No sleep for dust, rust, lust in spring


Last updated 09:58 11/12/2013
Pat Veltkamp Smith
Columnist Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.

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OPINION: Look, I know there are houses with neither skirting boards nor book shelves, with flat architraves and nothing in sight.

Our house is not one of those.

It has steps and stairs, books and bric-a-brac - all a reminder that dust, like rust, like lust, never sleeps, never lets up.

Most of the time we don't give any of these a second thought - except rust maybe when a WoF is due.

Lust and dust are both speedily enough dispatched in the course of a day, and a night.

But come spring, late, like now and images of dust pervade our quiet moments, memories of dust on long-gone pelmets, worrying thoughts of where dust unseen might be settling now - on light shades, curtain rails, the top of picture frames, the high edge of door frames, round unopened windows, on seldom opened books, where ivy creeps in and has not resolutely been cut back, behind fridges and washing machines, freezers and photo frames.

Easy to dismiss housekeeping scruples in slightly neurotic mates; harder to ignore the spring cleaning call in our own pad as bright sunshine shows up drab and dingy paintwork, lustreless silver, dull brass and stainless steel that has not earned its adjective.

All it really takes is a solid weekend's work, cleaning bathroom walls, pulling out beds and chests of drawers, poking behind an unmovable piano, shaking out duvets and drapes, quietly banging books, not banging records, gently handwashing linen and lace, ironing cool with care.

If that were all, 'twere done.

But that's just the beginning, the writing down of lists of cleaning products and gadgets like carpet cleaners and long-handled window washers to do it all.

The more that is thought of - the cleaning out of cupboards and drawers which last week were housing treasures now categorised as "accumulated junk" - the fewer hands there are to the plough.

Family members desert the ship, Himself retreating down another path.

What drives this radical cleaning progrom?

Me, in my dreams.

Spring cleaning is again competing with Christmas cake, cards, parties and shopping and is destined to miss out - again.

Sad, eh?

Still they'll keep, and sleep - rust, lust, dust too.

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