who is Canute?  You know Canute, of course you do, everybody knows Canute,  he was the 11th century English king who sat on the beach at Southampton ,on his throne,  surrounded by assembled courtiers and dignitaries, crown and sceptre and all and bade the sea to retreat. As an expression of self belief and confidence or even possibly incipient megalomania  you have to admit it is pretty impressive.  Of course it would have been more impressive had it worked.

 But I digress it isn’t his gasconade arrogance that melds us together, far from it, in fact I am more likely to be the one insisting "no no after you" and apologising to the little wavelets as they canter up the beach soaking  my slippers than trying to force them to return poste haste whither they came. No it is the endless tide of detritus in this house of ours the flood of which I fight a losing battle on a daily, nay, hourly basis. Of course with the weather we have had of late it may as well be the sea I have as my adversary, the floor is so muddy form dog, cat  and human traffic that it looks horribly as if the tide has been forcing its way through the french windows with each high tide. That high tide occurring  on a daily basis at  around 5.30 in the afternoon when my sons  return home from college.

I really can not understand how it happens. A week ago the place was pristine, well alright if not quite pristine at least very much cleaner and tidier than it is now. We had a guest for the week and in a mad frenzy of domestic madness I swept ,polished, washed ,scrubbed and generally did the job of an overworked underpaid skivvy in order to make the place look less like the aftermarth of a alcohol and drug fueled rave in a student share house and more like country living interiors on prozac, chilled  and inviting without giving the impression that if you move the skilfully scattered cushions on the well plumped sofa your hostess may tear your hand off with her bare teeth.

Other people manage it why can't I ? I know its possible, after all I have dropped in unexpectedly  on friends who have a pack of house hounds and found not a dog hair in sight. I have visited others whose windows glisten in the sun and not with dirty fingers and dog noise trails like mine do, friends who have wood burners yet whose floors do not resemble the forest floor and whose dinning room tables are not buried under so many layers of trash that it  takes an archaeological dig to find the  telephone  before it stops ringing. In Hampshire cobwebs are called sluts lace, if that were the case I could open up a wedding shop with the amount of them that festoon my beams.

I used to be really quite good at it, really  I was, I have been in my time quite house proud but things changed and now somehow I have lost  the will to be a maid of all work. I will not hoover on demand, have no desire to dust things whether with feathers or otherwise,  even  to artfully drape throws on the corners of sofas is beyond my yearnings. I would far prefer to  lounge here amidst the flotsam of family life, lazy Labradors at my side jostling for ownership of the sofa, bobbing along happily and  read a good book.  I have fallen out with housewifery and there may well be no going back. Like poor old Canute I may as well admit defeat and surrender myself to the sea of domestic disorder and be done with it.I know when I am beaten.

Today there is a pub on the site where King Canute is reputed to have tested the waters, as it were. Over the years the sea has been pushed further and further back by successive land reclamation projects so perhaps you could say he achieved what he set out to do in the end after all , but, just like my attempts at house cleaning and tidying, it took much much longer than he had anticipated.

 I would like to think that on a quiet foggy night on the edge of Southampton docks sits a  ghostly figure on his carved wooden throne smirking and muttering "I told you so"  under his breathe as he watches the waves languidly licking the edge of the concrete docks and his feet stay dry. Perhaps if I wait long enough the tide will subside and I will find myself high and dry with everything washed clean by the receding waters. Meanwhile I can but dream.


  1. My mil now the queen of declutter and pristine floors was slut housewife of the year when I first met her. But then she had children living, 3 cats, 2 guineapigs with her plus worked full time. She had a cleaner but made no difference. I live in fear of her arrival know. Ironically my own mother despite also working, caring for her mother, having three of us plus numerous pets managed to keep a pristine house, even had to watch xmas film to sound of hoovering!, but never judges mine. One day you will be King Canut and in the meanwhile enjoy the book and those messy boys. Taking a break from ironing here myself, sodding tedious job. Feeling good after your post might take dog out instead, lol.

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  3. Hello Sarah,

    Now, we believe that there are some people who will not admit others into the house to do work in the misdirected, in our view, understanding that no-one could possibly iron/ Hoover/dust/wash/cook/clean as well as can be done by oneself. You, dear Sarah, need an army of workers and you deserve them. So, let them from the comfort of your chaise longue as they polish to perfection, dust to distraction and launder to heights of loveliness that you never knew existed. Lest you do not know where to find these household heroes, the pages of 'The Lady' should be of help!!

  4. Oh yes, do....the Lady would be perfect for you to find your tweeny.