Showing posts from April, 2013

Real Men

Spiders, it seems, are the secret to machismo. Women, asked by pollsters what vital ingredient marks out a real man, were in broad agreement: real men are unfazed by wildlife in the bathtub. They also support their local football team, drive their own car and earn more than their wives. So finds the stain removal firm, Dr Beckmann which commissioned the survey on household heroes. Quite why a stain removal firm wishes to plumb machismo is a mystery to me, but I could have saved them the trouble, for there is nothing I don't know about manliness. Why, I even possess many of the essential attributes myself. A real man, ladies, is someone who: fearlessly, when a menacing midnight sound wakes the household, plunges through the darkness and, without thought for his own wellbeing, swabs the pool of childish vomit on the landing.  grabs a knife in an emergency and, with a skilfully improvised stew, succours his defeated wife and little ones. with muscled vigour that brooks no diss

Mod Cons

I'm not a great believer in labour-saving devices. I evicted my husband's microwave when I moved into the vicarage. I rely on the remaining intact pages of my road map rather than entrust myself to a satnav. I've never owned a tumble-dryer and I would be clueless about loading a dishwasher. There are, in my view, few domestic challenges that can't be overcome by a dustpan and brush and a pair of Marigolds. I am, however, thrilled with my dual-function washing machine: whenever it drains a cycle, it washes the kitchen floor. Muddy paw prints and cemented cornflakes no longer crust my vinyl. Desiccated peas have been washed out from under the fridge and the mysterious scabs round the cooker feet have been dissolved by Fairy non-biological. Admittedly there are drawbacks. Lately the machine's thoroughness has turned the kitchen into a boating lake. Yesterday's copy of The Guardian is no longer adequate defence. I've had to restrict my laundering to Mondays

Artistic Sensibility

We are in a small gallery devoted to an artist I have never heard of. Gazing from the walls are rows of voluptuously lipped pre-Raphaelite women united by a common problem: keeping their robes decorously in place. I am resigned to the will of our host and embark on a dutiful examination of the brushstrokes. The children are less resigned and demand to know when we are leaving. Then, while I am studying a damsel whose curves are inadequate mooring for her gown, I realise I can no longer hear my brood. Hastily I glance round. They are moving slowly from picture to picture gazing raptly at each. They even seem to be making notes. 'They're doing well,' beams an elderly room warden. 'So nice to see children enjoying art.' I beam back, torn between pride and perplexity. I start to hope that our occasional dashes to the National Gallery to use the loos on London shopping trips have instilled in my twosome a sense of artistic integrity. I decide to replace our desiccate

The Art of Joy

Katetakes5 is celebrating the fact that her son rates David Bowie above One Direction. Heady with pride she wants the rest of us to teach our children that some pleasures are superior to adolescent hollering. I've never knowingly heard a song by One Direction. Come to think of it, I can't call to mind anything by David Bowie either. Anyone with pretence to taste and intellect knows that Doris Day outstrips all of them. It's therefore no trouble at all for me to teach my children five things that are better than a boy band: Stream wading. This was my birthday treat last year and this. There is an entrancing pleasure to clambering into a stream as far down as possible and paddling up it as far up as possible, defying the hidden gullies and submerged traffic cones and dangling en passant from tumbled trees. The patterns of water whirling round wellies, secret flowers on steep banks and the occasional fleeing rodent give the sense, unequalled on dry land, of being embedded