Jayne Dawson: The world is a mess - get used to it while you’re young

TIDY TIME: Other people's mess is a nightmare.
TIDY TIME: Other people's mess is a nightmare.
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It’s always the other person, I find. Or people. Anyway, definitely them, and not you.

In my case that really is true. Honest to God, it is. I am the clean, tidy one. They are the mucky, messy ones.

I like order, heck I crave order. I like things to be contained, neat, stacked and categorised.

I want all the hangers to be facing the same way, all the spices for savoury dishes in one little plastic basket and all the spices for sweet dishes in another. I like the cleaning products under the sink to be in rows, according to function.

I don’t care if you know it. It’s a wild world out there and imposing order where you can - even if that is only your food cupboard, cleaning cupboard and your wardrobe - makes sense to me.

That’s probably the reason one of my son’s earliest memories is the sound of the vac whacking against his bedroom door as I whizzed it over the landing at the crack of dawn every Sunday.

“I’m so sorry if my back-breaking labour, at one of the few times of the week I wasn’t at work, disturbed your slumber” I say.

“Whatever” he replies. It’s a well-worn little routine we have going there.

But really, I’m not surprised more of us are living on our own because living with another person is, in so many ways, a perfect definition of hell.

There was a time way back in history - the 1950s to the 1970s - when everyone used to marry, and they used to marry young.

Churches back then were like a conveyor belt every Saturday. Couple after couple with awkward spectacles and acne at its height would gallop through the doors to be given the ecclesiastical blessing to set up home together. Then off they would go to their rented little love nest in a row of terraces nearby.

We look back at that now and think it was wrong. They were babies pretending to be grown-ups! They shackled themselves so young! It was all so naive!

Me, I’m not so sure. Here’s the crucial bit. These people set up home together when they were young enough and elastic enough to cope with each other’s bad habits.

These young things were not the finished article, they were still mouldable - which makes the business of dealing with someone else’s dropped wet towel on the bathroom floor a lot easier.

Likewise children. The terrifying tsunami of equipment, toys and dirty nappies that engulfs your home, that’s all more acceptable while your brain is young and bendy.

But we’ve changed all that. Now we set up home together later, if at all. We leave the baby chaos until later, if at all.

That’s dandy in its way but, crikey, it must make living with the mess so much harder. I mean, you are going to adapt so much better at 21 than 31 to a man who thinks worn socks live under the bed, has dirty-pan blindness and doesn’t understand the concept of wiping down a kitchen surface.

By 31, you are the finished product. You are set. If you always keep tomato ketchup in the fridge not the cupboard and always wash the teapot after every use, dealing with other methods is going to crack your mind.

Bedrooms can be every bit as bad as kitchens and bathrooms. A bed company (?) has been asking people to send in pictures of messy rooms, so some of the worst horrors have been revealed. Mostly they belong to children, because no self-respecting adult is going to post a picture of the dust balls under their bed or the floor-drobe created by their partner dropping all of this week’s worn clothes in the corner. Because, like I said, it is always the other person.

I have no advice. It’s an unsolvable problem. Set up home with your partner while you are young enough to take the strain, or always live alone, is the best I can do.

The truth is, I don’t have time to think it through any more - I’ve got tidying to do.