As soon as I come in from work, it is there. As I watch EastEnders, it is there. As I ‘cook’ my dinner (usually just slinging a frozen monstrosity in the oven), it is there. What is there, I hear you cry, unless you’ve already got bored and gone to read something else. What is there? Well, I’ll tell you…other people’s bloody washing up, that’s what. I seem to have this knack that no matter where I live and whom I live with, they will invariably have an allergic reaction to Fairy Liquid, and will therefore never wash up.
Now I’m no clean freak, I don’t spend my free time scrubbing at the toothbrush holder into the early hours chanting “must be clean, must be clean”, but I quite like living in a flat/ house that is not at risk from infestations, and does not smell like a dustbin. It seems that yet again I’ve struck unlucky when it comes to the washing-up question. Who says that incest and menstruation are the last taboos (I read it somewhere)? If you ask me, the thing that nobody wants to talk about is whose turn it is to do the washing up.
As I stare at the piles of plates, pans, dishcloths and egg cups, I cast my mind back to the other beautiful residences I have…er…resided in, and wonder what is the only thing each place had in common. Apart from squalor and extortionate rents, the washing up ‘aversion’ is the key factor.
At my Mum’s, it was always me who bitched about having to wash up, pulling my best Kevin-the-teenager face and moaning that I didn’t like getting my hands wet. Never did I guess that years later I would become obsessed to the point of schizophrenic about dirty dishes. I can cope with mess. You know, the odd magazine here and there, a few shoes flung about etc. etc. But mess is quite a different thing from dirt. I cringe when I come in from work and have to play ‘spot the spillage’ on my kitchen floor as my shoes stick rigidly to it. I am close to tears as I spend half an hour looking for a certain knife only to find it underneath a pile of burnt baking tins, charcoaled pans and lard-covered cutlery. Needless to say the afore-mentioned knife will be covered in a non-distinguishable substance which will take me a further half-hour to scrub off.
I’ve lived in worse places, though. I doubt if anything could compete with Year 3 of university life when I shared a house with 6 members of a rugby team and a hockey player. I would wake to find that they had bought the entire crockery department at Habitat…. and cooked chips with all of it, leaving it strewn about the kitchen, which looked like the remnants of a Greek wedding crossed with a Crimewatch reconstruction. But that was not all.
If any of you have lived with sporting uni types, you may be aware of their penchant for ‘acquiring’ things after a night up the uni bar kissing each others’ testes (bizarre initiation ceremony) and drinking dodgy cocktails, mainly composed of whisky, vodka, something green and the team captain’s pubic hair (I kid you not). By ‘acquiring’ things, I mean the art of bringing home road signs, park benches, hookers (not the rugby variety), and even a dog once. To top things off, most of them were unbelievable exhibitionists, constantly walking around with very little on, having sex with girls in the kitchen! Loudly! At 2.30 in the afternoon! With people watching! Another favourite activity of one of them (you know who you are) was to invite any female friends I had round for a cup of vodka, sorry tea, for a ‘shag in the shower’. He was deadly serious! Some of them even considered it! It was an exhilarating experience to say the very least but 4 months was all I could stand so I moved in with friends where we had a washing up rota that actually worked!
My final student house was a nightmare for washing up and once we found new life forms growing on a plate that we had previously thought was patterned. I could go on all week about the flatshare ‘mares’ I’ve experienced but I reckon I’ll leave that for some other time.
And as for the washing up? Well, I could try the old tradition of putting it in the offenders’ beds, but that tends to escalate into violence. I could maybe fling each dish out of the window until someone washes them, but some of them belong to me. Maybe I’ll just give in and do their washing up myself… I DON’T think so, do you? I think I’ll just sit down and have a fag and chill as I wait for the dishes to actually become so infested with fungus that they turn on the taps and wash themselves. If only…