Monday, 23 February 2015

Dirty Linen

I am not the most vigilant of housewives. I can't boil the kettle without setting fire to the tea towel. I didn't realise that my new dressing gown has a polar bear hood with ears until a parishioner pointed it out in Co-op and I was startled when the hard lump that had distorted the marital duvet cover all week revealed itself to be my son's missing school uniform.



However, there is one domestic chore over which I am painstaking. Laundry seems to fill otherwise stalwart souls with dread. It needn't. Over many years of domestic management I have perfected a routine that eliminates the most onerous aspects - like ironing, for instance, and the ordeal of Folding Away. For your sakes, I'm prepared to air my dirty linen in public so that you too can keep on top of the family smalls without heartache.

Usually the vicarage line basket looks like this:


Occasionally it looks like this, but that's usually when I've tipped everything out to hunt down my mobile phone:


Transferring one drum-loads worth to the washing machine once the lid no longer shuts has a reassuring visible effect and that's all you need do to keep up appearances for the next week or so. For when the wash programme has finished I leave the contents to marinade for a few days by which time the funny smell justifies another short cycle and defers the Evil Moment of Hanging It All Up.

Next comes the exciting part - sorting through the treasures that miraculously emerge from a hot wash. A bit like a high street ATM is our Bosch - you insert a sheaf of Y-fronts and out comes hard cash (and innumerable bonus extras). Money laundering is big business in the vicarage - but I have to say that Cadbury's Flakes taste better unwashed.



The Evil Moment of Hanging It All Up is made more evil by the blight of socks. It's a curious fact that however many washes you do none of them ever matches up, even when they're all black or striped.



Embrace this as a good thing, though. It means you can put the singletons into a transit camp under the bed which saves you sorting them into their drawers. When the Vicar finally notices that he's run out of black socks he just buys new ones. 

Once you have ornamented your airer with underwear, you can take it easy for a couple of days until you find that the lid of the linen basket won't shut again. Then, of course, you have to clear the rack to make way for the next tranche. To do this, fling the relevant items outside the relevant bedroom door and leave them there. This is not indolence, this is teaching your children independence. 



Within the week they will have tired of stepping over them to get to their iPods and will gather them up and thrust them back in the linen basket to save themselves the trouble of putting them away. Whereupon you repeat the drum-filling, marinading, rewashing, hanging process and thereby also avoid having to wrestle clothes hangers and half-hinged wardrobe doors. 

I can't lie. There will come a point when the landing is inaccessible because of the linen mounds, the laws of gravity forbid any additions to the linen basket, the drying rack is still sagging with last month's washing and the family has run out of underpants. At this stage you do have to bite the bullet and find homes for the backlog. This process need never, though, under any circumstance involve an ironing board. Sheets slept in for a night will only crease up and wrinkles miraculously smooth from clothing after a few hours of wearing. 

Nor need you bother about folding. They'll inevitably be hurled to the floor when family members are seeking their missing chewing gum/haemorrhoid cream/dog collars. Simply employ your child's recorder to batten them down so that the drawer/door shuts and, while your neighbours are toiling over their ironing piles, go get a life in front of The Home Show

The vicarage linen cupboard

Have you any labour-saving tips to share? Or any spare black socks in search of a life partner? 





19 comments:

  1. Love it! Thanks for a great laugh.

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  2. This is a carbon copy of my house. I knew I had it all sussed - I just needed someone to point it out to me.

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    1. I thought of you when I wrote this. I recall you saying when I showed my linen cupboard in my last house but one that yours was identical.

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  3. Sometimes I read your posts and I'm confused, I'm confused because I think for a moment that I might have written them! Then I wonder if in fact I'm in some kind of Truman show and my life is being aired live and you drop in a post every now and then just to baffle me. I often wear Miss Mac's funky monkey dressing gown whilst walking the dog, it too has a hood (but sadly no ears) and a zip which I think is ingenious, more dressing gowns should have zips, it makes it far more acceptable to wear them in public if they do don't you think? I have an ironing board I'm proud to say, I use it for wallpaper pasting and my iron came in very useful a while ago when Miss Macs homework was a little wrinkled. I have many, many spare black socks in need of a partner, perhaps we could set up some kind of sock speed dating?

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    1. I think we are probably related. When we've decided on a trysting place for those singleton socks we might even meet!

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  4. You make me laugh. And cringe! Couldn't be doing with all that mess and I'm not even that tidy myself ;) TBH I'm envious. With two kids and two students and five beds to change (more often than you'd approve of) my washing machine has two loads a day. I'm obviously doing something really wrong. Must try harder.

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    1. Don't tell me you're one of those purists who insist on changing sheets once a month!

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  5. I think this will change my life. Brilliant - thank you

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  6. My whole life is the laundry...... and I dread the Folding Away. I let the dried laundry stack up for days until it starts erupting and there's a larva flow of kickers and I'm forced into the deed. Thursday I call my change over days - the day of tearing off the old covers and putting on clean ones. Brilliant as always Matron! X

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    1. Larva flow of knickers? That sounds really alarming! Once a week is surely way to often to change sheets.

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  7. Why don't you start a dating site for lone socks? Their owners could meet up, and who knows? you might not only match some sock pairs up, you might also be responsible for some happy human relationships too.

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    1. Someone else has suggested the same thing. I think there is a real social need for such a thing. We could call it Lonely Soles. Can you suggest a venue and we could all bring our waifs along.

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  8. I can act as a sort of marriage bureau for your black socks if you like. There are plenty here who would love to meet them and form a relationship.

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    1. You get it up and running and we can all send you photos of our solitary black socks with diagonal lines, black socks with vertical lines, black socks with criss cross stitch tops and all the myriad unmatchable variations on the theme.

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  9. Do you know Anthea Turner (aka The High Priestess of Folded Away Linens and Handy Wicker Baskets)? I'm sure you'd get on like a, er, teatowel on fire. x

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