I HAVE discovered a field of scientific enquiry that has provided a whole new range of natural laws.
The first law is that no matter how carefully you wash up, no matter whether you drain the water through a sieve, or x-ray it, there will always be a teaspoon lurking at the bottom when you tip the water away.
This is true even when you never washed up any teaspoons.
The second law is that the only time it will not be a teaspoon is when there’s a drought and you hurl the washing up water over the plants in the rockery.
Then it’ll be a plate.
The third law is that no matter how you fence off the washing up area; no matter how you organise it and what security measures you take, someone will sidle up and drop a random object in your washing up water.
Wars have started over less.
I do the washing up in our house. I am very good at it. I stack everything neatly on the draining board (why they call it that I’ll never understand. They’re not draining, they’re waiting!) and I work my way through it with all the exactitude of a nuclear scientist.
I hum while I work. This is my domain. For 15 tranquil minutes — 20 if we’ve had a roast — I am lord of all I survey. Even the teaspoons. Anyone slips a cup into my washing up water – they’re dead.
Why is that? I’m more possessive about the washing up than I am about the car. I don’t mind all the grungy bits that lodge in the little sieve thing that covers the plughole. I don’t mind the chip pan or the burned custard, but foreign fingers over my washing up bowl are likely to find themselves floating there independent of the hand they belonged to.
Maybe it’s like having the television remote. It’s the sense of control. The sub-conscious desire to be in charge.
And before I hear you thinking: “How sad is that!” let me ask: what about you?
You see… the problem is bigger than we realised.
Sometimes well-meaning visitors get there before me. We finish dinner and because I seated them (stupidly) nearest the kitchen the interfering busybodies are out there with their sleeves rolled up before I can say bubbles.
And all I can do is develop indigestion while they leave the glasses till last, and balance the gravy boat on top of the mixing bowl.
That’s another problem. If we have visitors we’ve probably brought out the best china. Only I am allowed to wash up the best china. That way, if I break it, I have only myself to blame. I can forgive myself. I mean, accidents happen, especially if you balance the gravy boat on the mixing bowl.
If a visitor breaks it I’m going to kill them.
All this brings me to the fourth natural law. It states that this is a syndrome suffered only by men.
Women don’t care if they have control of the washing up. They have control of everything else. Men care because it’s all they’ve got left.
The washing up and the goldfish. And I’m not sure about the goldfish.
Come to think of it I’m not sure about the washing up, either.
Even the teaspoons ignore me.