For some, it’s a chore. For others, Sundays wouldn’t be the same without their weekly ironing pile. There’s always an underlying urge for those non-ironers to question the art, but with such mechanics, one daren’t try jumping in with the query and potentially sabotaging play.
According to a slightly dated yet highly engaging article from the Times, the average woman manages 215 miles of ironing in a lifetime. Having witnessed many female ironers, it’s true to say that both quantities and techniques vary greatly. For me, the true Iron Lady was someone I once resided with for a short time in Spain. Her family were by no means expectant, but every Sunday at 7pm (dinner simmering away), she would be behind her trusty mantle; weapon at the ready. The pile quickly moved to steam, and it was always an impressive spectacle. I’m sure she would have a place in the Guinness Book of Records for her performance.
The longest ironing marathon in the world was played out over a massive eighty hours. Australian Janette Hastings (again: female) wowed spectators with her impressive endurance, flattening opponents from around the world. I’m sure my Spanish amiga would have given her a run for her money.
‘How do people get into this?’ I hear myself ask. I think for most, as suggested at the beginning of this piece, it’s a part of life. Whether you’re working for a Cheap Manchester Ironing service, or running to retain your place in the book in the depths of Australia, ironing has gradually become a necessity. When life gives you an iron, you’ve got to make Iron Bru.
I think for some, the daunting prospect of the abyss of symbolism on the ironing dial causes alarm. Many people – often males like myself – tend to lack patience when it comes to making the final decision over whether to iron underpants on the ‘wool’ option. Will it burn? Should I have paid more attention in science? It all comes flooding back. Many old fashioned people despair at the notion. When irons were what they should be – a piece of iron warmed on the fire – everyone was happy. No complicated steam settings, no fuse changing, and no need for a bout of instruction-hunting to fathom whether you should iron over the transfer or just turn the T-shirt inside out. My grandmother would always go for the latter option. Melted plastic will ruin your clothes. My Spanish friend would know which setting to use on the iron to avoid unnecessary time-wasting.
Whether you’re a regular ironer or a mere once-a-month kind of person, there’s always the post-iron dilemma. You’ve ironed one sleeve, and now you’re going in for the second. As you’re ironing, you notice sleeve A is crumpling. You go back to sleeve A and accidentally iron a crease INTO the sleeve. You discard the shirt and do some pillow cases. This is often something that occurs. My favourite thing in the world is to get someone else to do it for me.