Kate Livingstone: It’s hard to find a gap for housework

Kate's got Halloween on the brain this week
Kate's got Halloween on the brain this week

It’s official ... I am the perfect neighbour!

What do I base my case on? After reading about a neighbourhood dispute when two families fell out over one hoovering an unbelievable 63 times in 24 hours, I realise that the people living near me having nothing to fear.

I’m not a sloth, well not really, and apparently my birth sign has me as one of the tidiest in the zodiac, but sometimes it’s just finding the time for housework.

When visiting friends and seeing what looks like a veritable show home with immaculate kitchen worktops – not a sticky fingerprint or wine glass ring in sight, tidy coffee tables and bathrooms where not a towel is out of place, I sometimes want to give myself a shake.

Then I remind myself that mine is a ‘home not a house’. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

There’s no point in looking for sympathy from my mother. Her retort is usually that today’s householders (well she does say housewives but that’s not really politically correct nowadays!) don’t know they’re born.

She usually starts off: “In my day, we had to get up and boil the water on a Monday morning before we could tackle the washing. Then we had to scrub it on a washboard, put it through a mangle then hang it on the line to dry.

“And if it was a wet day, then it had to hang all over the house. We didn’t have a washing machine that you just put dirty clothes in and switch it on.”

Usually that is enough to set her off talking about beating rugs outside with an instrument that looks like it belongs in a medieval torture chamber, down on her knees scrubbing floors with carbolic soap and cleaning out the fireplace every day.

While I get her point that nowadays looking after a home is so much easier with all the machines and gadgets that we have, I try to tell her that 50 years ago people didn’t have the pressure that modern women, oh alright, men too have.

For a start, far more women work in paid employment – notice how I deflect any criticism that what they do in the home is not work! And the hours that we all put in are often ridiculous. Who hasn’t stayed on for an extra hour or two to cope with a rush job?

And there’s all that pressure to stay fit, so people pop into the gym on the way home.

Most nights I come home, make something to eat and collapse on the couch for the rest of the evening.

Then my weekends are often taken up with spending time with family and friends.

But on the plus side, my neighbours will never be bothered by my hoovering!