Such is the nature of real life that, in the week before the wedding, when according to everything I have read other brides are getting stressed about things they haven’t yet managed to do and jaunting off on expensive beauty treatments to make themselves thinner, prettier or smoother, I have plenty of time, and am using it to cover my hands in chemicals – no, not in labs this time: I’ve been cleaning the house. So has the Fiance, but he was working since 5am this morning, and as a consequence I have done a bit more of it than he has.
I’ve also done the garden – cut the grass, put down weedkiller and repotted all the little fruit trees my mum brought us. The cat watched unoimpressedly as I polished and shined everything within site: the fridge, the oven, all the tiles on the back wall… even her chat flap. Which, by the way, was filthy. I discovered cat prints as far apart as on top of the freezer and on top of the scanner in the living room. She was definitely a guilty party.
And apparently it isn’t just my OCD at fault here: one thing I have heard about, is lots of women cleaning before their wedding days or going on holiday. Why? Is this some kind of female cleaning gene?
Historically, in this country, when a woman married she would immediately move to her husband’s house. This is why lots of couples try to have the night before the wedding apart – because traditionally for the bride it would be her last night under her parents’ roof, and for that reason very special and emotive. Her new husband would carry her across the threshold – and probably straight up to her new bedroom. Whether he had lived with parents or alone before, someone else would have done the cleaning (maybe his mother or a housekeeper): the new house would be cleaned thoroughly and made as fresh and inviting as possible for the new bride to comne home to.
And it seems as if women still seek this, even if they, like me, are already well established living with their partner. That ‘coming home to a clean house’ feeling is mimetic of new beginnings, fresh starts, and the exciting potential of the future – whereas a dirty house is hangover from the past.
And not just this: cleaning can be cathartic too: my mum used to dust skirting boards as a displacement activity when she had an essay to do. Cleaning, like grooming, is a simple, time-consuming physical activity, a form of preparation, readying oneself for the time when your hair and nails are pefect and your house is shining and new. We don’t just clean the house for guests: we clean four ourselves and our own cleanliness of mind.
And because, in this respect, I am a real girl, here are some pictures of my pretty clean kitchen.
Just be grateful I haven’t gone round photographing the entire house!