Reversepilgrims Blog

a northwest family moves to the UK

On the absence of ironing September 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — reversepilgrims @ 11:29 pm

Sending the boys off to school in a uniform every day sounded a bit stuffy to me at first. And, to be perfectly honest, more than a little daunting. What I’m really trying to say is…I am not particularly skilled in the ways of removing wrinkles. I believe the politically correct term is ironing impaired. I also have a fear of heavy, awkward, relatively unstable appliances that are extremely hot.

Resigned to put them in polyester if it came to that, I got over my initial fears and set out for the store. As with most delusional thinking, it passed in the face of concrete evidence to the contrary and the entire family has warmed up to the idea of school uniforms for one reason or another.

First of all, they are not the pressed collars, creased slacks and itchy socks I had envisioned. In primary school (which is generally preschool through 5th grade), they wear a white or light blue polo shirt and school jumper (sweatshirt) with black or grey trousers (politely refrain from calling them pants, that’s short for underpants in this neck of the woods) and black shoes. It all sounds terribly comfy and the boys seem to agree.

Secondly, they are cheap. You can find school uniforms everywhere, even in the grocery stores. The shirts are sold in packs of two or three and work out to about $3 each. Trousers are under $10, even for a top of the line brand with an adjustable waistband. So, counting socks, both boys are all set up with the basics for about a hundred bucks. Seriously! With shoes and the jumpers, we’ll go a bit over $200 total. Now that’s something to write home about!

My favorite part is where I don’t have to iron anything. (insert audible gasps from the neighbors here) This is due to the fact that, unlike most of the people I have met here, I actually plan to utilize the clothes dryer located in our house. I am aghast at how many people I have met–professional people, people with multiple children, people seemingly normal in every way imaginable–who tell me that they have dryers, but they simply don’t use them. Ever. Well, maybe once or twice in December. I have popped into a friend’s house on more than one occasion to find her husband ironing away, briskly working his way through a stack of line dried t-shirts, linens, pajamas and trousers while taking in a little telly through the French doors. Amazing. I should also note that said English people are likely equally aghast at the fact that I don’t iron unless I absolutely have to, i.e., when my husband is out of town and I have an engagement at a five star venue. In a nutshell, never.

When I ask them why they don’t use their dryers, they scrunch up their noses and grumble about the fact that it’s expensive, but I suspect that there is more to the story. I sense a mixture of habit, tradition and preferring not to be like all those bloody lazy yanks, except they are too polite to share that last bit.

I will admit to buying a clothes horse and testing the waters. You can still catch me hanging the odd linen or synthetic item up in my kitchen, but I’m not currently willing to iron the itchy wrinkles out of my nightshirts on a regular basis. Upon receipt of our first electricity bill, I may be ironing along with the best of them, but for now, I am blissfully toting load after pint-sized load out to the dryer in the garage where they dry in an hour or so and become relatively wrinkle free in the process. That is, of course, if I collect and fold them when they are still warm…hey, maybe that’s it! Maybe they just don’t want to be tied down with all that hovering about to pluck the clothes out in that ever-so-precious ‘wrinkle free window’. Maybe they like the idea of ironing when it darn well suits them. As for me, I”m contemplating buying an even bigger dryer.

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8 Responses to “On the absence of ironing”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Hi Erin,

    I was equally amazed at the non-use of dryers when I moved here. A lot of people don’t even HAVE them! But after using mine (which is brand new, and in my kitchen~I couldn’t bear the thought of running outside to pull clothes out of the dryer, and luckily I had room in my kitchen) I have little patience for it. It takes SO long to dry anything! So I am actually using the clothesline but only really iron my husband’s clothes. In the US it was dry cleaners all the way, but they are not that handy around here. Anyway, I find most of the clothes do tend to dry on the line without much wrinkling. Once they are completely dry they look pretty good. I do dry the towels and washcloths (unknown item to the Brits). Can’t stand scratchy towels.

  2. Victoria Says:

    Hey Erin, I did laugh at this and for the record I think you are right!
    But you will laugh at me when I tell you that I iron ‘non-iron’ items as well as those that require ironing….. such a saddo!
    I am sure I would have SO much more time on my hands to do the things I really wanted to, if only I could STOP ironing everything!!! LOL 😉
    Hope those lovely boys settle in to school OK.
    xx

  3. Elaine Thomas Says:

    Erin,
    Once again you found my soft spot. I love to iron. Even catching clothes in that wrinkle free freshly dried state, I iron them. I’m sure an iron uses more electric current than a dryer…IF you iron every thing. I like to hang my wash. Even got a new clothes line this summer…and couldn’t use it d ue to rain. I like to Iron because I can watch what I want on TV!! The French Chef! Bon Apetif! ET

    • I’m sure Victoria will be pleased to hear that there are some Americans who love to iron, too! I am just not one of them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the warm, comforting feeling of freshly ironed things, I’d simply rather choose an alternative, yet equally productive, activity to take on while I watch TV–like eating junk food.

  4. karen the glaub Says:

    I actually bought my iron to wax my snowboards. How about that? However, I ended up with the three children instead of time to snowboard. So just this past weekend out came the iron to press some clothes and a table cloth for the big weekend of my Father-in-law’s funeral. We had more than 60 people over after the formal ceremony, the burial and the formal celebration of life. What a time. But by-golly, those irons do come in handy!!


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