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A while ago, my mum bought my dad and I a book. Not any book, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t warrant a little essay. The book was called “How to Get Things Really Flat: A Man’s Guide to Ironing, Dusting and Other Household Arts“, and it went into the fine arts of domestic life from a man’s point of view. There was deep irony behind the purchase, natch – and its a phenomenon that is widely derided as a man’s excuse to sit around and play games all day. I’m half way through, and it all seems easy enough – just a bit of common sense, patience and thought, and you’re there. Patience and thought I have. It’s the common sense part I have trouble with.
The facts, I’m afraid, are simple: men in my family are next to useless at domestic tasks. I’ve no more confidence that I could iron a t-shirt than I have of ever loading a dishwasher correctly. Sorting paperwork moves me to distraction within seconds, and marshalling newspapers and other titbits into neat piles and cupboards is completely beyond me. And those settings on the dishwasher? No idea, despite having read the manual and been told countless times.
And it’s not as if I haven’t tried to be good at these things. I’ve tried to cook pizzas for Michelle – that’s about the limit I feel I can stretch to – and more often than not it’s come out over- or undercooked. And on one memorable night, burnt and upside-down on the oven floor. However, I can do complex tasks with great ease, and seem to pick up new non-domestic skills like they’re going out of fashion.
After 10 years of knowing me, 4 years of living with me and 3 months of wedded bliss, I think Michelle has given up any hope, in the same way that my mum and countless other women in our family have given up hope. I stand by the facts: some men just can’t make things flat, no matter how hard they push.