The Hideous Horrors of Home Hygiene

Why can’t we just eat out of a trough?

Oh! How I hate to wash up in the morning,
Oh how I hate to wash up at all!
But the unkindest cut to date’s,
When I run out of cups and plates,
You’ve gotta wash up!
You’ve gotta wash up!
You’ve gotta wash up this morning!
You’ve gotta wash up!
You’ve gotta wash up!
You’ve gotta wash up today!

I composed this charming ditty some years ago when once again faced with a gigantic heap of cutlery and crockery piled up on my kitchen sink. It is based (of course) on Irving Berlin’s Oh how I hate to wake up in the Morning which itself is based on the traditional reveille of the US Army.

(Irving Berlin, there’s an interesting fellow. Coming from a poor and Jewish background (in a time when being Jewish was a major social disadvantage) he managed to create a career as America’s best loved songsmith. He fell in love with a non-Jewish girl whose wealthy father was scandalised at the thought of her marrying not just a Jew, but a working class Jew, and sent her off on a round the world cruise in the hopes she’d forget about him. Irving kept in touch with her via letter for the whole journey and wrote Always one of his biggest hits for her. They got married almost immediately on her return. Irving was pretty much persona-non-gratia with his in-laws until the stock market crash of 1929 when his wife’s father lost huge sums of money and found himself heavily in debt. Irving was still pulling in cash hand over fist despite the economic collapse (or perhaps because of it – it can be argued that the worse things get the more people need songs) and paid off all his debts, refusing to hear a thing about being payed back. From that point on he was a welcome member of the family. Or at least that’s the story I heard. But I digress.)

The reason I detail this rather awful parody of an American classic is that, once again, I find myself confronted with a sink piled high with used plates. This is because (as the song suggests) I hate doing the washing up. I hate spending time on a menial and slightly disgusting chore when I could be doing other far more interesting things. Which means that I tend to use every bit of crockery and cutlery I have (eating my dinner off saucers is by no means unheard of) until I completely run out and have no choice but to buckle down and do it.

Now yes, I could get a dishwasher, but frankly I’ve never liked them. They’re big, noisy, use criminal amounts of water and (in my admittedly limited experience) don’t do a terribly good job anyway. You have to wash down the plates and cups and things before putting them in, and then have to finish the job by manually scrubbing off tough stains and dried food bits that the machine missed. This is frankly not very efficient, and I won’t have a bar of it.

So I am once again doomed to spending the next forty minutes or so with my hands submerged in soapy and increasingly filthy water, trying to find drying space for the huge piles of cups, knives, forks and plates that have accumulated in my kitchen for the last week. And once again I will promise to myself to do the washing up on a nightly basis. And once again I shall immediately break that promise and start the whole process over again.

I’m gonna need a bigger sink.

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