In praise of dusting

Several hours awake each night took its toll yesterday.  I cooked dinner, we ate it, I sat on the sofa and was suddenly exhausted.  I slept briefly, then lumbered upstairs, bathed and was in bed before 9 – and didn’t get up until 9 this morning.  Still several wakeful hours, but lots of sleep around them.

I’ve been very impressed by online service this week.  I ordered a new electric blanket from John Lewis on Monday afternoon and, rather than the promised 5 working days, I had a despatch email at 4.30 the next morning (yes, I was awake to receive it) and it arrived yesterday morning.  The Sage’s laptop’s lead stopped working and he couldn’t charge his computer, which was a disaster, darlings, a disaster – off eBay for a whole two days! – so Ronan found me a replacement, I ordered it on Tuesday afternoon (that was from eBay) and it arrived in yesterday morning’s post soon after 9 am.  Terribly impressive, it beats the old ‘allow 28 days for delivery’ from pre-internet mail order into a cocked hat.

I lay in bed this morning listening to the Sage clearing out the fireplace.  It’s one of the pleasant sounds in life isn’t it, listening to someone else working for your benefit?  His too, of course – we both love a proper fire and wouldn’t be without it for anything.  There is a fair bit of work, in the carrying in of the coal and wood and clearing out the grate, but what isn’t any bother is the extra housework.

I did a spot of dusting this morning, and was struck anew by how easy it is!  Dusting is marvellous really, have you ever noticed?  Just a wipe and the dust is simply gone!  A daysworth or a yearsworth, it makes no difference, it’s as good natured as can be and just wipes off in a moment.

I’m a casual housekeeper, I have no hesitation or shame in admitting it.  I don’t like the house to be too tidy.  If there aren’t books and newspapers about, a house doesn’t look lived in and if all the cushions are perfectly plumped up, no one dares sit down comfortably.  The house used to need more cleaning when Chester, my late setter, was alive, because he lounged on the furniture and shed hairs all over the place, which tended to gather in drifts.  So I had to sweep and hoover frequently – and how I wish I still had to.  I’d do any amount of extra work if it would bring lovely Chester back.  Now, I tend only to clear cobwebs away when the dust on them starts to turn brown – and am careful, of course, to leave the spiders, which are my friends.

But dusting is easy as pie, and you don’t even need a duster.  Who hasn’t, when expecting guests to arrive at any moment, noticed a shaft of sunlight on a table showing up the one item you omitted to dust, and swept a tissue or even the side of a hand over it?

Oh.  Okay, well, I have, lots of times.  Anyway, the point is that it does the bizz.

Although mind you, it’s only dust.  Who cares anyway?


26 comments on “In praise of dusting

  1. Mrs Rine

    I am far from house proud (there is probably an algorithm linking dog people and tolerance of mud, grit etc). There is something quite satisfying about clearing off a layer of dust that has built up, rather than doing it daily (or even weekly) and not being able to see any difference.

  2. Z

    Excellent, Tim!

    Daily dusting is inefficient too, Mrs R. Think of all the wasted hours, when it takes no longer to sweep away that satisfyingly visible layer than the daily mote. You’re a woman after my own heart.

  3. 63mago

    A very good memory from my childhood is Sunday morning. Late morning, because Sunday was the only day to sleep longer. And it was very nice to stay in bed and hear the sounds from the kitchen, like plates on the table, rattle of pots, the sound of the oven door etc.

  4. Z

    I should say, of course, that I do absolutely respect, admire even, those whose houses are clean and reasonably tidy at all times. I’ll never be one of them, though.

    Yes, Georgie, it is. By the spring, anyway, I hope.

    Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, as Betjeman put it, Mago. I value those flashes of memory too.

  5. Z

    Won’t it be great when you actually meet, Tim? And Chris too – well, I hope – I’m tempting him with pavlova. I shall sit and listen to brilliant conversation and feel such a fabulous hostess without actually having to do or say anything.

  6. Tim

    Nothing could dissuade me from the belief that you’ll be a fabulous hostess, Z. But you won’t be allowed to get away with the ‘not say anything’ bit. Right, guys?

  7. Dandelion

    Hmm. I do like dusting too, but in my experience, if you swipe off a good old bit of dust, it often gets pushed together into a dense piece and falls on the floor where it is visible like tiny tumbleweeds. Also, if you’re using your hand, you can’t do more than one or two sweeps without spreading back the dust you just displaced.

    Therefore, what I like to do (which is just as satisfying, only does the job better), is to use a hoover. Tabletops, windowsills, computer keyboard, all cleansed with a sweep of the hose.

  8. Z

    You note that no one who has met me has any comment to make on that, Tim.

    Dandelion, I’m terribly impressed. It takes fortitude over a long period to build up dust of that splendid depth. You would feel right at home here.

    I haven’t hung out for ages, Mago. What a good idea!

  9. Nellig

    Yes dusting is definitely pink, indeed camp, and best-practice guidelines recommend using one of those brightly-coloured feather dusters on a long stick while standing on one tiptoe (sorry, tippy-toe). I always try to do this if at all possible.

    My mother followed the Quentin Crisp method, which is just to leave the dust there forever, because after the first four years it doesn’t get any worse.

  10. Z

    Fortunately, hoovering is unisex, so you’ll be all right in Dandelion’s house, Sir B and Nellig.

    Longterm dust is fine as long as you don’t weaken in the least. I follow the same method with brass, that left in the house since my in-laws’ day not having been cleaned for 27 years. It looks fine.

  11. Blue Witch

    The best money we spend every week is on a house cleaner. Like a dishwasher – you never knew you needed one until you’ve had one, but once you have, you’d never let it go. Takes all the stress out of life.

    And as for the propsect of Z saying nothing… I somehow don’t see it myself 😉

  12. Tim

    I’ve had several cleaners. Sorry, I’ll rephrase that – I’ve employed several cleaners. They intruded on my routines, and I couldn’t wait for them to finish so I could get on with messing the place up again.


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