Magpie Anthology

Flat Life Society

My ironing pile mocks me daily. It’s a Kilimanjaro of crumpled shirts; a giant looming peak of scrumpled fabric overflowing the confines of its basket.  I walk past and do my best not to see it, but I know it’s there, a silent reminder of yet another job I haven’t got round to doing. The heap mostly consists of the husband’s work shirts*, and it’s a sad fact that far more of them have taken up permanent residence in that plastic tub than actually hang in the wardrobe. Obviously he has too many… I can feel a cull coming on.

I’ve given up hope of ever seeing the bottom of that basket, but then it’s all about expectations, isn’t it? Maybe I should just lower mine and not aim for super-sleek garments at all – or at least be satisfied when the pile is concave. And why iron anyway? What if those creases represent something more? What if, in our efforts to squash those troublesome wrinkles, we steam away the very essence of what makes us unique. Who says smooth and streamlined is better anyway?

Hollywood does for a start. The creeping propensity of plastic surgery means movie stars with frozen smiles – faces paralysed in perpetuity. Filled lips, tightened cheeks, poker-straight foreheads, skin stretched painfully taut: it must be hard to express an emotion if your face won’t actually move. And isn’t moving one’s face an actor’s stock and trade?  In all this Stepford Wife-style, Kardashian-inspired sameness, aren’t we missing something? There’s so much those flawless faces aren’t telling us: the peculiarities of a personality; life stories written in skin; secrets buried deep in laughter lines.

Go outdoors and bumps along your path are part of the package. You wouldn’t want to climb a smooth mountain. There would be nothing to reach out for; nothing to hold on to. How would you get onwards and upwards? No one ever celebrated the flawless finish of a mountain range – it’s the variety of crevasses, crags and cracks that drives people on. The real fun for the climber lies in nature’s imperfection in all its glorious unpredictability.

All of which is a handy way of explaining away my ironing laxness: I can tell myself I don’t want to flatten out life’s defects or remove any precious waymarks of experience. Straight is over rated; wrinkles are the future and I intend to free myself from the shackles of the ironing board (and Instagram filters) and embrace them. Even if it does mean my family ends up looking like poor relations of Worzel Gummidge. Now what else can I remove from the to-do list…

*(It’s possible to be a feminist and still iron your partner’s clothes)

Lucy Callington

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