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Domestic science – or lack of it

That bloody fiend, Ms Alzheimers has taken up residence in my dishwasher – like a slug which has crawled obscenely up the waste paper.

My Loved One was King of the Dishwasher. It’s a gender thing, he used to tell me fondly as he expertly stacked plates and cutlery therein and, an hour later fussily put every item away in its accustomed place. And woe betide me if I dared put so much as washed mug in the cupboard or a knife in the drawer because it would never be up to MLO’s standards. Men are good at dishwashers. Women are not, I was told.  He passed the same wisdom (or something) on to both our sons too. Elkin men are dishwasher chaps. Impede them at your peril.

Well for decades I’ve acquiesced in this sexist nonsense because I am very busy and it was one less thing for me to do. I’d delegated it and if he chose to lord it over me on this one issue then fine. Get on with it, mate.

But now, of course, things have changed. MLO can rarely remember whether the machine has run or not so I often have to remove a dirty cup or plate which he has popped in to sully the clean things which are drying. He can no longer stack it logically either. Setting it to go and/or finding the tablet to put in the plastic compartment isn’t easy either. He unwraps the ready-to-use ones and leaves the cellophane on the ones you’re meant to undo.  And if he tries to empty it when the cycle is finished many things get put in the wrong places. I might find the cat’s dishes with our own plates and basins or tea mugs in with saucepans. Things I need in the kitchen disappear too and I sometimes search for days.

Yes, I see Ms A’s  foul face every time I open the dishwasher door. “Yoo-hoo, I’m in here too now” she crows. And I have to keep telling myself that I must never complain. It’s the illness, not him. It’s often hard to remember that though when – as this week – I exasperatedly found a ruined bag of expensive best quality oranges in the freezer instead of the fridge and had to remove a pile of dirty dusters from the tumble dryer.  Although the latter is in a different part of the house, MLO had forgotten and mistaken it for the washing machine.

She has long pernicious tentacles, does Ms A. And I’m afraid I grumble at her victim all the time. How can this orderly man I’ve lived with for nearly fifty years suddenly be unable to put the cutlery away competently or not know where his clean socks are?  It seems so ridiculous. What I feel instinctively and from long habit is at total variance with what the medics say and what, incredulously, I see happening every day.  I wish I were more saintly and could just keep quiet but …

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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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