Emptying the dishwasher

 I wonder what I will do today – besides emptying the dishwasher and re-filling it? Perhaps I will clean the dirt from the rubber seal on the washing machine because it has left marks on the sheets and now the sheets must be washed again. Yes, I think I will do this. I will also prepare soup for our lunch and wash yesterday’s dirty pans and empty out the rubbish bins again, as I did yesterday and the day before. Like yesterday, I will also open the curtains when it is light and close them at dusk. The rest of the day is, at present, a blank and anything may happen – another molehill may appear on the lawn, the owl may call from the oak tree at the front of the house, someone may send me a letter. All these things may happen today, or may not. One thing is certain, however – certainly it is as certain as certain is – I will empty the dishwasher and re-fill it.


This house is scattered with papers, books and cushions, and pulses with the murmurings of a foreign tongue, the hiss of a cat, the bark of a dog. The second house is dustless and paperless, without books or cats or signs of life – the sofa as new as it was in the shop – not a stain, a cat’s hair or a pulled thread anywhere, not a speck of dust, not even the sound of a floorboard creaking somewhere. Even the garden is ordered, the grass cut short, the topiary as sleek as the cats that leave their hairs on the chairs and sofas of the first house, the cats that stretch, call and purr. No cats purr in the ordered house. No dog snaps at wasps. Nothing moves. There are no undulations, scatterings or callings, and, outside in the topiary, the wind is silent.

Wanted – a house

I thought I wanted a new house, perhaps with roses round the door and a thatched roof or perhaps not, perhaps a weather-boarded house by the sea or not that maybe something modern with light spilling in or maybe an eccentric building of corners and strange edges and weather-vanes or no, perhaps a slate-roofed farmhouse with an open fire or even a small apartment with high ceilings and bright tribal rugs or maybe nothing at all, only the grass under my feet.

 How can a house?

It seems incredible that a house can own so many odd socks – woolly, striped, coloured, long, short, soft, thick, starry, idiotic, holey, dark, and even a sock with a picture of Gnasher on its side. It is also incredible that such a house can own so many creatures – some of these creatures are also woolly, striped, coloured, long, short, soft or thick, though none are starry. These creatures crawl, fly, scuttle and creep, but most are small, much smaller than any sock. There is also a dog, a cat, a rabbit and a mouse in this house, but no horse.  


How is it that this person’s house is dustless, without spiders hiding in corners, without papers on the floor, and pans in the sink? But mischievous elves inhabit my house. This is my problem. They delight in throwing crumbs in the kitchen, spilling drinks on the carpet, leaving books strewn across my room. They blow leaves into the hallway and stamp coffee rings on the table. But as they’re here to stay, I may as well make them welcome.


No one is awake here and the stairs creak and groan like a woman in labour. No one is awake and the windows are dark. Now the bin men arrive clinking bottles, breaking the silence and a light comes on in a nearby house. But no one is awake here in this house. No one moves. Only myself on the creaking stairs.


Every house has its own smell; its own particularities. One smells of scented candles, another of boiled cabbage; one smells of fabric conditioners, another of burned porridge and cigarettes smoke; another of damp walls and old dogs. Some houses gather cobwebs and dust; others toast crumbs, couscous grains and uncooked rice. Still others gather families of mice, rats and even squirrels. However, no house, however dustless and cleaned, cannot find room for tiny mites that cannot be seen with the naked eye. These mites resemble great beasts. Except they are not great beasts but are very small and live in all our houses – even if we would rather ignore them and not invite them for dinner.



The home of writer Bronwen Griffiths