Saturday, 15 January 2011

If Only Cruella de Vil Had Hoovered

'If I really want to give myself a treat, I’ll hand wash my woollens before getting out the iron'.

I’d like to say that my favourite cinematic moment comes from an art house film by Werner Herzog, or from a New Wave picture by Truffaut. Alas, despite classing myself as cultured- as in, I’ve been to the ballet and I like Barolo- my Film knowledge is extremely poor.   I’d love to be able to discuss suspense in Hitchcock, Michel Gondry’s manipulation of mise en scène and the problems with Polanski, but I can’t. And as much as I’d like to have this knowledge to hand, I just don’t have the time to learn- after all, I have box sets to watch.

Instead, I admit that my favourite cinematic scene comes from Disney’s 1961 animated classic, One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Cruella de Vil- quellazaire-clad cigarette in hand- breezing into the home of Roger and Anita Radcliff, demanding the puppies and- most importantly- responding to a cordial ‘how are you’ with the immortal line, ‘miserable, darling, as usual. Perfectly wretched’, should go down in history as the greatest film moment ever. Fact.

My opinion is also shaped by my sheer admiration of Cruella de Vil herself. She’s the kind of feisty strong, independent character that shy and retiring indiduals, like me, look up to. I used, however, to see reflections of Cruella in my own behaviour. When stressed, I, too, gesticulated like a mad man, smoked like a chimney and overused the word ‘dahling.’

Luckily, I have found an outlet for my stress and anxiety and, thankfully, it doesn’t involve contorting my body into odd- and let’s face it, frankly unnatural- shapes, having tiny needles inserted into my skin or knocking back herbal supplements. My stress therapy is much simpler: it’s housework.

Now when I feel stressed, I push aside the Marlboro Lights and get out the hoover. If I get panicky, I eschew the Gin and pick up some Pledge. And it really is a win-win situation: I feel calm and I am left with clean floors and shiny surfaces. And if I really want to give myself a treat, I’ll hand wash my woollens before getting out the iron. You’d be amazed at the sheer joie de vivre that one can feel after successfully ironing a pleat.

While I used to think that it would be nice to be a bon viveur, and imagine myself reclining on a divan in a Lord Henry Wotton-esque pose, I think a lot of my stress is derived from guilt of being idle. Housework relieves such guilt and also means that I am occupied and not, therefore, alone with my thoughts. Thus, I can’t help but wonder whether Sebastian Flyte would’ve drunk less if only he’d offered to dust one of nanny’s trinkets, or whether Emma Bovary would’ve left the arsenic on the shelf if only she’d discovered  the soothing fragrances of Bold 2 in 1. And, yes, I wonder whether those puppies would’ve been safer if only Cruella had bought herself a Dyson.

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