Mr Hoover; Look what you have done!

First flush of love

First flush of love

One of my all time heroes is Quinten Crisp. He proudly stated that in having lived for over four decades in a London bedsit, he never once cleaned it. “After a while, all dust just settled in the corners of my room just like snow.” You could not define this more poetically, could you? How utterly sensible and wise. The advent of so many suffering with respiratory lung troubles is now seen as a problem asescerbated by the overtly cleanliness and obsessive use of Pine-o-Clean and other disinfectants, killers of benevolent bacteria. We seem to kill the goodness in dirt and filth. The biggest problem and cause of this obsession though is the vacuum cleaner.

However, and here comes the catch. Dirt and dust don’t easily combine with domestic bliss. They don’t marry and live comfortably in the presence of conjugal stability and effervescent cohabitation between the different or not so different sexes. The Hoover Company knew that back in the thirties and cunningly took advantage of the hunt to eliminate dust and dirt. The broom was doomed! The original Hoover was called ‘a suction sweeper’ developed by a man called Spangler who suffered from asthma and blamed his lung problems on dust. The war on dust had begun.

And yet, what could be simpler and more aesthetically pleasing than to observe the workings and sounds of the simple broom. Remember this simple broom with willow twigs bound together around a nice and smooth handle? I remember the lovely swishing sounds it used to make. Now, one has to go to simple villages of Cambodia or Bali to yet see again, hear and get back into touch of the broom and their early morning swishing sounds. This sound and crowing roosters, how honest, earthy and essential.

Now look what damage you have done Mr Hoover. Please, go and ponder the hideous looks of the modern vacuum cleaner. A monstrous design. Mr Alvar Aalto would turn in his grave. The bulbous multi buttoned rocket look. Is it meant to land us on a comet or double as a spare bazooka trained onto foe and neighbour? This hideousness is rampant in the world of so many household aids but especially vacuum cleaners. It is promoted as having ‘cyclonic and climatic ‘ properties. Cyclonic? All those buttons and twisting hoses, wheels and gyrating whirling motors, just for dust? Give me back my willow broom!

My mother and Hoover

My mother and Hoover

But, in the quest for domestic harmony, I too have succumbed, like my parents did, back in Rotterdam, to a vacuum cleaner. I too do the rounds, listlessly but with enough determination to fill the bag. I too pull this machine around obstacles and sincerely lie, when asked if I have removed all the bedside tables, or vacuumed under the bed. (I avoid doing that because it always sucks up a sock.) It is painful and mind dehydrating. At the end, the machine disgorges its bag with dog hair and grey dust, a strange pink rubber ring, a hairpin or Milo’s abandoned crust of Pane di Casa into the bin of discontented household garbage.

Look at the happiness on the faces of my parents, seduced by a new Hoover. The newly weds. They would have been the last of the Mohicans in willow broom usage.

It makes me weep bitter tears.

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25 Responses to “Mr Hoover; Look what you have done!”

  1. Master of Something Yet Says:

    My kids hardly ever get sick. Guess that gives you a fair indication of the state of my house.

    I loathe vacuuming. I would rather iron a million shirts than vacuum the house. Maybe I should try a willow broom. How are they on wool carpet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A simple broom used to do for thousands of years. Cleaning now has descended into a multi national money making business. The number of cleaning items on supermarket shelves in the thousands. Of course all that by the nurturing of fear of dreadful diseases if we don’t keep clean and spend money on killing naughty germs.
      It is all so silly. But, within reason, a bit of cleaning does no harm.
      Wool carpets? we threw them out and replaced with large ceramic tiles. Wonderful and easy to clean.

      Like

  2. Andrew Says:

    Worse has happened in our home, Gerard. Not only do we have the sucking device we also have not one but now two steam cleaners. I am in despair. What lies beyond suction and steam? Please don’t answer. It may tip me over the edge.

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  3. Silver in the Barn Says:

    You are, of course, exactly right. We are too clean resulting in various ailments including the huge uptick in allergies here in the US. I don’t know about Australia. They blame also the overuse of all that anti-bacterial soap and hand gels we use obsessively. I was so fascinated to learn while watching the documentary “The Roosevelts” about the polio virus. In a nutshell, as we developed into a cleaner nation in the early 20th century, our immune systems were exposed to fewer and fewer bad germs thus leaving more room for viruses such as polio to invade. I’m probably not remembering this perfectly accurately but you get the gist. A little dirt is a good thing.

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, you now see people washing hands on TV. They give demonstrations as if it is a new invention. The photo of my mother vacuuming proves it was a turning point in many peoples lives. I mean it must have been a monumental purchase and a form of great pride and achievemnt for my dad to have been able to buy it. My quess the photo was taken some time after their wedding 1937 or so.
      Our vacuum cleaner is called ‘Meteor’.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Patti Kuche Says:

    Gerard, I still swing the broom far more often than I wrestle with the hoover but then I don’t have too much in the way of carpets either. And how funny is it that what with all the hand sanitizers etc the only food to eat is ultra organic!

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  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, there is now organic water. The vacuum cleaner is waiting downstairs and plugged in. I need a bit of fortitude with steely determination before going downstairs,

    Like

  6. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Always so thoughtful, you are, Gerard. If you use the wrong type of vacuum cleaner it will spew out more dust than one is actually removing from the floor. I have to be very careful to move that machine across the tile and hardwood or it puts all manner of dust particles into the air which then get into my sinus cavities and causes awful headaches and dizziness. I need to wear a mask of cloth that is moistened with water that helps filter out the dust better than a regular mask. A good vacuum must be one that puts the dirt into a container of water. Those cost a small fortune.

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Gee, sorry that dust is such a problem for you. I think tiled and wooden floors are easier to keep clean than carpets. We have taken out the carpet in living area and replaced with large tiles. It is easy to mop over, even a dry mop seems to take the dust out. Our problem is Milo. He is a rough-coated Jack Russell and sheds more hair than a herd of fifty camels. But, we love him, could not go without him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. M-R Says:

    I used to loathe doing the vacuuming; and then my back put a stop to it, to my utter joy ! Now I have what was supposed to be a uni student once a fortnight (but has turned out to be a junior lecturer !); and after one go with my Nilfisk, he has brought his own Dyson ! Some people have all the luck, and I’m one of ’em.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      That’s funny. We have a Nifiisk too called ‘meteor’. It sucks like a demon and easy to empty. The Dyson is supposed to be the Rolls Royce but a friend had one and it burned out. ( Probably took off, they look like rockets.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Spain is easy. Sweep and mop. Gib is the same, but the sofa does benefit from a vacuum to get rid of the dog fur. Otherwise I have to brush it off. Vacuum cleaners aren’t bad. Fitted carpets are the true evil disallowing the flow of fresh air and harbouring evil lurgies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Wall to wall carpets are the bane of many a house hold. They are the harbingers of many an evil disease. We stripped our house of those and had floors tiled. A dream to clean by just going over it with a mop. Looks better too.

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      • roughseasinthemed Says:

        One of my first tasks on acquiring new properties was rip out old carts and fitted furniture. In the UK it meant floorboards (with a few rugs) and tiles in the kitchen. I did concede, reluctantly, to carpet in the bathroom. But only the bathroom.

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  9. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I’m afraid that I am the most awful slattern. I only get the hoover out occasionally but I adore sweeping the yard, especially at this time of year with all the crisp leaves around. As you would imagine, all of our floors are tiled here but I do have a large persian rug in the dining room and small ethnic rugs in the bedrooms and sitting room. In Indonesia they even use the sapi to beat the beds, I miss that swish swish sound too🙂

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I know the Indonesian are very good in keeping things clean. The sapi or ‘mattenklopper’, we still have one. In the good (bad) old times, they were sometimes used to discipline a child into compliance. There is something about hoovering that isn’t with sweeping. Sweeping gives satisfaction but hoovering is different, the noise and the lead getting stuck underneath a chair or a corner. It gives opportunity to outbursts of an irrational anger. I must go and see a good quack about it.

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  10. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I don’t hoover more than I have to, and I do the odd stint with a stiff brush and pan, But if you want to go hoover less, Gerald, you must be prepared to devote hours to a task, which nowadays only lasts minutes. There’s the rub.

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  11. ThePoliticalVagina Says:

    The vacuum cleaner is a devils instrument (of torture), don’t get me started. Try going around furniture – the cord ….or the wheel ALWAYs gets caught up on something (always). There is no ease of movement or flow, so always problematic. Or the cord pings out of the socket and is never long enough. Handy at getting rid of excess dogs,cats and humans – the noise of a vacuum cleaner can clear a room in 5 seconds flat! The extreme rigamarole (obsessive compulsive) of emptying the barrel, cleaning the two filters and then the air inlets every time I use it (otherwise fumes of toasted dead dust and stinky dog permeate the air). Sometimes it’s necessary to wash said filters to get a fresher smelling vacuum. On top of that the feel of vacuum cleaner dust makes my skin crawl ( truly, I shudder just to think of it).
    I have mostly lovely big white tiles and do love them too Gerard, the only carpet is in my bedroom and horror or horrors it’s white too! (well kind of grungy white in the doorways). The white carpet is some kind of magical magnet to my dog Willy and my daughters’ dog Jess (who makes a beeline for my bedroom as soon as she arrives). They just NEED to be in there and they are banned but this just makes them want to be in there all the more. Both are black dogs, who shed unimaginable copious amounts of black fur! So you can imagine the state of my white tiles and carpet. As soon as the cyclonic whiz hits the floor – SCHOOMP the barrell is chockas with black fur.Willy is also banned from the couch (he ate a hole in one once when I first got him). He think’s he’s being clever by getting off the couch and back into his official bed come morning every day but there IS telltale evidence on the couch. Oh and I also have a cat called Missy but she sheds tabby coloured clumps because of the fine fluffy nature of her fur. I do a quick sweep between vacs because it’s such a trauma struggling around furniture with cords and ill mannered wands and pipes that make me feel accident prone, angry and dyslexic.
    Can you tell I’m no fan of the vacuum cleaner? When I was young I remember fighting with my brother for a go on mum’s brand new vacuum cleaner. Mainly because it looked like a spaceship and it hovered on a cushion of air.
    The funny thing is the house only ever feels truly clean after a vacuum and a mop.

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      What a great tale of hoovering, enough for an entire book on the subject. Yes, wasn’t it for Milo and his copious shedding of hair I would probably only vacuume once every 4 weeks or so. But apart from that there is also so much dust about. Even with the double glazing, everything gets coated with a grey dust. I suppose Australia with its vast expanse of dry and dusty land might be the culprit. But, what can one do? I suppose some people get it done by others but not us.
      Thanks you PV for this great and personal insight in what we all have to endure; the fight against dust.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. gerard oosterman Says:

    I actually use a large mop to dust the floors. It has a kind of swivelling foot action and grabs dust better than anything else. I ,after using it to collect the dust in its woollen environs go outside and shake it with great vigour and with great pride. The neighbours probably talk about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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