Just recently I received an early inheritance (the best kind, because no one dies). It is a book that once belonged to my grandmother. Written by Peg Bracken, and published in 1963, it is entitled The I Hate To Housekeep Book – subtitled When and how to keep house without losing your mind.
It’s for women who don’t want to live in a pit of filth, nor be 24/7 spotless housekeepers, nor go about nursing grudges against all the housework they find themselves doing.
“Consider, for a moment, your spotless housekeeper. She housekeeps most of the time, apportioning various chores to different days: Tuesday morning is ironing morning. She calls this Not letting the House Get On Top Of Her. “But the occasional housekeeper doesn’t know she’ll be ironing that day, nor does she care to. It would depress her to know that this was the shape and colour of next Tuesday morning. She would rather just let it happen, should an ill-natured Providence so decree.”
No sooner do you start reading about how to make the most of a small garden – especially where eatables are concerned – than you hear about succession planting. The general idea is that most plants don’t take all year to grow, so why not have something else – or more of the same – ready to fill the vacated spot when harvest time arrives?
I freely confess that my organizational ability floundered at this challenge, even in theoretical form, much as a tortoise flounders when trying to do a Fosbury flop. (Something I suspect a flounder could do with ease.) I decided I’d just improvise as I went along.
So here we are in late spring, and the garden is beginning to see some succession. But not at all in the way I intended. Take the alyssum, for example.
When writing my answers to last week’s interview, the phrase “my trusty pot of tea” sprang unbidden to my lips – or rather fingertips. Possibly this was influenced by Richard IV’s “trusty fruit knife” which saw him safely through a single-handed confrontation with ten thousand Turks at the gates of Constantinople.
There is of course a long history of the naming of swords, particularly mythical or otherwise fictional ones – Excalibur, Durendal, Anduril, Rhindon – but mostly it’s just swords, axes, and hammers that get this acclaim, all weapons of assault and battery. Cooking pots, fountain pens, and other useful articles don’t generally rate a name, which is a bit depressing when you think how much more beneficial non-destructive things are.
Setting a much better example for us all is Lord Ickenham (a.k.a. Pongo Twistleton’s Uncle Fred), who sallies forth to the bathroom at Blandings Castle “armed with his great sponge Joyeuse”. Named, presumably, after Charlemagne’s sword Joyeuse, which would have been a much less pleasant bathtime companion.