God, I’m depressed. I’m in one of those vortexes created by sudden child-related anxiety, work doubts, lack of Vitamin D, being over 40, lack of exercise, the rain, the end of Christmas and therefore the loss of True Purpose.
I’ve also had no domestic help since the start of December. I need to be careful what I say about this because I know domestic help is a hot-button subject. Many of you have never had any domestic help and clean your houses, on your own, to a high standard while also working many hours a week as a nurse or a lawyer. Or, you have 25 hours of help a week so that you can spend most of your time in bed reading Hello! Or something in between. There’s a huge, complicated hinterland of morality attached to domestic help. Caitlin Moran is very good on this, saying something about if there’s a Mess the Woman must clean the Mess, written during first lockdown when we couldn’t have our cleaners and we were all losing our minds… anyway it was a great piece.
I’ve got nothing to add to all that, it’s just that being a full-time housekeeper has been a slight change in my circumstance even though when I did have a cleaner, it’s not like I didn’t do a shitload of housework on top of her hours. Doing everything, as I must do now, isn’t bad or good, it’s just discombobulating. And I want to say now that that I don’t think that cleaning my house and doing all the laundry is making me especially depressed. In fact, there’s a great deal to be said for cleaning your own house.
For example: I know exactly where everything is; there isn’t someone else pottering around in my house, which can be annoying; being a boss is crap, I’m relieved not to have to be in charge of someone else; I don’t have to deal with the low-level irritation-followed-by-guilt when a cleaner consistently isn’t doing something right, or doing it at all.
In fact, more gets done because rather than sit about thinking “Why isn’t she wiping down those shelves?” but not actually asking her to do it because it seems mad and petty, I wipe down the shelves myself. And then they’re done.
It’s got to the point where I’ve started to experience something like cleaning amnesia, where I clean the kitchen or clear the laundry room or clean the bathroom and I leave the place and then come back half an hour later and briefly think “Wow, who’s cleaned the..? Oh… it was me.” It’s possible to zone out completely while cleaning, meaning you can lose touch with that forward-facing part of yourself, in the way that you can while driving, relying only on muscle memory and lizard brain. I think it’s a state of zen consciousness that you are supposed to achieve during meditation, but rather than downloading any paying for Headspace all you need to do is sweep the kitchen floor.
I can see how it would be such a simple life, so pure somehow, to never write another word and just housekeep for the rest of my life. And cleaning can easily take over your entire life. It’s never finished, in the way that writing a piece for the paper is. But that has led to a slight existential crisis for me. Who am I? Would I just happier if I did nothing except clean and tidy and fold? I haven’t even looked that hard for a new cleaner, I’m not sure I want to let it all go. Sometimes I think that doing all the cleaning in the house is demolishing a side of my personality dismantling me brick by brick. At others I think it is the only thing staving off a full-on can’t-get-out-of-bed funk.
By the way, has everyone got an e-Cloth mop? Life-changing. It’s a steel mop that comes with a flat head with velcro on one side and you stick a flat microfibre mop-head on it and clean the floor and then when you’re finished you rip off the mop-head and stick it in the washing machine with all your other e-Cloths at the end of the week! No more sloshing water about the place, or lugging a mop bucket around.
In non-cleaning, non-depression news, I am very pleased to be able to recommend to you these cargo pants by Dr Denim, which are back in stock. This is a Scandinavian brand, which is only available in this country via Asos. These cargo pants are practical (great for cleaning in) and flattering, made from a really beautiful twill fabric. They are high-waisted and come in a variety of lengths. If you do get a pair, don’t despair if at first they seem a bit of a funny shape as you have to wear them in for about for a week or so. They are not too wide and if you pay attention to the measurements, you can make sure yours fall short of the bottom of your shoe so that they don’t drag in puddles.
In more, other news, the list of technical problems with WordPress, (which hosts this site), has led me to think it might be best to move over to Substack. I’ve been with WordPress for 5 years and I think it’s time to modernise and move on, as well as the fact that I simply don’t need all the formatting tools that you get with WordPress (and moreover don’t understand how to use them). This won’t mean much to you but it just seems to be a more efficient way of doing things. The only hassle to you will be signing up for a Substack account, but once you’ve done that I think things will run immeasurably more smoothly.