I is for Ironing

After 11 years, 5 countries, countless houses, apartments and a brief stint under a bridge, I’ve returned to the one place everyone fears – Mammy and Daddy’s house.

It’s a difficult adjustment. They do things their way. I do things my way. We need to learn to respect each other. But if there’s one thing I hate (I hate loads of stuff)…. it’s ironing. Ironing is frankly the most pointless and annoying activity ever. What is the purpose of ironing a towel or a sock? How does this enhance anyone’s life or make the world a better place? It’s basically like painting the grass or polishing the trees.

My mother (an absolute legend and the source of all my inspiration and mental disorders) doesn’t seem to agree. To her, ironing is like praying or breathing. It’s an essential part of living. In fact, the entire clothes washing system, drying, folding, washing, is something of spiritual experience for my mother.

My brother – Here’s your trousers. They were in my room.

Me – Oh, great. I was wondering where those were. I needed them for work.

My brother – She keeps putting your clothes in my room. I couldn’t find my shirt the other week. It was in your wardrobe.

Me – I found a bra in there. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.


Later that day.

Mother – There are dirty socks on the floor in your room.

Me – Right.

Mother – Can you put them in the washing machine? I’m starting a wash.

Me – I’m running out the door. I have to go.

Mother – Well, I’m not doing it. You can do it yourself. I’m sick of washing.

Me – OK, sure.

Mother – I’m not your slave. I’m not going to go around your room picking up your dirty washing.

Me – I don’t expect you to. I’ll do it.

Mother – It’s absolutely disgusting.

Me – It really isn’t Mum. It’s a sock. A big shit in the middle of the floor is disgusting. This is just a little untidy. I’ll sort it out later.

Mother – I’m not your cleaner.


Later that day. I return home and notice that a lot of clean clothes that were lying on the end of my bed have magically ended up back in the washing machine. My mother is ironing.

Me – Mum, you’re re-washing clothes. You took a load of clothes off my bed that were clean and they’re in the machine.

Mother – Oh, right. Well……… OK…….. sorry.

Me – It’s fine. But you complain about washing them and I tell you not to do it, and then you do it twice. It doesn’t make sense.

Mother – There was a smell off them.

Me – There wasn’t.

Mother – There was.

Me – You, literally, just made that up. Mum, I’ll do my own washing.

Mother – Then do it. Don’t leave them on the floor.

Me – I’m not having an argument about a sock. I just can’t.

Mother – I had friends in the house today. What will they think?

Me – Why would your friends be in my bedroom? Isn’t that a bit weird? Don’t you think it’s a bit odd, if I came home and found a lot of old women in my bedroom looking disapprovingly at a sock on the floor?

Mother – They could look in the window. It looks messy. It’s my house and it needs to be clean.

Me – You’re ridiculous. Just don’t worry about my clothes. I can do it.

Mother – Fine. And you can do your own ironing too. You don’t even know how to iron.

Me – No one knows how to iron. It’s a completely outdated activity like sword-fighting. You don’t need to use an iron. Normal people don’t iron. 

Mother – Ironing is important.

Me – Democracy is important. Economics is important. Equality is important. Ironing. Ironing is not important. It’s utterly useless.

Mother – People will laugh at you if your trousers have creases in them.

Me – People do laugh at me. Not for that reason, however. 

Mother – That reminds me, did anyone say anything about skin and all your spots.

Me – No.

Mother – No one noticed it, did they?

Me – No. Don’t change the subject. Please let me do my own washing. I’ve been doing it for 10 years without you. I didn’t live in London and walk around naked.

Mother – Jesus, I hope not. No one wants to see that.

Me – No more ironing. It’s pointless.

Mother – Fine. You can do it yourself.

Me – Thank you. Now look, I bought you chocolate.

Mother – I don’t want chocolate. I’m trying to be good.


There’s a half eaten bar of chocolate on the table. But I choose to say nothing, because I’m such a nice person. The following day, I was woken up by what can only be described as the sound of a grizzly bear driving a forklift into a wall. My mother at 8.00 am is quite possibly the loudest living creature on God’s Earth.

Mother (barges into my room) – Morning. It’s a beautiful day. I’m just gonna take your washing.

Me – What, why? Go away. I’m sleeping.

Mother – I’m going to buy you some clothes. All these clothes are awful. You look cheap. You need nice stuff…. up a nice wardrobe. Look at this. This is awful. I’m going to throw this t-shirt out.

Me – Mum, I’m sleeping. Get out. Don’t go through my clothes. And please don’t throw out my clothes.

Mother – It’s the nicest day that ever came. I’m putting on a wash, so I can hang out the clothes early.

Me – It’s 8 in the morning. Why are you in my life?

Mother – Shane, where did you get these socks with the naked woman? That’s disgusting.

Me – Present.

Mother – Don’t your friends know you don’t like looking at women? My God.

Me (with a pillow over my head)….Argh… It’s too early for this. We talked about this yesterday.

Mother – Yeah. But it’s a lovely day.


3 hours later, I wake up. My clothes are hanging on the washing line.

Mother – I’m going out. If the phone rings, answer it.

Me – If I’m thirsty, drink water.

Mother – What?

Me – Nothing.

Mother – And bring in the clothes and air them.

OK. Airing is a marvelous invention. For most people washing clothes involves putting them into a washing machine, taking them out, hanging them and putting them away. My mother has made up a whole new extra process calling airing. I do believe that no one else in the history of human civilization does this except my mother. Airing involves taking the clothes off the washing line, folding them and then putting them into a cold dark cupboard for several hours for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Mother considers it a vital part of the process and does it on a daily basis.

Me – I’m not airing clothes. Nature does that perfectly fine. It’s a useless activity.

Mother – Oh, everything is a useless activity to you. I’m surprised you can even fart.


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