Sunday, 6 March 2011

In which I am dashing away with a smoothing iron

I must confess that ironing is not one of my preferred tasks around the home. In fact, I don't think any particular task around the home could ever be described as a preference for me. Had I followed my preferences, I should have been curled up in the armchair with my nose in my latest Trollope trouvaille (Ralph the Heir, should anyone be remotely interested). But duty is duty and a woman's work is never done (nor is a man's, as Mr B is still beavering away at something for his interminable office while I have finished the ironing and am simply enjoying this mild cyber gossip).

There I was, then, dashing away with my smoothing iron and to beguile the tedium, I was listening to Mr Bach's Motets. And with ironing, one's mind does wander - that is both its advantage and disadvantage, an idle mind and busy hands. And I got to thinking about that wonderful composer Mr Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and the rather staggering piece of biographical information that he had 20 (yes, twenty) children by his two wives. Of course any reputable source will inform you that only ten of these survived to adulthood, but still TWENTY CHILDREN! I struggle to keep pace with but two!

I will mention immediately that my knowledge of the domestic style of living of such a man is small, as I have not read any of the biographies, nor am I overly familiar with the period; but I am aware that at this point in time, such a man, genius as he was, was simply regarded as an upper level servant of whichever court or church happened to be his employer. I do not believe he would have been particularly wealthy, though I expect he earned respectably. And my mind wandered into wondering how many woman hours went into the laundering of nappies for 20 children and who on earth actually did it? Someone in the Bach household must have spent years of her life simply laundering nappies.

It puts my current worries as to my temporary career lull somewhat into perspective...

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