The Domestic Goddess: Have Dyson Hairdryer, Will Trade for Vacuum Cleaner

Two years ago, we were celebrating the holidays with my sister in up-state New York when she presented her husband with a Dyson vacuum cleaner as his Christmas gift. At the time, I took his show of enthusiasm to be unique to newlyweds. Now I understand that he was genuinely excited about a vacuum cleaner.

Since mid March, when our home staff returned to their families, I have been battling to find my inner domestic goddess. In the past, others have tried to locate it for me. Jamie Oliver’s recipe doorstop is a stylish kitchen shelf adornment. I’ve been given an apparatus that looks like it belongs in a laboratory in which I am supposed to sprout my own mung beans. My mother-in-law has bought me top-of-the range cookware. (She was horrified by the selection of supermarket pots and pans when she first tried to cook in our kitchen.) I once attended a cooking course because it was touted as a social event by my book club. I thought I’d just park off at the counter with a glass of wine and good company. No such luck. Firstly, it was held in an industrial-sized kitchen above a hypermarket chain, built right next to a three-laned motorway.  Secondly, the trainer had the personality of a dishcloth – dull, boring and bossy. There wasn’t a stool in sight and the cooking only ended at 9pm. By which time we had sore feet, backache, we’d run out of wine and we were starving.

The thing about feeding people is that the task is never really done. Like, ever. No sooner have the kids laid their spoons next to their soggy cereal bowls than they need a snack. In a half-ditched effort to save them from scurvy, I occasionally throw some fruit into a blender (not too often though – the thing is a b*tch to wash). These conconctions mostly consist of banana, yoghurt and honey – I get horrified reactions when I slip in illegal ingredients which don’t even come close to kale. (“This tastes like apple! I don’t eat raspberries!”) When the smoothies are only half drunk, they are STARVING for anything high in sugar or salt that they may be able to wangle…

A while back, a friend convinced me to sign up for UCook. I was like, “I must cook? Why me? I’m paying U! Why can’t U cook?” Fortunately our helper is gifted in the kitchen and so she cooked. But for the past month, I’ve had a large box of intimidating ingredients arrive on my doorstep every week, needing to be rinsed, chopped, roughly shredded, reduced… you name it. I was even told to “slice the spring onion on the diagonal”. I ask you with tears in my ears: how does one slice a stalk of spring onion on the diagonal? As for the prep time that UCook indicates…., maybe if you’re a Master Chef contender you could whip it up in the stated 55 minutes. I need 90, at least. The food then takes all of 15 minutes to eat. One sunny afternoon, I’d barely washed up the last lunch pot when one of the kids wanted to know what was for supper…

As for cleaning… the dirt in our home collects as mini tornado-like bundles of dog-hair mixed with dust which our vacuum cleaner simply refuses to suck up. About a decade ago, I was told our vacuum cleaner had packed up and so I ordered a nice compact one, so it didn’t break your back when you moved it around. I recently discovered that this thing is SO loud, when you turn it on it feels as though there’s a working concrete mixer between your ears. If you’re lucky, it might ingest an eyelash and three dust particles. After about five minutes of labour, it simply packs in and refuses to start again (not unlike its owner). I’m told that the gazillion Rand Dyson Cyclone V10 vacuum cleaner is life-changing. But apparently it is not an essential good and thus cannot be procured under Level 5 lockdown conditions.

This brings me to my point: I am now willing to trade my Lightweight, Balanced, Fast Drying, Supersonic Dyson Hairdryer with Built-In Heat Protection, for a vacuum cleaner. In the meantime, we’ll need to make do with the only dustpan and brush set I have been able to find in the entirety of online South Africa in the past three weeks: the Leifheit Surface Cleaning Dust Pan set from Yuppie Chef. I’ve ordered two: one for each child.