Monthly Archives:

November 2021


SWB on zen and the art of a tidy house

Once, I had to endure a conversation with a colleague about the virtues of her new steam mop. Almost glowing she was, on the topic of her sparkling kitchen tiles. ‘I can’t wait to go home and get at it again!’ said she. I hoped fervently, that never in my future would I be a person who got their kicks from cleaning.  

But what is life, if not full of surprises? Last week, when I found abrush attachment for the hoover which enabled me to reach those pesky spaces between the bannisters, I felt something approaching joy. ‘Is this what happens when you turn 42?’ I pondered mournfully.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t LIKE cleaning, and especially not without my trusty marigolds, lest I chip my acrylic nails, but I like living in squalor even less. And I have to admit something else here, which I hate very much, but it seems that the Mothership is right. Again.  She’ll be insufferable to listen to when she reads this, but there we are. She counselled against getting pets and she had a point. Animals are a pain in the arse, not least because they’ve augmented my cleaning three-fold. That’s likely a modest estimate; it’s probably ten-fold. Now, I’ve to take the sticky roller duvets and clothes before they even hit the washing machine, which is rarely off. I’m never done brushing and hoovering and mopping. And all this before I get to washing out tins of dog and cat food and scraping hardened foods off their bowls. 

We’ve had to invest in carpet cleaning services and last week, finally admitted defeat and chucked a rug in the bin. You know me and my hatred of waste, so I found this very traumatic. At least it was a few years old, but I’m not going to lie to you, it hurt. 

 I know what you’re thinking, because I can hear the Mothership’s voice in my ear. ‘Don’t let the animals have the run of the house! Turf them off the beds!’ But this is coming from a woman who used to get up at three or four am, when our erstwhile cat Snowball woke up and wanted out. He would wake her every night and then take his time, stopping to lick his paws at the top of the stairs and she had to chivvy him along. However, he was, she claims to this day, an exceptional cat. 

We’re suckers for pets, in our family, and also for letting our children do whatever they like, hence the coffee table, and, let’s face it, much of the floor, is strewn with pieces of card and paper and other ephemera that they’ve snipped up and left at their backsides. (The Mothership is in my ear again.) 

And this, everyone, is just the cleaning, before I even touch on my nemesis which is endless piles of stuff, and clutter. This is why, when I caught a snippet on Frank’s Phone-In this week, when he was on with Lisa from @Orderinthehouseni, I felt that frisson of excitement again. Lisa and Claire will come to your house, armed to the oxters with storage solutions and fresh ideas, and they help you sort your shit out. What also makes me do little jumps with glee is that they’re also very knowledgeable about where to pass on your stuff in an effort to keep it in circulation and out of landfill.  The last two years have seen our homes become our workplaces, our social hubs as well as our havens, and it’s taken its toll. Some folk on furlough were able to tidy and sort and organise, but with work and home schooling I wasn’t one of them and my shambles of a house bears testimony to this. I need help. I think I need Claire and Lisa. Or a miracle.



SWB gets her COP26 on

Do you know what has me stressed out no end? Climate change, obviously, and the doom mongers who tell us that, even if we buy electric cars and rely on wind turbines we’re still only clinging to the precipice of disaster with our fingertips.


It’s hard to fathom that Cop 26 is happening in Scotland, next week, and Johnston is making sweeping, grandiose statements when he’s content to ignore tons of untreated sewage to flood our waterways, and send tons of plastic to Malaysia to be ‘recycled’, when in fact it’s just dumped on unsuspecting villagers who are subjected to toxic fumes while the remnants of our ready meal containers are burnt in a field beside them.


But what to do, when Johnson goes round telling school children that recycling isn’t the answer? (Well obviously it isn’t, when he’s just sending it overseas where it’s just not our problem anymore.)


The message of Cop 26 is that we must collectively make radical changes to our lives, but how exactly that is supposed to happen, given the timeframe which should have been implement thirty years ago, is difficult to compute.


Much of our inability to change is simply through ignorance. Take a recent purchase by me as an example. After freezing our arses off in the garden during the first lockdown, I nipped up to Hillmount to buy a fire pit.  It was in the trolley when I clapped eyes on a gas burner and bought that instead, so I didn’t have to tend a fire while I served chilled Sauvignon which comes from, you’ve guessed it, the vineyards on New Zealand’s South Island. Did it enter my head that burning gas in my back yard was perhaps a big ‘no no’, especially for one who’s so keen on eco issues? Of course it didn’t; I just thought it would be nice to chat to my friends in peace without waving smoke out of my eyes.


One of the major obstacles in our inability to make changes isn’t through laziness or a disbelief that the planet’s in trouble, it’s because we just don’t think, and we don’t often see it modelled to us.


Take local schools and businesses for example. Most homeowners will recycle, sorting their rubbish into bins. But trot into shops or cafés and you’ll see cardboard cups and cans and food waste all chucked in together where, thus contaminated, it will be shipped off to landfill. Case in point, I hoked a few cans out of a bin in a café on the Ormeau on Friday. I asked a barista first and he was very nice about it. ‘Knock yourself out,’ he said, kindly handing me fairy liquid and a towel to wash and dry my hands when I was finished. ‘Dunno why they don’t do that here,’ he said. ‘I do it at home, but not in the café.’ This makes no sense to me at all. Why aren’t there facilities provided? Isn’t this is a perfect example of individuals being asked to do one thing and businesses another?


On to food waste. Not being a scientist, I didn’t realise that when food breaks down it produces methane, which is why it should be kept separately to make compost.  Now that I know this, it’s cracking me up when I see food scraps shoved in with everything else.  School canteens often rely heavily on plastic cutlery and polystyrene containers. Pupils and teachers alike STILL use these without a second thought, then chuck them into a bin-liner along with leftover food. Every. Single. Day.


Surely there are  environmental experts who could interject and show businesses and schools how they could do this better; perhaps with a small financial incentive to do so. It would, I imagine, be easier to tackle these problems at source than try to strain our oceans of detritus after.


So in short, despite Boris making a total bollocks of himself and telling children that recycling isn’t the answer, we need to start small, work out what will help and try to implement it.  In short, nobody’s perfect- like me and my gas burner. Being a bit more mindful is at least the start, but it’s hard when global conglomerates are still shunting all the responsibility on to the individual and doing what they want. There has been no central lead on recycling from our government. Ever. They may parrot Greta Thunberg to sound good- but that’s all it is, meaningless rhetoric until they legislate for companies to produce less packaging and make it easier for people to recycle.