Jayne Dawson: Women love ironing? Kirstie, you are so wrong

Kirstie Allsopp.
Kirstie Allsopp.
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Currently, I’m working on a sleeve. I’ve done the back, smoothed across the yoke, and dashed the iron between the buttons. Only the cuffs to follow.

After that I reckon I’ll feel totally calm and serene.

I have the ironing board set up by my desk, in the middle of the office. It’s proving a bit of a hazard, what with the hot iron and the dangling wires and stuff, and some of my colleagues seem less than serene about it, to be honest.

Still I need it close by if I am going to fit in a bit of therapeutic ironing between stories, as recommended by Kirstie.

So I hope in time they will come to understand - maybe even join me with their own ironing boards. Where have you set up yours, because I’m sure you are following Kirstie’s advice too ?

It’s true that ironing doesn’t get talked about very often, but presenter Kirstie Allsop, she of Location, Location, Location and Kirstie’s Homemade Home, put this mundane household task firmly in the news this week. Ironing is having its moment in the sun.

Kirstie said that she and many of her friends enjoy ironing, and also other repetitive domestic work.

She likes nothing better than to get out the basket of creased clothes and believes many women find it soothing to carry out mundane tasks around the house.

Now I rather like Kirstie, I think a lot of women do. She has that crucial female-friendly factor - she is not thin.

Kirstie isn’t up there with Nigella, but she does get the real women seal of approval - until now.

I have always believed the Girls-Like-That-Sort-Of-Thing argument about domestic tasks was a convenient male view of the world, long since discredited by women who have said consistently and repeatedly that mundane domestic chores bore them witless and they only do them because someone has to. But apparently not. Apparently Kirstie believes it too.

It’s disappointing but actually all too easy to see why she would say such a thing. Her exact words were: “I’m not doing the ironing because I have to, but if I get a chance I find it immensely therapeutic.”

What Kirstie means is that has a fantastic job and is in the prime of her television career. So to escape it all and dash away with an iron for twenty minutes makes her feel motherly and grounded and at the heart of her family. And the crucial bit is that she doesn’t have to. If Kirstie decides that she doesn’t have time for the boring, back-breaking job making her family’s clothes smooth and neat, then clearly there is someone else to step in.

Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher used to say a similar thing, claiming to love a bit of housework above all things, other than invading the Falklands

But dipping in just for fun and to give your brain a bit of a rest from running the country/ filling Channel Four is one thing; having to carry out these tasks relentlessly day after day without the respite of high-profile work is quite another.

Kirstie has done less privileged women a great disservice with her thoughtless statement.

She has made herself sound a bit Marie Antoinette, who had a cute version of a working farm created so she could play at work, without actually being obliged to do any. Doing a bit of housework on a whim so you can feel like just an ordinary mum is very different to actually being an ordinary mum left to carry out thankless boring jobs day after day.

Less lucky women work in unglamorous jobs, and then have the full burden of housework on their shoulders when they get home, whether they feel like it or not. Kirstie should have thought about that a bit more.

Alexandra Shulman. PIC: PA

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