Domestic goddessness – to be avoided at all costs

If there is one thing I hate worse than ironing, it’s more ironing.

Ironing is at its worst in summer. My husband wears a minimum of 12 shirts a week. After work he rushes upstairs to change into his shorts (I know, but there’s nothing I can do to stop him) plus a short-sleeved shirt. Not, you notice, a handy no-need-to-iron polo shirt.

He’s a button-up the front kind of man and though it looks smarter, it also means ironing.

Meanwhile, in an otherwise non-iron wardrobe of clothes, I am forced by higher temperatures into linen trousers.

So, just when the weather gets really hot, you have to crank the iron to its highest setting, and endure sauna-like clouds of steam while trying to work out where the trouser crease should be (down the sides or up the middle). A friend got so warm she decided to iron in her bra and pants and gave herself a nasty burn across her midriff. So as well as suffering temperatures in the high 80s, topped up by extreme humidity, you have to wear protective clothing.


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It’s like Journey to the Centre of the Earth without the dinosaurs.

For 10 months of the year I am non-iron Lycra Lynne and never in need of a press (except when naked). Elasticated material stretches, it re-forms and, best of all, it doesn’t crease.

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But there can be drawbacks. In the tropical climes of the Eden Project’s rainforest dome one chilly April, I began to glow (perspire) so heavily my rollneck sweater stuck to me. I had to disappear behind a native hut and peel it off. My husband, in a T-shirt and shirt, donated the former to preserve my modesty. By then, frankly, I was past caring. I would have happily stripped off and stood under the waterfall.

I’m not sure whether the subsequent charge would have been outraging public decency or incitement to run screaming from the dome. It would, I suppose, have given me a criminal record... to add to my 80s Greatest Hits compilation.

In more mature women of little muscle tone, elasticated fabrics can also accentuate the bumps. Rear-boobs – the ones that burgeon on your back when your bra digs in (applies mostly to women) – are especially apparent in a figure-hugging top. Leggings – which I would only wear as a bet – likewise enhance the furrow of a knicker leg between upper and lower buttocks*. And yes, I know a thong prevents such a dent forming but the sight of unfettered buttocks shuddering along the high street can be strangely hypnotic. Nobody wants eyes boring into their bottoms.

I can’t pretend I am a martyr to the ironing board. My husband is a willing ironist; just as well.

What I need to know is, how big does an ironing pile have to be before I am a sloven? Because mine is pretty big now and my husband is now having to go to work in his C-list shirts.

I did manage to spend an hour ironing, the other day, and by the time I got to the eighth shirt I found myself chanting: “right side, sleeve, cuff, left side, sleeve, cuff, back, yoke, collar and done.”

Eat your heart out, Dylan Thomas.

In one of my first jobs I had a boss who used to iron his shirt sleeves (not at work) so they had no crease. This, he said, was the correct way to do them and you simply had to keep turning the sleeve around, little by little. That, I vowed, was never going to happen in my house.

I haven’t always been so resistant. There was a time, in ye olden days of sheets and blankets, that I starched pillowcases and tea towels. Now I happily accept that when bedlinen says “non-iron” it means just that. I find housework a dreadful chore and I don’t even have teenagers.

I well remember those stimulating exchanges with a surly 15-year-old.

“Have you seen the state of your bedroom?” you call down the stairs. And the answer “Huh?” comes from inside the bedroom, from somewhere behind the pile of clothes, books, homework, textbooks, cans, wrappers, and mugs that had been missing for months.

If you’re lucky it will be no more than two years before the aforementioned teenager emerges from his/her bedroom as a sentient, articulate, well-rounded human being.

And on the subject of housework, let’s clear up a couple of points:

When should a room be dusted? Is it (a) when it is dusty or (b) when your mum’s coming for lunch? (correct answer b)

Likewise vacuuming. Does upstairs need hoovering less because no one but you will see it? (yes).

*These are not two small villages on the Suffolk/Norfolk border as far as I’m aware

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