When I was at boarding school I loved to iron my clothes, or rather stomp on them with a sputting iron. The results were often less than perfect but the smell of hot steam reminded me of home. The smell of singeing my own clothes reminds me of something else entirely.
Much later, when my own daughter wore school uniform, I was less keen on the chore of ironing 5 teeny, tiny, all cotton, crispy, crumpled shirts, although I am very much in favour of uniforms in principle, as they make for a much speedier decision making process in the morning. I also adhere to the underlying principal of school uniform, the ‘level playing field’ principal of blindness to social class.
Much later still, I married a man who ironed his own shirts and moved to America. Strangely, my own mother joked about our nuptials, “now you’ll have no choice but to buy a iron!” Her glee seemed disproportionate, her delight, distortedly warped. I had never before associated marriage with ironing. I vowed that despite my legal obligations to love, honour and obey, I would never, under any circumstances, ever iron anything. I would remain true to my fusty dusty feminist principles, inviolate and violent.
For thirteen years of marriage the iron and it’s board are resurrected from the garage twice a year, when Nonna comes to visit. We spend considerable quantities of time removing cobwebs, oiling hinges and replacing covers and padding. We adjust the height to accommodate a seated ironer. We wedge the foot to prevent the wobble. We dig out the extension cord to permit ironing to take place in the centre of any room that the children happen to be playing. The children play and Nonna barks warnings to protect teetering piles of neatly starched linens.
But not today.
“Eh Maddy?” she giggles. I lift my steamed up bifocals to look at Nonna and wipe my fetid brow.
“You are lie to me I think.” She grins.
“You said that you didn’t do any ironing.”
“Hmmm I know, but……”
“Yes, times change.”
A whole new skill revival for me.