I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Divided labour

Which spouse/partner works harder? Rephrasing, which domestic chore brings the greatest benefit? Easy. Who cares about dusty carpets, grimy baths or sweated sheets if starvation  threatens?

The Robinsons eat two meals a day and I make my own brunch. Even so, the evening meal – VR’s territory - represents 60% of regular household work, consisting of daily drudgery, planning, invention, skill, awareness of what will/won't poison, etc.

My response? All washing up The car, computers and the electricals Choosing, purchasing and serving booze             • Processing garbage  Some gardening (we have a gardener) Organising external leisure and holidays Going online with the bank Stoking the washing machine Most ad hoc DIY Devising utility strategies  Entering the loft  Taking a neutral view of the weather.

However, much of this is intermittent and rarely absorbs the remaining 40% of necessary work.

Also, VR often bakes cakes, hangs out washing (cannot be shared for ideological reasons), does some gardening and converts my newly bought, diminishing-waistline trousers from belt to braces.

Hoovering, floor mopping, etc, are done by professionals.

VR and I share making the bed, grocery shopping, our diet regime (now into its second year), watering the garden, answering the phone (a growing chore), choosing the acquisition of DVDs and CDs. Unaccounted-for work… disappears. 

A real shorty - in full:

On a huge hill,
Cragged and steep, Truth stands; and hee that will
Reach her, about must and about it goe;
And what the hill’s suddenness resists, winne so.

Reasons why. Access to truth is difficult, admirably conveyed by a poem-long metaphor. The way is indirect (“about must and about it”), antique syntax (“hee that will reach”) powers the simplicity, while “hill’s suddenness” is a phrase for all time.



  1. Been up to the loft recently? How's the boarding out fairing?

  2. I'd give the wife 75% for handling the poisons. Maybe 80.

  3. Sir Hugh: Utterly sturdy - like its fabricator.

    MikeM: I believe she is, by now, habituated.

  4. A little flattery to keep her motives aligned with yours.

  5. I have this terrible vision of you stuck in the loft for ever as the responsibility for exiting the loft has clearly not been allocated.

  6. I haven't worked out any percentages but as a fellow doer of "all washing up" I would say this adds up to something quite interesting.
    The Donne poem makes the reader ponder about Truth standing there not difficult in itself, but incredibly difficult to reach.

  7. Blonde Two: I wonder if you could get in touch with the fire brigade for just that reason. Say I'm a cat, an expensive cat.

    Lucas: I wonder how long it took JD to write this. And why something so short. Perhaps to go inside a Christmas card. I jest, of course.

  8. I remember a shared house in student days (not one I lived in, too organised) where cooking was on a rota and who cooked washed up their own, since knowing someone else would do the washing up tempts people to be sloppy and profligate with making it. It's true, and I maintain that the X-cooks-Y-washes-up arrangement (nothing to do with chromosomes) is generally unfairly skewed in X's favour, since cooking is more fun anyway.

    We also have an idealogical schism, about wiping up, which I see as an unhygienic abomination (I am an obsessive rinser) while Tom finds unwiped and unput-away crocks in the drainer an affront to his sense of order. So we seem to have settled into a system where I mostly cook and wash up, but leave the stuff to drain, and he comes along later, wipes its bottoms and puts it away. If he cooks he mostly washes up, which he is remarkably efficient about doing as he goes along.

    We were considerably more reconstructed about such things from a gender point of view at first, since coming here and with the way we live the patterns have changed and we've fallen into more stereotypical dependencies. I think it evens out OK.

    Buying treats (booze, cds etc) is not work.

    The Donne's a good one; I like 'about must and about it goe' with all that mishmash of adverbs and pronoun and auxiliary very much.

  9. Lucy: From time to time, just like Joe, you come up with assertions that could have arrived straight frm Uranus. With him they centred on gardening and (of course) cooking; with you I get this Uranien apophthegm: "since cooking is more fun anyway". You must believe me - that is not a given. Washing-up is a controlled human endeavour where the aims are straightforward and the techniques are amenable to empirical improvement. Cooking is full of vagueness (not least to do with quantities) and unjustified improvisations.

    Recognising this in VR I have been careful not to take advantage of it. Washing-up is not an exact swap of responsibilities (cooking absorbs much more time) but it will do. But there really can be no sharing. For over twenty years I have concentrated on washing-up (as a practice entire in itself - not an adjunct to cooking) and I have evolved sequences and methods that are powerful and (in other's eyes) stultifyingly logical. VR has recognised this and has left me more on less on my own.

    Just recently she has decided to demonstrate what she believes to be her understanding of washing-up (pathetic in the extreme) and repositions the cutlery draining box through 180 deg. I re-position it without comment. Professional Bleeder, the elder daughter, noticed this on her last visit and sought to stir up dissension. But as a Black Belt (twelfth dan) in washing-up, I remain completely composed.

    Needless to say I would never claim that washing-up is more fun than anything. It is there to be done and has existential implications. Nobody here at Chez Robinson need know anything about the philosophical side; my life over the sink is self-contained and remote.

  10. Last comment thrice as entertaining as original post.

  11. MikeM: You sound as if you feel short-changed.

  12. A poorly written comment by me, a brilliant one by you. Straight?

  13. MikeM: Now you've gone too far in the self-abasement business.

    Let me tell you a secret. Blogging is on the way out - it demands literacy (on the part of the bloggers and the commenters) and that's too much for today's tweet brigade. Check this fact with other bloggers.

    One result is that blog commenters are rapidly becoming more important than bloggers - hen's teeth in fact. They're outnumbered by the bloggers who are reduced to voices crying in the wilderness. Thus I cannot afford to offend you, you could threaten to go elsewhere.

    So, know your strength. Self-abasement isn't the aim; how about world domination? I foresee the time when you'll be entitled to demand payment.