Saturday, 16 January 2010

Space Oddities

(Originally written November 2009)

I finally tackled the tip of the merrily-decorated twinkling iceberg that is Christmas shopping this week. As with every year around this time my initial Christmassy cheer goes right out the painstakingly decorated window as I encounter other stressed shoppers whose only purpose in life seems to be to bump into me. As usual, I mutter to myself around clogged aisles of impulse buys about how I really ought to petition for a law to be introduced decreeing the exact range limitations an individual has to respect when in one’s presence, if they’re not a close friend, love interest or family member. Or all three.

And while they’re at it, how about a sub-law describing Rights of Way on Pavements? I.e. if you’re part of a couple please release your desperate clutches to allow a singleton to pass between you, or to enable yourselves to walk in single file so I can actually share the pavement and don’t have to walk in the road and risk being flattened, or be accosted by a bin/lamppost.

In extreme cases, in areas of concentrated known episodes of pedestrian rage, victims can be issued with Grease-style spurs which spring out of their shoes when attackers invade the designated allocated area of personal space.

* * *

I think it was during post-traumatic-shopping disorder I discovered evidence in my usual sanctuary of ‘home’ that feminism in practice is working a little too well. I entered the kitchen of the flat I currently share with 3 others to find a proud note from one of them drawing our attention to the fact she’d ‘scrubbed’ the kitchen and bathroom (largely full of her mess – teabags and hair dye seem to form her staple dietary needs). Upon closer inspection, however, it appears she had only swept the room with a glance. The washing up hadn’t been tackled at all, the overflowing bin hadn’t been taken out and there was a further note next to the still-stained hob with an arrow directing our gaze to aforementioned pasta sauce stains:

“Please could people clean up after themselves in future – I don’t want to play housewife again!”

After picking myself off a crumb-coated floor after I’d finished laughing at the incredulousness of this statement I felt shocked and, if I’m honest, a little angry. I am the main (unwilling) cleaner of the household: therefore am I viewed as ‘housewife’ too? Should I go the whole hog and make them packed lunches and attend to their sexual needs and complete all the other tasks we so readily dismiss housewives for carrying out yet which many of us would be lost without?

This day also marked the first, to my knowledge, that in a year of co-habitation she’d actually shown any knowledge of where the cleaning products live (the next step being learning how to use them effectively, ‘hun’). I guess to easily admit to such type of knowledge would label her too ‘housewifey’.

* * *

Next week I’ll be exploring the issue of Maths and Toilet Roll/Quantity versus quality: why it is unfair of you to buy a two pack of the luxury brand when I bought a 12 pack of the economy stuff when it was my turn. Be sure to tune in.

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