Ever wondered the best ways to stop your house looking like there’s been an explosion in the cupboards?
I know certainly have. I have considered cultivating an air of Bohemian introspectiveness and pretending my mind is too busy on higher things to spend time dusting the mantelpiece or hoovering the stairs, but it’s unlikely to wash with people who know me, and know that the majority of the time “higher things” probably means a new hat.
A few months ago I was sent “Her Ladyship’s Guide to Running One’s Home” for review and I’ve been very much enjoying dipping in and out of it.
It’s one of those household hints and tips books that many of us will remember our Mothers having when they were children. Except this one is far wittier and has a far more practical approach to household chores, including advice on dispensing with party guests that won’t take the hint (disappearing and reappearing in your dressing gown) and making your lawn look like you’ve mowed it when you haven’t (trim the edges).
The book contains sections on regular household cleaning, spring cleaning, entertaining, and dealing with household staff. They are based largely around “traditional” advice and techniques, such as you might find in Mrs Beeton, but with a healthy dose of modern realism thrown in. In th 1940s, for instance, the advice was to clean the downstairs of your house first, in case visitors dropped by, in the modern world where unannounced visitors are greeted with suspicion and confusion rather than a nice cup of tea the book suggests starting upstairs, as disturbed dust will naturally fall downwards.
If I had a criticism of the book, it would be that once again it assumes Women have the largest responsibility for the housework. It does address this in it’s introduction, claiming that it is merely a matter of “authorial convenience” and she would be interested from any men who “know how to change the dust bag on the vacuum cleaner or would think of putting flowers in a guest bedroom”
Whilst I recognise that it is still a fact that women are largely responsible for the housework in most households, this is unlikely to change while we continue to address housekeeping literature solely at women, and address men with a a vaguely patronising “don’t worry your pretty little head about it” air and assume they are too incompetent and ham fisted to keep a tidy house, concerning themselves, presumably, largely with household chores that involve hammers and saving women from mice.
Still, that little bugbear aside, this is a nicely written, amusing and useful book. My house has yet to become a vision of tidiness and organisation, but I’m certainly feeling more inspired to pick my clothes up off the floor…..
Her Ladyship’s Guide to Running One’s Home is currently available on Amazon for £6.74. Note, this is an affiliate link, if you fancy buying the book through it I earn a few pennies. If you hate me and want me to be poor you can go directly to Amazon and search for it…..