The Way We Were by Colin Ella - Part 38

Colin Ella - Part 38 - Giving Everything a Bottoming
Colin Ella - Part 38 - Giving Everything a Bottoming

These days lots of ladies have a full time job and at home they are assisted by a wide range of gadgetry designed to perform many tasks.

Perhaps we are not that far away from telling the robot to get on with the dusting.

My goodness me, time was when the spring cleaning was a not to be missed ritual and it was also a time for the menfolk to keep well out of the way. In fact it was something of a time of misery for the males as they wandered from room to room seeking a bit of peace.

Windows flew open and turbanned women with forearms like ostrich legs shook out sheets, blankets and pillow cases; thumped pillows and cushions vigorously, walloped carpets and rugs unmercifully, and the scrubbing brush must have wondered if it could survive the ordeal it was put through.

Actually my own little part in these annual proceedings was to hang the carpets over the washing line and give them the pasting of the lives with the copper stick, thrashing away until not a wisp of dust flew out. No nook or cranny in the house was safe from this sprucing up onslaught, and the offensive swept on from back to front and top to bottom. Chimneys were swept, brass fenders and fire irons polished, mirrors and ornaments washed and floors scrubbed. Mattresses were put out for an airing; wardrobes were dragged away from walls and covered in dust sheets; walls and ceilings were degrimed in preparation for re-papering. Landings and staircases were always difficult to decorate but they were frequently freshened up.

In those days the ladies had no modern appliances or easy clean agents either and it was a matter of sheer brawn and very hard work.

Fireplaces were black leaded; furniture washed in vinegar and water and polished with beeswax; blankets were pushed in the dolly tub followed by more bedding items and heavy curtains. All the crockery was washed, brasses burnished and all the cutlery was Brassoed and polished.

And now, all these many years later, I wonder just why all that springtime madness was so very necessary or was it just some kind of a traditional ritual. The passing of time has changed it all. Our ladies do still like to ‘bottom’ their cleaning, but for many of them now, perhaps just hearing about their grandmother’s spring cleaning crusade must bring a a wry smile to their faces.

Next week in Part 39 - A Bit of Good Gravy.