River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a newcomer

July 2004

Marion has a playful look at our ever increasing "Nanny" state

With the nanny state encroaching new areas all the time I just give thanks that (at the time of going to press) there's no such thing as the skirting-board police, empowered to search out dusty hard-to-reach corners or an overlooked spider's web before issuing a stern caution - or even a fine.. It would certainly beat speed cameras as a quick and easy way of filling the coffers.

And I, for one, would live in constant fear of the dreaded knock at the door, as pushing a Hoover (or even a Dyson) around does not come high on my list of favourite activities. It's boring, you can't listen to the radio at the same time, and as soon as you've finished, it needs doing all over again. But would that stand up in court?

My main quarrel with the cat (apart from his Oscar-winning prima donna act when confronted with a worming pill) is the amount of extra housework such a small creature manages to create. Even people who don't like them admit that cats

are 'very clean animals', always grooming themselves when they have nothing more pressing to do, like eating or lying in the sun. But after they have vigorously licked all those parts that nobody else would want to reach, they stalk

off, leaving behind a deposit of fur and grime. "What did your last servant

die of?" I enquire plaintively as I follow his trail from room to room, armed with one of those sticky rollers that I buy by the lorryload.

Being out of love with household chores makes me a complete sucker for gadgets like sticky rollers. I eagerly await the arrival of the Lakeland catalogue, packed full of seductive-sounding gizmos that are going to take the pain out

of scrubbing and polishing. As I pore over it I realise that of course what I have always needed is one of those fringed dusters on a stick for cleaning behind radiators. And how have I lived this long without a pair of furry tongs for dusting venetian blinds? (Never mind that I don't actually have any venetian blinds.) I avidly read the glowing letters from satisfied customers before sending off for more labour-saving devices in the touching belief that my household will soon be as well organised as theirs.

It's a snare and a delusion, of course. Like making a list of things to do and kidding yourself that you have taken the first step in actually doing them. Once those Lakeland products have been unpacked from their boxes and put away

in the cupboard, there is no guarantee that they'll ever see the light of day again...

What if we were all like Quentin Crisp who shamelessly confessed in his autobiography: "There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse." That certainly wouldn't stand up in

court - but I might try for a plea of: "Without my glasses on, m'lud, I just couldn't see those spiders' webs." Or I could simply blame the cat.

Marion Clarke

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.