Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Let's Talk About...

... housework. Or rather, let’s talk about how much housework chaps get up to do during the week.

Housework remains the last frontier to be crossed and conquered, the territory where we will plant our Male of the Species Flag once we have orbited around the sink and landed in front of the ironing board. This time, though, there will be no talk of conspiracy or dodgy images that might confuse viewers. We will have a dust-filled Hoover to prove our case.

When the moment arrives, we will be able to say that we, men, have finally claimed true ownership of housework. The glass ceiling has been broken. And whilst you are there, smashing that menacing and ubiquitous overhead surface do us a favour and get rid of the cobwebs, please. You know what spiders are like at this time of the year.

Joking aside (well, only just and that’s half-joking, by the way), what is it with us, blokes and housework? We have crossed other boundaries, for instance, our open-minded approach to grooming gave us the “metrosexual” years ago who has now metamorphosed into the “spornosexual”. With a full Brazilian. No problems with sharing girlfriend/wife’s night cream but sorting out the dirty laundry? You might as well book a place in the next “watching paint dry” avant-garde art show (possibly a future Turner prize?).

Your blog host has a confession to make. I am fond of some house chores. Cooking, cleaning (including vacuuming), doing the washing-up, ironing and mowing the lawn (I know it’s an outdoor activity but still inside the home, so it is technically speaking, housework)? Count me in. Doing the laundry, tidying up and dusting? Don’t like them. Especially the tidying up as a lot of the mess in our house is my responsibility.

It wasn’t always thus. If I were to attempt to chart my evolution in the housework chain in a scale of one to ten, one representing minimum housework and ten maximum, I’ve gone from zero (years lived in Cuba) to seven or eight (years lived in the far). The reason is simple: I grew up with four women in a one-bed flat in downtown Havana. Until thirteen the only other man in the house was my dad and when he finally got kicked out by my mum I remained as the sole beneficiary of my late Nan, late auntie, mum and – to a lesser extent – cousin’s attentions. If I ever picked up a broom to sweep, my grandma asked me with a straight-looking face: “Are you ill?” and snatched the broom away from me.

A fellow fighter in our campaign
That is why my form of rebellion arrived in the form of housework. Whereas some of my male contemporaries still have a laissez-faire attitude to domestic chores, I am of the opinion that this is where the next revolution will come from.

Let’s talk about housework, fellas, because this will be our first wave of “masculinism” (it’s not a proper words, by the way, I’ve just made it up. Sorry, I’m still working on the marketing side of this campaign. It’s not even a good word, I confess. Unlike “feminism” with three, “masculinism” has four syllables which makes it not catchy at all). So women fought for the vote, and then for their reproductive rights and later on for their right to wear whatever they wanted to wear? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, because we, men, will fight against the myriad prejudices, still rife in our society, that tar us with the unfair brush of being anti-housework. We shall fight these misconceptions on the beaches, we shall fight them on the landing grounds... Sorry, wrong speech. We shall fight them at the sink (not with fists, but with our Marigolds on), we shall fight them behind the couch, we shall fight them with an ironing board; we shall never surrender.

Let’s talk about housework. And let’s also talk about the first wave of “masculinism”. Now, fellow male bloggers and male readers, who of you will side with me? You can start by helping me find a new name for the campaign and get rid of the cobwebs.

© 2014

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 26th October at 10am (GMT)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

The changes arrive slowly. First it’s the early morning chill that makes you realise all of a sudden that it is not enough to don just a Lycra vest and shorts to cycle to work. Next it is the jumper one throws on to nip out to the shops or the tweed jacket bought in Brick Lane for a tenner that becomes our companion on informal outings. Tea goes back to its usual hot state instead of the iced variety favoured in summer (either way I am not a tea drinker, so that one does not apply to me). Hot chocolates and mochas, on the other hand, become my poison of choice.

It's autumn again.

Autumn is nature’s way of frowning upon the landscape. An auburn, orange, golden and red type of frown. A multi-coloured mist that descends upon us all. All the merriment of summer is drowned out by the early October showers. This is swiftly followed by an ankle-deep swamp of fallen leaves on the ground. By early December the autumn brown becomes winter brown until eventually it turns a winter white with the first snowfall.

But this year autumn has not shown its face in my part of London. We have had the washouts, oh, yes, we’ve had those. However, leaves remain a stubborn green, the seasonal crimson not yet a reality. I wait patiently until the front wheel of my bike parts the sea of leaves on my way to work turning me into a Moses for the day, as I do every year. I long for the dramatic sunsets, earlier, yes, but still dramatic. I feel jealous of you, country dwellers, witnesses to berry-gorging birds and filling up your lungs with the scent of heather.

Autumn is a season of longing, or as the Portuguese would put it, a season of saudade, one of my favourite words ever. My preference for this time of the year does not stem from the date on my birth certificate. No, even if I had been born in a different month of the year I would still have willingly changed the date in my certificate to September, October or November. I’m an autumn sign, regardless of the Zodiac. Central to this is the question of nostalgia, melancholy and remembrance. The way tree branches, pregnant with green leaves, grow thin in a matter of weeks reminds me of loss. Autumn’s music is a bandoneón, a fiddle, Bach’s “Italian” period and the wind softly whispering in my ear. What is it saying, you might wonder? Nature’s frown is on its way, kid, fret not.

So, I wait. Still, I wait.

© 2014

Photo taken by the blog author

Next Post: “Let’s Talk About...”, to be published on Wednesday 22nd October at 11:59pm (GMT)


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