Coffee House

Washing up is therapeutic and dishwashers are socialist

26 December 2012

It’s Boxing Day. Your kitchen worktops are groaning under piles of plates, roasting dishes, pans and champagne glasses. If you’re struggling to persuade anyone in your house to fill the sink with hot soapy water, you should first hand them a copy of Mark Mason’s piece in the Christmas issue of the Spectator, ‘The tao of washing up’. Mark writes that washing up is ‘therapeutic’, a ‘Zen-like state where troubles disappear and inspiration thrives’, threatened only by ‘evil’ dishwashers. He also details how to get the most satisfaction from a session at the sink:

Like all truly noble endeavours, washing up has time-honoured rituals. ‘Washing as you cook’ is a particular pleasure, allowing regular hits of the drug amidst your peeling and boiling. Real aficionados even extend this to ‘washing as you eat’. Grayson Perry’s wife says he does ‘that wonderful, restful thing of washing up all the dishes between the main course and dessert’. But adding fuel to the theory that washing up has a male bias, she adds: ‘He doesn’t do it if he has a dress on, though. That’s the only annoying thing about living with a transvestite — he thinks it’s feminine to just hang around in a chair.’

If you’re using a bowl, rather than going commando with the ‘sink only’ option, the final pleasure is rinsing out the bowl and wiping its bottom with your cloth (Freudians, please discuss). There’s some famous footage of Margaret Thatcher doing just this. Now there was a washer-upper. So keen was Maggie on the chore that during one prime ministerial visit to Balmoral she insisted on washing up after the barbecue. Bit of a problem there: by tradition this occasion is the Queen’s yearly turn at the task. She even retires to a special hut to do it. Only after some discussion did Her Majesty prevail.

Gloves are controversial. For me they’re a no-no — condomish insulation from the water’s heat. Ideally the temperature should render your hands scarlet. (Unless you’re Chris Evans, who prefers his water tepid. Just not natural — the man needs watching.) One of my friends likes water so hot that his hands have actually started to scale up; reluctantly, he is now donning the Marigolds. Another solves the problem with moisturiser. Truly, washing up is the road to metrosexuality.

You can read more about socialist dishwashers and the cheeky trick Mark and his friends played on one earnest chum at the washing up bowl here.

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  • John Smith

    Washing up is a pain in the ass. A dishwasher is democratic & liberating
    That’s after being the person to do ALL the washing up this holiday

  • barbie

    Well I’ve got a dishwasher, and was moaned at by you know who when it was bought. However, the first Sunday it did the dishes and he sat back doing nothing, he was full of its praises. So, I sat with him, and gleamed satisfaction at spending his money, and having more free time. I’ve never looked back and this Christmas Day was just the same; a loaded dishwasher, humming away while we sat and digested our lunch, which I had cooked. Men have the good life come what may!!! (I’m ready for the onslaught.)

    • Coffeehousewall

      When I am at the in-laws I used to enjoy escaping to the kitchen to do the dishes. Now they have a dishwasher it means we are all stuck with each others company.

  • Siegfrieda

    Ooh you gents…you are sooo sweet…….

  • David Ossitt

    “He doesn’t do it if he has a dress on, though. That’s the
    only annoying thing about living with a transvestite”

    Really? Is it truly the only annoying thing?

    I do not believe a word of it.

  • kidmugsy

    I stopped dishwashing when my disc slipped. My wife soon bought a dishwasher.

    • alexsandr

      old non PC sexist joke
      why are womens feet smaller than mens?
      so they can get nearer to the kitchen sink!

      • Sarah

        Why are men’s feet bigger than women’s? So they fill their mouths.

        • Ian Walker

          What do you call a woman trying to tell jokes?

          A taxi.

          • Eddie

            How many lesbians does it take to change a light bulb?
            A fuck of a lot – coz they’re not very good at screwing, no matter how hard they practise with their strap-ons. It just ain’t the same, is it?

          • Coffeehousewall


  • stringwhinger

    What a silly article.

    • HooksLaw

      I think its meant to be.

      • Coffeehousewall

        And it turned out that way.

  • alexsandr

    rubbish. buy a dishwasher. just shove all your dirty pots in the white cupboard and they come out sparkling later. And 100% clean, not covered in missed bits then smeared with an e-coli ridden tea towel.

    • HooksLaw

      My theory is that you have two dishwashers and you then do not need the intervening cupboards.

      • alexsandr


        (Sorry, there should be a ‘snigger’ thing to click)

        • Coffeehousewall


      • dalai guevara

        You beat me to it – the last house I designed I had these put in.
        Prepare for this to be standard by 2050.

    • Eddie

      Nonsense! No-one needs a dishwasher – an expensive, wasteful user of water (which should be metered and paid for) which puts femi-chemicals into the water system.
      You are clearly just a lazy hysteric.
      No e-coli of any form on teatowels, silly! Far more likely to have bits left on things in a dishwasher, and bacteria too. (You are just a sucker for advertising misinformation to make you buy unncessary products).
      Washing up is WONDERFUL – I actually look forward to it, as the final ‘closure’ of the life of a meal – from the shopping, to the preparation, to the cooking and storing leftovers (which wasters like you no doubt bin!). It is ‘closure’ as US therapists would put it. And I can listen to the radio is peace and quiet when I’m doing it too!

      • Sarah

        Remarkable. I wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it given the feminine-neutral, masculine stance of this blog, but Eddie rose to the challenge and got a women-hating, victimisation in.

        I’m not sure I’m satisfied with his conclusion that washing up is less emasculating than using a dishwasher though, given the above evidence.

        • Eddie

          Errr, who are you talking to Psycho Sarah? Your own front bottom perhaps? Or that little bottle of pills in front of you?
          No woman-hating at all in my post or any of them either. Plenty of man hating in yours. And the usual craving for victimhood for all women, and the attemt to portray all men as somehow obsessed with the gender wars that obsess you. Oh dear. You really are mental, aren’t you?
          Neither washing up nor using a dish washer is emasculating, you silly bint! The point of the article was class, not gender.
          Reminds us, psycho – how is your post in ANY way relevant to the article above?

        • Coffeehousewall

          Sarah is rather aggressive. Its surely a matter of fact that femi-chemicals are toxifying us all.

      • siegfrieda

        ……and probably alone too

      • Coffeehousewall

        Actually I also enjoy washing up.

    • 2trueblue

      There is nothing therapeutic about facing a lot of dirty dishes. A nice bath is therapeutic and coming down to a dishwasher full of sparkling dishes.

      • Eddie

        I disagree – washing up (and being away from others whilst listening to Classic FM) is VERY therapeutic indeed. Fpr some, anyway.

        So are many other things: playing the piano, masturbation and ludo.

        I do not claim that I have given an extensive list.

        • 2trueblue

          You could always rent yourself out to do dishwashing, I am sure you will be in demand.

          • Coffeehousewall

            I used to enjoy having washing up duty at my college. Very relaxing in its own way.

    • Coffeehousewall

      I always prefer to wash dishes by hand but my wife insists that we use the dish washer and complains if dishes are left in the sink where they could be quickly cleaned and used again.

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