Saturday, 30 November 2013

Ironing in the Great Laundry of Life

I was married to my first husband for nearly twenty years and have been with my second for coming up to a decade. There are not many similarities between the two men but they did both choose careers that required them to wear suits. For me, that has meant nearly thirty years of ironing shirts . 

I actually quite like ironing. Don't get me wrong, there's any number of things I'd rather be doing - drinking wine, reading a good book..... - but for a chore that needs to be done, there is a certain amount of pleasure involved. One pleasure these days as I set to work on my current husband's crumpled cotton is seeing the label  that proudly states '2inches longer'. I know it refers to sleeve length (my husband is a tall, long limbed gentleman) but I can't help feeling a bit smug and mildly amused in the knowledge that this applies equally to other body parts. It is good to be reminded of the husband 'upgrade'.

The pleasure I get from ironing, and indeed any task that requires an appliance, is influenced greatly by the quality and design of the equipment used.

I bought a new iron in 2008. 

The purchase wasn't something I had planned but became a necessity following an ironing board repositioning manoeuvre that went badly wrong. My precariously balanced appliance was flung to the ground, smashing rather spectacularly. I persevered and ironed a couple more shirts regardless of the exposed inside iron parts that no housewife should have to see until I concluded that it was probably all a bit dangerous. Having decided that a new iron was a better bet than a repair job with insulating tape, I headed off on an emergency  shopping mission.

 My product selection was based entirely on price rather than features, being seduced by the big red letters announcing HALF PRICE. I really had no idea exactly what I had purchased until I got home and unpacked it. It looked like an ordinary iron until you plugged it in when suddenly the whole thing lit up. It was a 'digital colour select iron' which meant that instead of having a nice sensible dial  to choose the operating temperature, you had a little bippy button that toggled up through all your usual heat settings as the water tank lit up in pretty rainbow shades. There was a certain degree of flashing and beeping that occured during the process which I failed to fathom the purpose of  but it was all good. As luck would have it, the cotton setting which is my temperature of choice as a general rule just happened to light up with one of my favoured wavelengths of the visible spectrum - purple.

I had a panic moment as I was ploughing my way through the pile of waiting shirts. As I was ironing, the shirts were getting really wet. Now my old iron used to dribble a bit when it wasn't quite up to temperature but nothing like this. I was pressing buttons, turning the iron upside down, shaking it...but I couldn't work out where all this water was coming from. I was starting to think I must have purchased a faulty one and would need to take it back to the shop (which was a bit embarrassing because my baby girl had chewed a big soggy hole into the cardboard packaging while I was trying to make sense of the instructions). What I hadn't realised at this point (but thankfully did realise before I became 'angry consumer demanding full refund') was that whilst I was shopping, the old iron carelessly left on the ironing board had emptied a nearly full tank of water onto the absorbent material of the ironing board cover. It was absolutely saturated and hence the source of sogginess. That sorted, new iron and I began to forge a happy working relationship.

That relationship was  doomed to failure. The 'bippy button' that toggled through the heat settings was situated inconveniently on the handle so I would inadvertantly toggle it with the palm of my hand as I ironed. This became a major problem when the light that elevated this appliance from 'iron' to 'digital colour select iron' stopped working. Toggling to the wrong setting without the colour change to alert me was a huge annoyance. I would only become aware that it was too hot when I scorched the fabric (too late) or too cool when the creases laughed out loud at my vain attempts to flatten them (much time wasted). I struggled on regardless through the years until such a time that I became convinced that the thermostat mechanism must have given up. The quality of my ironing had deteriorated to the  point that I might as well not have bothered at all.

That all changed with another half price offer. A sexy black iron with no-nonsense, straightforward controls. It was everything I wanted  from an appliance - love at first sight.

I bought it.

My ironing experience was transformed. Gliding effortlessly over even the most crumpled of garments with the gentle hiss of steam, my lovely new iron delivered crisp, crease free results. The clothes rail began to fill with perfectly pressed shirts. 

An upgraded husband and now an upgraded iron. The three of us are still living our happily ever after in the great laundry of life.

This blog post is my  entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.

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