Scrubs Up Well

Eight o’ clock on Saturday night and I’m in my PJs; crimson-nosed, wheezing, and enveloped by a faintly shimmering haze of garlic from the medicinal chicken soup I’ve just poured into myself.

Fast forward 18 hours to Sunday afternoon and I’m still in jammies, still hacking away, probably still exuding garlic from my every fevered pore, and still starting this post. So sue me. Dad’s Army came on, then Blackadder, then Have I Got A Bit More News For You (has Saturday night TV always been this good?); then there was an unscheduled visit from an extravagantly well-meaning and ever-so-slightly tipsy friend, and then a scheduled-but-forgotten-about visit from a homeless Australian gap year student. This is the glamorous life I lead. I love it. Cough cough.

My guests having departed (for church and Walkabout respectively), I’m settled at the table with a cup of lemony analgesic of a hue not commonly found in nature. The antique tumble dryer is pumping healthsome, warming steam into the kitchen, and the Christmas Golden Greats in the living room are good-naturedly battling it out with Gardeners’ Question Time from the kitchenette. Christmas presents are largely taken care of and my new festive lights are twinkling. Blogging is go.

There are a few things I considered writing about in recent weeks but ultimately decided against. Let’s see.

There was the second installment in the disastrous Internet Dating Saga, which I didn’t write about not only because I promised I wouldn’t but because the person in question behaved so bizarrely that I wouldn’t have put it past them to have found my blog and (even after all the trauma, awkwardness, and long, accusatory and entirely demented text messages they plagued me with for days when our non-existent relationship continued not to exist) I didn’t want to risk hurting their feelings.

Then there was a spottette of extra-internet dating, with a real person out of real life, which didn’t so much end as fizzle out after two dates when one party was involved in a fairly serious accident which put an end to any latent chemistry, but by this point it was unclear (I’m pretty sure to both parties) as to whether said passion had been actual chemistry or merely the result of a few too many fruity cocktails at the fruity party where we met; and by this stage we were getting on really rather well in a chummy kind of way anyway and still haven’t managed to have any kind of constructive conversation on the subject despite the fact that this all wound up about five months ago. My question being: is there a danger that we might, technically, be still going out?

Then there’s the new job, which I hesitate to write about because I’m still there, still enjoy the stalking work, and worry that if I go into any kind of detail about my favourite stalkées subjects (an act which any post about my work, to which I am extraordinarily dedicated, would necessarily entail), they might get to hear of it through Googling themselves and this, as I’m sure my colleagues would agree, would not altogether Reflect Well on my company. So no Captain Joe for you, dear readers.

I covered the move to Poshville in recent posts, but have thus far neglected to break the news of the disappearance of D for Dalrymple favourite Charlie The Cat, who has been missing, presumed frozen solid, for nearly a month. In my lighter moments, I still hold out hope that come the springtime, a pampered ginger nose will sniff the air anew from beneath the soft-top sports car outside no. 58, but recent weather conditions are making this eventuality increasingly unlikely. Sad news for Charlie fans everywhere.

I think we’re up to speed on all the things I could have blogged about but didn’t. So, on to the pressing issue of the day: the thing I am actually going to blog about. Brace yourselves. It’s a subject extremely close to my heart, and one to which I’ve been meaning to devote a post for some time. You won’t be surprised to learn it’s a controversial issue – more so than dating, than Lady Gaga, even than Microwave Cookery For One. I talked it over with my brother before deciding to go ahead with it. He wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea, but agreed that I owe it to myself to try and get my feelings on the subject into words.

I’m talking, of course, about washing up.

D for Dalrymple was pleased and gratified to come across this notice in a New Zealand hostel earlier in the year.

Though much encouraged by the existence of this sign, I was shocked by its apparent endorsement of a frankly irresponsible moral relativism when it comes to the issue of the correct way to wash up. Of course, there is only one right way. My way.

1. A Good Cook Washes Up As They Go Along

These words, handed down to me by my mother, who heard them from her mother and so on all the way back to when Scotland first got running water, are more comforting to me than cups of tea, familiar songs, and the baby Jesus. Their message – that a small amount of dirty work at the time saves a huge amount of stress later on – is quite literally at the core of my belief system. Cooking, when it comes down to it, is just the application of heat to food, and maybe a bit of chopping. Real culinary expertise lies in being able to cook an entire roast dinner using just two oven trays and a single pan, by judicious use of washing up. Plus, ‘doing the cooking’ (often sighed over, as if it were an arduous or unenjoyable activity) should never be used as justification for not lifting a finger when it comes to clearing up the mess. Any fool can smear food over a pan and burn it on. Real culinary mettle is proved by the wielding of steel wire.

2. Scrape / rinse plates first

Glaringly obvious, you might think, but so many people are apparently happy to wash their dishes in a fetid mixture of food chunks and inadequately warm water. For those fortunate enough to have two sinks, a designated rinsing sink can save plates from this soupy fate, but if like me you are confined to a single sink, I find a ‘showering’ system works well.

3. a) Washing-up bowls are for weirdos

They take up space in your sink and collect dirt around the waterline in a way that a sink never will. Unknown horrors lurk in their depths. They’re difficult to empty without danger of drowning or, at the very least, dramatic self-baptism. You can never remember which is the one you used for washing up and which is the one for the party punch. Cutlery falls down the side of the bowl and remains hidden, trapped betwixt plastic and sink, until the washing-up exercise is over. There’s never anywhere to dry the thing. I have never seen a washing-up bowl in an attractive colour. They also smell weird.

b) The only acceptable use for Marigold gloves is as part of a chicken costume

Inflate. Attach to head. Cluck.

4. The correct place for washing up liquid is the sponge

Spontex Washups for preference. Apply detergent to dark green scourer side, perhaps giving a small thumbal massage to start the soap foaming. Don’t, for pity’s sake, pour the washing-up liquid directly into the sink of water or under the running tap. And if you pour the soap directly onto the dish or glass itself, then you, sir (and I’m sorry, but I’ve only ever seen boys do this) are a pervert. If you were super dirty (down-the-pit-style dirty), would you immerse yourself in a bubble bath and wait for the filth to just fall off? Would you pour a bottle of shower gel onto yourself and wait for it to dissolve the grime? NO,YOU WOULD NOT.  You would apply the shower gel to your sponge, loofah, shower puff or body buffing mitts, where it would blossom into a delightful swell of lathery bubbly goodness and wash that dirt clean away.

5. Lather, like the Eucharist, is the visible sign of an invisible grace

My brother, when consulted on the washing up issue, attempted to deflect D for Dalrymple’s entirely reasonable and considered opinions re: washing-up liquid distribution by stating that the amount of lather generated in the washing up process is determined by a special lathering agent which in itself does not possess cleansing qualities. D for Dalrymple will admit to initially contesting this notion. However, subsequent research has revealed that the little know-it-all’s assertion may have some basis in fact.

Nevertheless, while generally rational in all things, D for Dalrymple is now perfectly happy to believe that the presence of lather denotes the presence of friendly little cleaning agents, possibly wearing white lab coats and spectacles, who use the foam as a magical slide as they scoot around the sink scooping dirt into tiny little briefcases before whispering away down the sink in bubbly chariots.

My aunt is coming to stay tomorrow. I’m feeling a bit stressed about it – can you tell?

About Christina Kenny

Christina Kenny is a music journalist based in London.
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8 Responses to Scrubs Up Well

  1. Mei says:

    OMFG, yes!!! Washing up bowls are nasty. Now, my parents are staunchly racist but they insist that the use of a washing up bowl is a weird ‘English’ thing and that it is WRONG. In the same way that carpeted bathrooms and that weird piss-soaking-up mat around the toilet are ‘English’ things.

    I am glad to know it is not an ‘English’ thing at all but a weird thing for people who are dirty and like to soak their plates in dirt. Ugh. Perverts, the lot of them!

    Merry Christmas to you, by the way. We meet soon? It has been waaaaay too long xx

  2. Ed says:

    Is the “b” in “thumbal” silent or pronounced? It’s troubling me …

  3. Christina says:

    Mei: don’t even get me started on the piss mat. Actually, do. They always form part of a repellent set with a matching front-of basin mat and toilet seat cover, in lilac or turquoise, made of that bizarre cotton tendril material you never see anywhere else – for a reason. What is the function of the cotton tendrils? To provide maximum surface area for absorbing wee? You can tell your parents from me that on things like tea and queuing I am very much a proud citizen but I am with them on the piss mats.

    • Mei says:

      I have given the piss-mat a great deal of consideration and I can safely conclude they are awful. However, if the person owning said mat is an even more unforgivably awful person and has a carpeted bathroom, then a piss-mat is acceptable if only to provide a surface that can be removed and laundered rather than carpet, which just lives there piss-sodden forever more… Or people could just not miss the toilet, but I fear I’m asking too much.

      Back to washing-up bowls, my parents did own one but it was used as the family sickbowl. There’s no way anything that can be used as a sickbowl should be used as a tool in washing up. Incidentally, I firmly believe that a family home is not complete without a dedicated sickbowl. Only then are you a grown up.

  4. Christina says:

    Ed: the ‘b’ is most certainly pronounced, in manner of ‘fumble’ or ‘cymbal’. I

  5. TomK says:

    How do you feel about leaving pans to soak in hot water and washing up liquid. Surely this is acceptable in the interests of eating food while it’s still warm?

    Also I feel like the discussion could have benefited from an investigation into the politics of washing up. I think many will agree that the key here is not technique, but finding ways of encouraging participation in the first place.

    nice blog x

  6. Christina says:


  7. Pingback: Er. Yes. Hi. | D for Dalrymple

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