Saturday, 10 January 2009

My Secret Vice

A man struggles along a dusty road towards a castle. It has taken him many months of travelling to get this far. He has come part of the way by boat, part on horseback, but most on his own two feet and he is weary now but in sight of his goal where his beloved waits for him. He must reach the castle gates before the stroke of noon or she will believe that he has forsaken her. It is now a quarter to twelve but there is still plenty of time. Time, indeed, to stop for a moment to admire the flowers growing by the roadside. 

But what’s this? He’s never seen one like this before. He must look more closely. Wait, here’s another unique specimen. And surely these beetles are quite different to any he has seen before. He carries in his knapsack a field guide to insects and flowers and he takes it now out to consult it. Ah yes, there are the beetles and sure enough, these are the flowers on which they regularly feed. He must make a note of this to tell his beloved for she is as interested in wildlife as he is himself. His beloved! Oh my goodness! He has forgotten the time. Hastily, he stuffs the book back in his knapsack and bolts towards the castle but it is too late. The castle bell has already begun to toll the hour and with a despairing shriek his beloved casts herself from the battlements into the depths of the moat below.

Why do we do it? Get everything set up for writing and then find ourselves distracted by something which is so immediately compelling that we are forced to while away precious time  attending to it. Every writer knows this syndrome. And we all have our own favourite displacement activities, whether they be making cups of coffee, smoking cigarettes, sharpening pencils, defragmenting the computer, rearranging files, answering emails, browsing the internet or blogging.

My favourite distraction is one that scarcely dares to speak its name, one that most men would be ashamed to admit, one that will win me nothing but scorn and derision, particularly from women who curl their upper lips in a snarl when they hear my confession, Nevertheless, I am coming out of the closet to admit that my secret passion is ironing.

I have a beautiful study with an enormous oak desk, an old oak chest against one wall, an antique French wardrobe in one corner, and a hideous metal ironing board in the centre. Every now and then, when the pressure of writing gets too great for me, I get up from my desk, turn on the iron and set to work.

I have all the accoutrements, including scented ironing water and instruments to remove lint and bobbles from clothing and there is nothing I will not iron: everything from tea towels to fitted sheets. Fitted sheets, I hear you gasp! But surely the whole point of fitted sheets is that they don’t need ironing. Yes, but I like them ironed.

I realise that I will have plummeted in the estimation of my readers after this admission but I cannot help that. Ironing helps me both to think and to suspend thinking when necessary. It is the punctuation in my writing day and at night, after a hard day’s work there is nothing more satisfying than to slip in between crisply ironed sheets of Egyptian cotton and sleep the sleep of the righteous.

1 comment:

Foxi Rosie said...

You have hardly gone down in my estimation at least. I am not worthy, I loathe the chore so anyone who seeks it out for whatever reason and embraces it with the tenderness it deserves, I take my hat off to.

The punctuation I seek out is cooking... ironing would be the weight watchers answer to food control...