Household Related Topics

Spring cleaning — my Not Good Housekeeping guide

This is the time for spring cleaning. You can’t escape it. Spring cleaning tips here, spring cleaning tips there. I even noted that the newspaper that doesn’t like women to get out too much but actually isn’t the Daily Mail in this instance (you always fall for it — of course it is, you big chump!) says you should arm yourself as follows: “Before you start, gather your cleaning materials in a bucket so they’re easy to transport. You need rubber gloves, microfibre and other cleaning cloths, a feather duster, multi-surface cleaner, floor cleaner, a pumice stone, clear vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, bleach, paper towels, a lint roller, black bin bags, a toothbrush and a pair of old socks (for dusting blinds), a mop and a vacuum cleaner.”

There is no mention of where you might pause to Have. A. Life. Between the pumice stone and clear vinegar, perhaps? But please don’t tarry because there’s bicarbonate of soda coming up. Also old socks for dusting blinds.

woman with cleaning stuff

Our launch campaign? “Just Bin It”

If none of the above appeals, and you’ve yet to gather your materials in a bucket so they are easy to transport — as can happen: you look down and, nope, no bucket of gathered materials — then I wonder if I might guide you towards Not Good Housekeeping, my new magazine dedicated to not quite keeping on top of housework and watching Line of Duty instead (Roz, that stinky arm had to go).

Or to put it another way, it’s for anyone who, as the journalist Katharine Whitehorn once asked, in her seminal Observer column on slovenliness, has “ever taken anything out of the dirty-clothes basket because it had become, relatively, the cleaner thing”. Top woman, Whitehorn, and no mistake, but she did fail to add that if you retrieve something from the dirty-clothes basket and swing it round your head quite vigorously for a minute, say, it’s as good as clean. Seriously. (Not Good Housekeeping: we like to go the extra mile.)

Our first issue, available now from news stands, comes with a cover mount of assorted electrical leads whose specific function has been lost in the mists of time but which you will wish to keep in a drawer for the next 72 years “just in case”. (Next month it’s those elastic bands that you keep from the spring onions and never re-deploy, but might one day.)

Not Good Housekeeping is packed with useful tips, including: ten ways to avoid using the griddle pan so you don’t have to wash it up; how to defrost the freezer with dynamite (it may take the house with it, said our panel of experts, but at least you can cross that job off the list and sleep nights, albeit in a temporary hostel); how to call a tradesperson who won’t turn up; the best gadget to try once and never again; how to call a different tradesperson who also won’t turn up and may be the same as the first, but how would you know?

Not Good Housekeeping also features long-form essays investigating major issues such as: can anyone be a tradesperson who doesn’t turn up or does it take special training? And we have our fair share of heartbreaking real-life first-person exclusives. This month it’s Karen, from Brighton, who talks candidly about her losing battle with limescale. “I thought I’d got it beat, but it’s back again,” she tells us, bravely. “The kettle, the showerheads, the taps . . . and I just don’t know if I have any fight left.”

Plus, Not Good Housekeeping is a campaigning publication and our launch campaign? “Just Bin It.” What should I do with this odd sock? Just Bin It. What should I do with this blackened grill pan? Just Bin It. What should I do with these elastic bands from the spring onions? Just . . . best keep those since you might need them one day.

(Next month: exercises to strengthen your lower body so you can quickly hide the griddle pan in your pants.)

WTF is it with these acronyms? 
Have you heard of the latest text-speak acronym? Well, the latest to me that is, and I’m usually a good two years behind, so I will rephrase: Have you heard the latest two-year-old — could be three years, thinking about it — acronym? It is IRL.

It stands for “In Real Life” and is used to distinguish between the internet world and the world that is not the internet world. You might say, for example, “I have a new friend IRL” to differentiate that friend from a Facebook one. Or “I bought some clothes IRL” should you wish it to be known you went to an actual shop — I know, how quaint! — and so on.

But what I’m wondering is: who gets to coin these acronyms and also are they in fact acronyms? Shouldn’t you be able to say an acronym, as with Nato or Awol? But who could say WTF even if they wished to? Or IRL, even though you could? So what are they, if not acronyms? Answers please.

Next, who gets to coin them? Unless there is a factory that produces them — I am picturing it somewhere near Staines — it feels like a young person’s game, which just isn’t fair when you think about it. Young people have youth. Young people have great skin. Why should they get to play with the language too?

So let’s fight back. If they can have OMG, why can’t we have HTB? If they can have ROLF, why can’t we have PMLWIWJ? And if they can have CHILLAX — what’s that? a conflation? — why can’t we have GTTTWO? You with me on this? Any ideas of your own?

(HTB: Heavens To Betsy. PMLWIWJ: Peed Myself Laughing, Wish I Was Joking. GTTTWO: Good To Take The Weight Off. Also, don’t forget JBI: Just Bin It! Which can also be a phrase: JBIFFS!)