|I Hate Ironing|
Stupid bloody bastard ironing.
Last summer, an old friend of mine had a reunion. Pals from school and university gathered in Leeds to reminisce about times gone by and exchange stories of the kind of things she'd get up to in her more carefree years. Much of it was unsuitable for broadcast: tales of drunken debauchery and misguided liaisons. It was entertaining for everyone except her new boyfriend, a relatively mild mannered maths teacher who had made the trip up from the south of England to meet all these people. By the end of the night he was more than a little shell shocked. There were arguments, and there were tears.
“I can handle your history,” he said. “I can handle your parties and your overindulgences and even your flings. But I am not going out with somebody who irons her sheets.”
They are still very happy together, but I know how he feels. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, hoovering, I can stomach. But there's something about ironing that sucks the life right out of me.
It's not my iron. I've got a great iron, having shelled out more than £30 for a posh one with four steam settings, self-limescale-removal and a special surface which reduces friction to facilitate smoother gliding – or so it claims. It does everything in its power to endear itself to the young male householder, laden with buttons and technical wizardry, but none of that makes me like ironing any better.
This causes problems. The modern, office-dwelling male is required to wear a shirt, and that's an item of clothing which cannot survive without the touch of an iron.
Washing machines may do their very worst to jeans or trousers, yet most of the damage can be repaired with a sharp shake and a thoughtful hang. T-shirts and jumpers have a tougher time, but even they can be passable if you hang them on a radiator and lower your standards. But there's no such luck with shirts.
The washing process, I suspect, is a kind of release valve for shirts.
They spend so much time looking smart and official that they need to go off the rails every now and again just to keep sane. Pop them into the washing machine and they let rip, scrunching up into tight balls, flinging themselves at obscure angles against all the other clothes and collecting creases with the magnetism of a glue-covered hamster romping through a bowl of Rice Krispies.
There is a rare breed of shirt which does not behave like this. I had one once. No matter what the world would throw at it, it would emerge bright and clean and crease-free from the washer, and dry after a couple of hours. I have no idea how it worked. Sometimes I would try to make sense of the strange science behind it, but the label just said "100 per cent cotton". That was what the label on all of my annoying normal shirts said too. I never found out the secret.
Eventually some of the buttons fell off and I gave it to Oxfam.
Now I'm a prisoner of my own wardrobe. I have three shirts which can be worn with creases – although if I'm honest, they all look too scruffy – and that gets me as far as Wednesday. For the rest of the working week I hide the jumble of creases beneath a jumper.
Meanwhile, a collection of delightful but crinkled garments lives on coat hangers inside my bedroom, to be wheeled out once a month when I become unusually houseproud and iron almost everything I own.
Everything except my sheets, at least. That would be insane.
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