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!
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.