Friday, 25 March 2011


"One of our greatest high tech innovators, James Dyson, has urged me to increase the support they get. I have listened to him, and have gone even further than he recommends." Rt hon George Spunkface, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer.


How does he do this, year after year, this vacuum cleaner shit, and not feel embarrassed?

 The Shakers were one of those religious nutter sects which fled England  to found Uncle Sam's lunatic asylum, across the water.  Shaker dwellings, textiles and especially furniture have become stylistically iconographic;  blessed with massive forests of walnut, oak, ash,  cherry and pitch pine the Shaker settlers crafted austere, ultra efficient and durable pieces of furniture which these days change hands for tens of thousands of dollars and their designs  are widely reproduced by craftspersons all around the New and Old worlds. Shaker homes and furniture were a celebration of the covenant which timber represents between man and nature,  a celebration peculiar inasmuch as the Shakers practised celibacy and have now, pedictably, died out.

As well as  repudiating their own reproductive  urges, the Shakers hated dirt.  Around their rooms, at shoulder height,  they fixed pegrails on which they could hang stools and chairs and stuff, 

whilst they swept out the rooms,  chastising their polished floorboards with bezam brooms, brushing living's detritus  straight out the door.  No carpets for them, fuck no.

My Shaker carpet moment came   years ago, long before I knew about Shakerism, when, as a young man, in the kaleidoscopic embrace of lysergic acid dyethelamide,  I dropped on the floor a tiny sliver of cannabis resin with which I was hoping to ape the Saviour on the Mount and build a joint which would stone the five thousand - or at least the handful of people in the room,  it was an  immeasurably small  fragment of dope, its retrieval almost requiring an  entry into the sub-atomic universe.  Down on my knees, I went, fingers carefully parting the aforestation of carpet fibres,  Jesus, there was some horrible stuff  living in there,  all manner of bits of shit and filth, rotting food, dust and vast herds of nasty, dangerous insects, little armour-plated bastards, waving claws and fangs, sawbills and sabretails, snapping and hissing,   multi-legged, with eyes on stalks.   Fucks sake, lads, we're under siege here, get the fucking vacuum cleaner out. After what seemed like centuries of earthquake-noisy hoovering I got down again,  prised the fibres apart again and it was all still there, the snarling carpet universe. I don't  believe I was hallucinating,  you only need to think about carpeting for a moment to get the horrors;   the Japs and the Chinks and the Muslims all take their shoes off indoors but we don't and even if we do just the very construction of carpet, it's woven density, will swiftly make it home to stuff you'd rather not think about, and life being what it is, shit survives, adapts, clings to its environment.

Never been happy with carpets from that day to this and generally manage to  throw the fucking things out and clean  and polish the boards;   twenty coats of varnish'll do the trick,  two or three a day, a light wire wooling and a wipe with white spirit between coats;  a week to empty the room and sand  and stain the floor and a week to varnish it.  And then you can just mop it over with some gentle detergent,  a gleaming,  natural,  vermin-free surface you could eat your dinner off of. For me the fitted carpet is as desireable as the Ahn Sweet bathroom.  A shithouse in the bedroom. Aye, right. Luxury.

And so the vacuum cleaner  strikes me as the most useless, redundant piece of junk you can own.  Even the Kirby one, the one that costs over a grand and is made out of some intergalactic heavy metal that you can't hardly lift, even that one, a thousand horsepower hoover can't clean these little fuckers up.  At least they last a lifetime, though, the Kirbys, don't jam up, chew up their belts, refuse even to do all that whirring and wheezing that the Dysons do.  Just go down any council tip in the country,  the section where they put the tellies and computers and printers and fridgefuckingfreezers that they pretend to recycle and there'll be platoons of those fucking Dyson things, purple and yellow and grey, standing to attention, fucked and useless, clapped-out,  shiny, plastic, planned obsolescence, worn-out, right on schedule; junk,  good for fuck all.

First they sold us, at exorbitant cost - on HP, even -  intrinsically filthy floor coverings  that we didn''t need and then they sold us shitty, noisy bits of junk  to keep them clean, even though they didn't, couldn't;  Hoover beats, as it sweeps, as it cleans.  And now Dyson, having shipped his business out to the Far East, where folks work for fuck all, bombards us,  year after year,  with variations on his pointless, plastic theme. He needs one shoving up his arse.

And Mr George Spunkface, smirking and coughing his way through his non-budget  dragoons this clown, Dyson, to his cause,  as though he was a hybrid of  Michaelangelo and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brilliant inventor, James Dyson, says I should do this or that  and  this or that that is what I am doing. Aren't I clever? And I commend myself to the house.

Trains and boats and planes, we used to make,  from needles in Redditch to ocean liners on the Clyde and everything in-between.  Now, we lionise the City's financial terrorists and govament kowtows to tax-dodging, sweatshopping rag traders at M and S and TopMan.  Seems quite appropriate that Dyson, peddler of worthless, plastic junk, should be whispering in the Chancellor's ear. High-tech innovator, right up there with the large Hadron  particle collider,  that's bagless vacuum cleaning. Dyson, the modern charlady's best friend.


Dick the Prick said...

So you hoovered up the pot? Some advertising cunt is moving back from Dublin to London - yippee fucking do - we're saved!

On the furniture thing though, got a really old oak desk the other day which is rather lovely; seen a bit of action though but jolly nice.

PT Barnum said...

There is such a dissonance between the newest-is-bestest of the Dysons of this world and the veneration of the monetary value of old stuff on Flog Cash in Your Celebrity Attic. Or, actually, no dissonance whatever. Money buys history and trendiness.

Mr DtP, about a year ago I finally achieved my ambition of having a drop-leaf desk. It's a pretty unremarkable 1930s art deco piece, solid oak, and I love it, with all its cubbyholes, tiny drawers and carvings. After so many years of MDF nastiness, I sit at this one and feel like a grown-up.

PT Barnum said...

There is such a dissonance between the newest-is-bestest of the Dysons of this world and the veneration of the monetary value of old stuff on Flog Cash in Your Celebrity Attic. Or, actually, no dissonance whatever. Money buys history and trendiness.

Mr DtP, about a year ago I finally achieved my ambition of having a drop-leaf desk. It's a pretty unremarkable 1930s art deco piece, solid oak, and I love it, with all its cubbyholes, tiny drawers and carvings. After so many years of MDF nastiness, I sit at this one and feel like a grown-up.

Cleaning services Clapham said...

That is quite a story, you've got here.I like the way you describe things! Regards!

Forgotten but not Gone said...

Well, Messrs. Verge, Barnum and Prick, my apologies. I defer to your greater knowledge of Ishmaelia. It is a famine or a feast, and, on this occasion, a feast, I am delighted to observe. A litle akin to the joys of receiving the Sunday paper, made happier yet as both sport and cookery are omitted.
And now, for your next conundrum, gentlemen, where have all the ladies gone? Mrs. Woman on a Raft, Mrs Narcolept, Ms Agatha and Ms Lilith? I am aware that domestic duties are quite onerous at this time of year, but surely they can't all be busy with their Spring cleaning?

mongoose said...

Living as I do in an ancient heap of rubble by the river, it is always damp and full of critters. The carpets were alive with vileness. No dope though. "These days." Years ago I ripped out all the carpet downstairs. We'll have oak fucking floorboards; we are not savages. Mind, Mr Ishmael, oak is my answer to everything down this way. I had ripped all the kitchen out too and the guy helping me said that we should stop the oak just beyond the line of the intended kitchen kickboards. I almost executed the idiot on the spot. Horrible, cheapskate bastard. I'd have never slept again.

Though I am not as attentive or industrious as you and I didn't even want to seal mine. Just leave them beautiful and white. Anyway, the years have come and gone and upstairs is like downstairs now. Like it too in that the damp in the foundationless floor has made the boards look like an ocean as they have warped and moved. Upstairs is the same because the cross-members are the same - bent and worn by the ravages of fuckers with no respect, living in houses as if they had a right to be there. Some arse, might have been my father-in-law, was advising me last Christmas about attending to it and making it all perfect and flat, downstairs anyway. As if, Canute like, the water table would just fuck off and leave us alone - visible as it through any window, and from time to time halfway up the sitting room wall.

The only bit of carpet left in the house is the bit that conceals the hideous, built-by-a-bastard staircase. It is a constant, silent rebuke, a nod to my cowardice, that I dare not take on the building of an oak staircase. 13 steps. How difficult can it be?

As for Dysons - my best mate destroyed his one of the last times we actually did have any dope. We dropped a curry on the kitchen floor and he Dysoned it up. Drugs, eh? Don't tell the kids, for fuck's sake.

call me ishmael said...

It is a fall-front bureau, mr ptb, with integral lopers, emerging from left and right to support the writing surface, the drop-leaf - or gate-leg - construction comes from the realm of dining tables. A nice oak bureau does, indeed, make anybody feel like somebody. You should polish it annually with a good wax paste - Liberon Black Bison Medium Oak is - lacking the solvents of cheaper products - quite hard work but well worth the effort and it perfumes the house as though 'twere Chippendale's workshop. Apply sparingly but uniformly with lint-free cloth, stockingette, muslion is best, leave to dry for half an hour, remove with pads of 0000 wire wool and buff to a sheen, old tee-shirt material is excellent for this purpose; thus do we add value beyond mere purchase and via such care invoke and invest stewardship.

call me ishmael said...

The ladies come and go, mr gbnf, scarce advertising their goodbyes. Ms Lillith travels to the Levant, mrs narcolept negotiates a house full of dismantled motorcycles, Mrs WOAR chides and cudgels the unGodly in her own blog writings and ms agatha leads teams of what Mr Pickles tells us are the new enemy within. And this is just what I have gleaned of their lives from their comments hereabouts. Maybe they have better things to do; maybe, like yourself, and many others, most, they read still, but in silence.

call me ishmael said...

It is not so much the sealing, mr mongoose, as the enhancement of the grain, and the reflection of God's good light.

mrs narcolept said...

Going anywhere, chance would be a fine thing.

I completely agree about carpets, not that they would last long at our house, though one seems to have been put on top of the compost heap for some reason.

"Take tanzy, mint and balm, first sweep the room, then strew the herbs on the floor, and with a long hard brush rub them well all over the boards till you have scrubbed the floor clean. When the boards are quite dry, sweep off the greens and with a dry rubbing brush, dry rub them well, and they will look like mahogany, of a fine brown, and never want other washing. This gives a sweet smell to the room. You may use fennel or any sweet herbs that are green, or what you can get, but tanzy, mint, balm and fennel are the best herbs."

It does not get rid of oil stains though.

PT Barnum said...

Fall-front bureau, that's it! I am obliged for the correction. (I knew drop-leaf was wrong, but the brain's electrical circuits are misfiring this week, deleting words at random in conversations.) And also for the care instructions. Liberon Black Bison Medium Oak it shall be.

Agatha said...

I'm still here, too, Mr. Forgotten but Not Gone, busy with the ironing and other womanly tasks. Just don't get the opportunity to travel to Ishmaelia as often as I'd like, what with the team of Public Enemies to manage. Mustn't complain, though, still got a job (just!).
As for carpets, like Mrs Narcolept, there's one on my compost heap, to keep the rats nice and warm. Also, following the advice of Bob Flowerdew (what a name - do you think he made it up?)to reduce gardening work, I carpeted the paths in my veggie garden. I have subsequently discovered that carpet is a terrific growing medium for weeds. They grow through the carpet into the earth, forming an unassailable weed barrier. Shrubs, that's the way to go. Mr. Tesco sells nice veggies without holes and caterpillar poo.

mongoose said...

Yes, quite, Mr I. "Seal" was the wrong idea. I wanted the boards to breathe. I wanted to use Osma Oil but my supplier guy said that that would colour the wood. I wanted it nice and white so I used one of those polyurethane mixed finishes which I was assured would allow the moisture to get through. I think I was wrong but we will be advised by these people.

About five weeks after I had finished we went on holiday for a three weeks and one of them had left a carrier bag of rhubarb in the middle of the kitchen floor. A great acid burn patch is visible to this day to those of us with the eyes to see it. Ah well. The first mark is a disaster, the thousandth is character.

Mike said...

I have old red ironbark floors and use Tung oil. A sand and a coat every few years, then an annual polish with Feast Watson works perfectly. Carpets seem to rot, but oddly a couple of old Persian rugs will outlast me. As for critters, we have our own varieties, more deadly, here in the antipodes.

Agatha said...

For heavens sake - is there no one now will admit to ownership of a nice bit of Wilton or Axminster? Now that Mr. Ishmael has so forcefully come out against carpet, the industry has had it. It is all over for Kidderminster. What is the consensus on lino?

Woman on a Raft said...

Somewhere round here I've got a couple of glossy pictures of James Dyson's house, specifically the kitchen and the dining room.

His kitchen has an Aga and I've got the vague recollection that the dining room is stripped boards with an oilcloth under the table.

I'm surprised that more oilcloths aren't used in low-traffic areas. I went to a workshop on how to to make them. Essentially, it's just a white ground on a thick canvas, then mock marble painted on top. It's easier than you think and you can use modern emulsion paints, but they are not all that durable.

As for lino; it depends whether you mean the product based on oil and sawdust, or vinyl, based on plastics. Actually, I like both, but I've not had much chance to use modern lino. In general I prefer sheet vinyl to the board and click floorings.

Re: where am I - I'm still here. It's just that sometimes I have useful references to pass on and other times I can add nothing but a clap and a whistle.

a young Anglo-Irish catholic said...

By god, Mr I, I'm in agreement with all this. Dyson, carpets, Shaker.

I chucked them from my pad, wooden floors all round, though my proximity to sea level down here by Latchmere, means the ground floor is going through one of its periodic mexican waves.

You only have to see what's deposited in a week on wooden floor to see what's buried deep in the shag.

Dyson's stuff is still being shaped in the mannered primary colour post-modernism that was popular on the product design courses of the mid-80s.

That and the fact that his stuff was/is so crappy, that the company now has teams of vans, all the better to pop around and re-build your ailing machine.

Dysons are - I speak as a sometime product designer - overdone, overworked and over complex. The bogus sci-fi styling on the lid of the handheld Dyson is deeply offensive. Bladerunner gone mad.

I read his autobiog which insists that we should be much more organised in the UK when it comes to innovation and productionisation. This from a man who built 5000 prototypes of his bloody vortex machine in his shed, while running up catastrophic debts. You have to be an old-school toff to take such risks.

And he'll only hires RCA graduates, the toffy nosed bugger.

call me ishmael said...

It is one of those oddities of British life, isn't it - the clever architects who shoved people up into open prison cellblocks in the skies, lived, themselves, in rural Georgian rectories, as I do, with distant neighbours and walled gardens, meantime extolling the virtues of rat-run, tower block living; the head of one of the large credit card companies advised his children never to own one, insisting to the rest of us that life without 30% pa credit was impossible, in fact that debt is a patriotic duty; successive govaments have urged us to both save every penny for our dotage and spend every penny on tat in order to fund what they call Growth. The Dyson post, as mrs woar points out, was a tilt not just at the redundancy and superficiality of his one-trick-pony product but at the hypocrisy of those who flog us rubbish to which they wouldn't give houseroom; the great smoking cessation therapist, God bless him, Allan Carr, boasted wryly that his Swiss clinic was often patronised by executives from Phillip Morris and other tobacco corporations, anxious to be free of the addiction they peddled, with the help of our Lord Chancellor, Clarky, to children in what we call the Third World.

The number of respiratory allergies which could be attributed to our national fetish for Ms Agatha's bit of Wilton or Axminster is unknown but I suspect - and have some experience which confirms- that people are much better off without wall-to-wall carpets, that a floor which can be swept and mopped is infinitely preferable, aesthetically and hygienically, to one which demands one of Mr Dyson's shitty products and that a true innovator would recognise this fact and promote awareness of it.

The Coalition's courting of rich but inconsequential people like Dyson mirrors NewLabour's flirtation with the personnel firstly of what it called Cool Britannia, and then with the global, gangster oligarchy - worthless, grubby, airhead nobodies, seeking to bask in Celebrity's reflected limelight. Wouldn't be so bad if Ecclestone and the Hindujahs and Mittal and now Dyson had actually done something more worthwhile than just making or stealing money. Any fool can do that.

a young Anglo-Irish catholic said...

It is all too true about the architects. I am soon to be unrelated to a number of the pillocks.

I say judge an architect by the view from his sitting room window. Foster looks across at low-rise Dutch-influence Chelsea Embankment.

Roger - the arsehole - has a townhouse off the Kings Road which overlooks parkland and Wren's Chelsea Hospital. Indeed, I think the only modern movement building seen from his gaff are the towers of Battersea Power station.

In 2009- in the midst of the Chelsea Barracks row - I had to tell her-no-longer-indoors where Rogers lived. She passed it on to the Clarence House press office who got it into a Charlie speech.

'The other day an architect friend of mine asked “How many Pritzker Prizewinners are not living in beautiful Classical Homes?”; and we all know what he was getting at.'

It is astonishing that, considering his fights with the Tower Blockists, Chazzer and his staff never thought to ask where Rogers lived.

call me ishmael said...

Didn't His Royal Highness, Prince Fuckpig, champion Rogers to some of his despotic, head-chopping, wimmen-stoning fellow royals out in the desert somewhere, and get him some lucrative business?

lilith said...

Agatha, we have Axminster on the the stairs, because you can't see the dog hair for two or three days. The only downside is that the place looks like the sort of b&b that has orange bri nylon sheets. If I had the chance to build my own place I would have mud floors, as they would gradually become fabulously felted.

subrosa said...

Give me my carpets and Dyson any day. Wooden floors? Been there, done that, even remember the exorbitant heating bills- and that's when gas was much cheaper than nowadays.

I wonder if you've ever taken a microscope to your mattress Ismael? Only asking. A good steam clean and a run over with a Dyson should sort it out though. :)

Stanislaus' Missus said...

Weel, Mr. Forgotten,
Thanks to you fer smoking out yer wee "ladies". Now would you roust out Stanislaus? The wee young de'il hasna bin seen since a good whylie back and the rubbish needs takin' oot an there's taps leakin' an the toilet's nae flushin', do yer ken?

Agatha said...

We seem to be getting onto the subject of Spring Cleaning, as mentioned by Mr. FBNG. It used to be a big production back in the Victorian day and, now I'm old and notice the dirt, unlike in my giddy days of wine and roses, I understand what the Spring Cleaning is. It is Important. It is a ritual cleansing. Houses get dead mucky in the winter, what with everyone being inside, dogs included, and the coal fires, and, if unfortunate enough to have a smoker in the family, all the tobacco detritus on the windows and ceilings. Spring Cleaning turns the house inside out, lets the March breezes in, takes the heavy curtains down, carefully cleans them and stores them away for the autumn, washes the windows and paintwork, puts up the lightweight summer curtains, empties and cleans the grates and fills the empty fireplaces with hyacinths and daffodils, takes off the winter loosecovers and replaces them with the bright, clean, summer stripes, launders the bedding, vacuums the mattress with the Dyson, cleans and puts away the heavy winter clothing and fills the wardrobes with summer frocks, linen jackets and espadrilles, cleans the grease and smoke and steam from the kitchen walls and windows and ceilings, puts away the roasting pans and gets out the salad spinners, cleans out the sheds, washes the flowerpots and fills them with fresh compost and seeds from Lidls (much the cheapest), and, as for the floor coverings.....
Now, that's how life should be lived. Alas, I have not the strength, time or energy to do all this for myself, on account of managing the team of Public Enemies and being old. And I can't afford to hire some cleaners, on account of the measured and controlled response of our Government to the international financial crisis, which, of course, was not of their making. Therefore, Mr. Forgotten,I shall go, tsk, tsk, when the dirt catches my eye, and get on with my story book.
Oh, Lilith, my friend has just bought a fabulous device, which might assist you with your dog hair issues. She has an ancient German Shepherd, which lumbered around in a cloud of floating dog hair until she bought a vacuum cleaner attachment. It's a clever little brush, a bit like a kitty slicker, which you attach to the hose attachment of your vacuum, brush the dog, retract the bristles, and the hair is sucked into the machine. The dog loves it - you can tell, because he gets his lipstick out, and he looks terrific, lean, clean, and no floaty dog-hair aura.

lilith said...

Wow, Agatha, that could be the very thing!

call me ishmael said...

Don't start me on mattresses, ms subrosa, if it was my choice I'd sleep on the floor, a wooden one.