Sunday, 18 January 2015

Chore blimey, it's a revelation!

After much deliberation, the other week we bit the bullet and bought a dishwasher. Up to this point our only experience of them was during a couple of holidays where the cottage we'd rented happened to have one included in the kitchen, and that was a nice thing to have when the last thing you want to do when you're supposed to be having a week away from it all is to do the washing up. Or indeed any household chores.
So a week before it was delivered I took a trip to a DIY store to stock up on the required plumbing bits to modify the water supply and drainage ready for the new appliance to just plug straight in. I then spent a couple of hours the following day practising my vocabulary of old anglo-saxon words until everything was in place and ready for action. It would have been more stress-free if the wife hadn't decided to chuck a bowlful of dirty water down the kitchen sink while I had all the waste pipes removed for pressure-washing, but these things happen....

Now happily installed next to the washing machine, this device has been a revelation; yet another method of freeing up even more time for us to wonder what to do with ourselves. Thank goodness for Playstations.
Even so, the issue of finding something else to do with all this free time is still preferable to housework. I don't know anyone who actually likes doing household chores, and for many decades man has striven to take the arse-ache out of these mundane tasks. Automatic washing machines have probably been one of the biggest labour-saving devices to find their way into our homes. I remember when I was a mere ankle-biter watching my mother sweating over a sink of soapy water, washing all the clothes by hand, running them through an ancient mangle before pegging them out on the washing line. Even the upgrade to a twin-tub machine was a big step up from that, and she never looked back once she got an automatic washing machine, or "one of those newfangled contraptions" as my father would have said. All very well apart from the fact I don't remember ever seeing him do the laundry or even cooking - at least until mum died. Back when mum first bought a microwave, he refused to eat anything heated in it because he thought it would be radioactive or something. My dad takes technofear to a whole new level. Anyway, I digress...
Many of these appliances make us wonder once we have them, how we ever managed without. Whether it be a washing machine, a dishwasher, a microwave oven, a pressure washer or even a humble toaster, we free ourselves from some form of unwanted activity in order to spend the time doing things we'd rather be doing such as reading, arts & crafts, or drinking far too much bourbon.

So where to go from here? What other chores can be delegated to some autonomous device that won't judge you for being a lazy bastard who'd rather sit on the sofa playing Call Of Duty and eating cookies than scrubbing away the soap residue and pubic hairs from the bath with a scourer and a bottle of Flash?
There's the vacuuming of course and the dusting, both of which don't really take long. Once Henry has been dragged out of the cupboard and pushed around the place, and the dusting has been done wherever anyone is likely to notice, it's only a matter of about an hour's work in a small place like ours. Cleaning the bathroom and kitchen are jobs that take a monumental effort to force oneself to get up and make a start on, but admittedly are quite satisfying once completed. The thought occurs that we are in a position where we could pay a cleaner to come in once or twice a week to deal with those things. Alternatively we could get one of those autonomous robot vacuum cleaners so we can spend the day at work wondering if it has tripped over the rug or simply lost the will to live its dull repetitive life any longer and tried to head-butt itself to death on the skirting boards.

Mankind's innovations have over the years taken away so much of the daily drudgery that previous generations had to cope with in their lives, but it does make it very easy to lose sight of just how good we have it. Those who live in less developed or less affluent countries than our own are still struggling through life in ways we cannot easily comprehend. Should our normal privileged lives be suddenly brought crashing down around our ears, leaving us with no electricity, no water at the end of the tap, poor sanitation etc, I wonder how many of us would be able to cope?
In the meantime I'm still waiting for a Star Trek / Blake's 7 style teleporter to be invented so I can dispense with that most despised activity - commuting.

With a feeling of impending doom generated by eight pints
and a slightly dodgy kebab, Spock was taking no chances
of not making it to the lavatory on time....