Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Pressing Concerns: Ironing Isn't Drudge Work, but Satisfyingly Cathartic, Writes Annalisa Barbieri

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Pressing Concerns: Ironing Isn't Drudge Work, but Satisfyingly Cathartic, Writes Annalisa Barbieri

Article excerpt

Some years ago, in between houses, my sister moved back into the family nest for a bit. With her came lots of boxes that contained all manner of interesting things she had acquired since she had left "home". In one was an object that caused me much mirth: a huge steam generator iron. That is to say, not any old steam iron, but one that had a separate water tank and was capable of delivering the same amount of steam as a GWR locomotive. I teased her relentlessly about this through clouds of vapourised water. "Only you," I guffawed, "could have an industrial steam iron." I had not, then, ironed for about ten years, and was rather proud of this fact. How carefree and metropolitan I was, always too busy drinking Martinis and hopping from taxi to taxi to think about anything as pedestrian and domesticated as ironing.

You and I know this is going to result in my volte-face. When I had stopped gallivanting around the globe and actually settled down, with proper bedlinen I cared about, I, too, wanted a steam iron so brutal that creases would melt under it. So I bought one. I must also point out that, under intense deadlines, I iron where Sylvia Plath baked. (Actually, I also bake, which is why everyone within a hundred-yard radius of my house is overweight.) My partner would come home, peruse the ironed dishcloths, raise an eyebrow and say: "Deadline?"

Ironing is a much-underrated pastime. It has many benefits. With a good steam iron, you can clear your sinuses and your pores. …

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