One of my greatest failings as an ex, was to sit back and put my feet up as the lovely Agnes went about her daily chores of gutting fish, analysing psychopaths, and trying to maintain decorum in a house of screaming children. Yesterday morning, I felt moved to correct that mistake by offering to take up some of the household chores myself.
Now I must confess at this juncture, that I have lived in comfortable solitude for some time now, so moving back into the realms of shared responsibility would be something that needed careful planning. Agnes has a sharp eye for detail, and I was sure that any attempts to do household tasks with my usual carefree attitude would be met with a critical eye from the Wicked Witch Of The North.
So I offered to do the ironing.
There was a slight pause. Disbelief hovered over her features as the dawning realisation that one of her least favourite jobs was soon to be removed, and then slowly began to manifest itself as a twinkle in her eye.
"Sounds fair to me."
Later that evening, I began to realise just what I was in for. The Parsnip household has one person in it. Me. Ironing is something that occurs with the television on, preferably an amusing movie, and more time spent watching the box than what I'm doing with the hot electrical device filled with water in my hands. Creases build character, and by the time I have commuted to the office, the stress and tension built up from manoevering past maniacs and lunatics on the M1 have added a good few dozen more creases to whatever I'm wearing. Add to this, the fact that I work occasionally from home (negating the need to get dressed), and the fact that most of the people in the office wear T-Shirts and jeans (shorts and flip-flops in the summer), you begin to build a picture of someone that neither sees the point, or enjoys ironing; hence doesn't bother to do it too well.
I was informed of the best place to iron (out of the way, in a corner, behind the sofa and next to the broomstick) and the correct method for assembling the ironing board. As the iron heated up, I looked at the small pile of clothes with some trepidation. Agnes was perched on the sofa, sipping her coffee and pretending to be interested in the movie, seemingly suffering from some nervous twitch. As I plucked a simple black top from the pile and stretched out a sleeve I discovered that in fact, the nervous twitching was a subterfugal attempt to see precisely what and how I was performing.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes, yes, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes... Well... If there's anything too... complicated in there, just leave it for me to do."
I arched a curious eyebrow. "Do you really want me to do this?"
Her shoulders dropped, and relief gushed out of her. "You just do your stuff, ok?"
I nodded. So be it. Two shirts and a pair of trousers. No problem.
I got on with the shirt, Agnes relaxed back into the sofa and I chuckled. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw her Raven Beauty dyed locks begin to jiggle as she turned her head once again.
"Hmm?" I looked up to see her regarding me with a look of exasperation.
"What are you faffing about at?"
I looked down at the iron in my hands, the shirt stretched out on the ironing board, and for a brief second I considered answering her with the truth. I was ironing a shirt. Seeing the look in her eyes though, honesty was unlikely to be the best policy. I decided to feign stupidity. I looked at the shirt, then at her, then put on my best confused look. The one reserved for when women ask you what at first glance appears to be an obvious question, but is in fact a subtle trap designed to draw you into something that will assuredly make you distinctly uncomfortable.
Agnes was watching me as if I were a small child playing with adult toys "I never bother to iron the collar."
"How do you do it then?"
This was her cue. She jumped up off the sofa and came to the ironing board. I stepped away and watched as she picked up the material with practiced grace and began to rotate it on the board. Deftly hefting the iron she began to press the material slowly and with precision. I watched. Awestruck.
After my lesson, Agnes allowed my to try my hand at her cloak. She moved back to the sofa and settled down as I pulled a top out of the way, pausing to try and turn it the right way out. Straps got tangled, and as I frowned, trying to master the technique of untangling women's strappy clothes, Agnes' hand appeared.
"Give it to me."
The cloak was ironed... Eventually...