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Hoovergate – the rebuttal amid hope of Labour win

Posted on 2 March 2010 | 1:03pm

I find myself once again in the position of having to rebut the accusations of my partner. No, this is not some kind of John Terry/Wayne Bridge drama about to unfold before your eyes, but a response to the sheeer volume of items on twitter re my domestic uselessness.

Not satisfied with revealing said DU in her book about working wimmin, Fiona has now gone and done a piece for the Radio Times on the same theme, reciting old stories about me refusing to mow lawns and not knowing how to cook – all true – amid a ‘new one’ about my deliberate breaking of a Hoover so that she never again asked me to clean.

I know memory plays tricks on people, and this Hoovergate incident took place almost 30 years ago. But I did NOT repeat NOT break the Hoover deliberately, as claimed by her. It genuinely broke down all on its own, on the one occasion when I was using it. There, that is my defence. The fact that she decided to see it as a deliberate act, one which made her decide never to ask me to clean again, is just a small bonus for me, which has served me well for 30 non-dusting, non-Hoovering years.

I am not proud of my DU, and I confess to feeling I may have set a bad example to our sons in particular. But the fact that our daughter seems more naturally disposed to helping Fiona around the house suggests, does it not, a genetic divide overlooked in her otherwise excellent book. (And before the angry comments come in … tongue is moderately in cheek here)

I have just had a meeting in the Wolseley in central London and was made aware of my domestic failings by, variously, readers of The Guardian, The Telegraph and a few online junkies, so I decided the rebuttal had to be instant. I’m now off to meet Nancy for a cup of tea. What do you mean which Nancy? There is only one Nancy. And like so many other people, she is telling me the mood has changed and Labour can win a fourth term. Plenty said the same at The Wolseley.

‘Not been so excited in years,’ one guy said to me. I said if we won I would be so happy I would Hoover the whole house, and make sure I didn’t break the damned thing.

** Looking forward to performing with Elvis at Thameside Theatre in Grays tonight. Elvis impersonators for Labour … the mood is good.

*** Buy The Blair Years here and raise cash for Labour

  • Quietzapple

    I trust you’ve not missed the trick of iron/burning her going away blouse . . ?

    Oh, not Married, of course, more scope if you are.

  • gary Enefer

    Dear Alastair
    This was an opportunity to ‘come clean’!Don’t you know that you cannot win?!

  • olli issakainen

    After the latest sensational revelations about your hoovering skills etc. in the Guardian by your “girlfriend” Fiona Millar, I think it is time for you – no, not to call Max Clifford to tell your side of this bombshell story – but to write that cookery book. You should also go to Tesco to do the shopping – but not in pyjamas!
    Or is this whole Hoovergate business just a Tory plot to divert the attention from the fact that they have nothing to say?

    Ps. A new slogan for salesman Dave: “Let´s Buy It From Belize”.

  • Robert

    As someone responsible for the hoovering (and other “domestic” duties) I have a great deal of sympathy with both you AND Fiona.

    And thanks for the book, incidentally. It’s on my shelf between Michael Foot’s Aneurin Bevan and The Hunting Of The President. All of great interest at this time.

  • Em

    Tongue in cheek or not Alastair, younger generations of men who “don’t do” housework will either have to tackle a steep learning curve or find themselves quite lonely. For some, making a lot of money and having an army of servs will be their only recourse.

    You broke the hoover THIRTY YEARS AGO? Wow. It’s true. Wimmin never forget.

    And as far as hoovering the entire house: we want photos!

  • Jacquie R

    Come on Alastair, you ARE proud of your DU – in an alpha male sort of way. And don’t you and Fiona employ other people to garden and clean?

    Congratulations on using your blog to simultaneously proclaim the turning tide for Labour while plugging your partner’s new book. The Hoover connection is quite subtle, in a tongue in cheek way. Having got that off my chest, I intend to buy Fiona’s book because she speaks a lot of sense.

  • Leo

    Currency markets gave us a taste yesterday of what would happen to sterling if Labour win a fourth term as the pound weakened the most in over a year. It certainly looks as if confidence amongst the UK electorate has grown in Brown and diminished in Cameron hence yesterday’s sterling weakness. Amongst financial market participants there is increasing conviction the UK economy looks especially vulnerable. Whilst Cameron is unproven, Brown is viewed as the architect of UK’s economic weakness relative to most of the developed world. If he remains as PM expect the IMF ultimately to have to step-in and impose austerity conditions to loans or guarantees required to shore up the UK. You’ll need more than a Hoover to clean up the mess.

  • Brian Hughes

    Since being thrown onto the scrapheap by a heartless employer* I have rediscovered the joys of hoovering and have even moved on to some more complex des tâches ménagères.

    Like mowing, which I’ve enjoyed for donkeys’ years, they provide opportunities to let the mind wander free whilst engaged in a repetitive task that needs some skill. Many of my “best” blog posts and letters to various editors were composed whilst so occupied. The difficult part is retaining them until you find a keyboard.

    If you can drag yourself away from p11 of the Guardian to the same page in its G2 supplement, you’ll find the splendid news that engaging in political activism makes people happy. There’s a report from some academics so it must be true…

    * or being lucky enough to be given early retirement and a pension – it’s a mood dependant choice.

  • Patrick James

    I’ve had a long history of DU but in the last few years I have been improving immensely.

    A few years ago I had the good fortune to be able to buy a house with a garden. This has meant that I’ve had to get into gardening. I never realised how really lovely gardening is until I’ve started doing it. Although I’m very bad at it and I apologise to my plants for my many mistakes I’ve found gardening does bring a great peace of mind.

    Gardening also empowers you to do other stuff in the house. All that boring stuff like the dishes and even the vacuuming.

  • Brian Hughes

    PS Leo’s mistaken in his comment. The sterling market was jittery on the prospect of a hung parliament not on that of a Labour victory. Market makers generally hate uncertainty and they probably dread the prospect of Mr Clegg being anywhere near the levers of power…

  • Jacquie R

    Correction and apologies. It’s the TV programme that’s new, not Fiona’s book(as I’d said earlier). Incidentally, my husband’s excuse for never doing any Hoovering is to say “it doesn’t need it”. I’m the one who breaks the Hoover in this household, by giving it a bloody good kicking!

  • Alan Quinn

    You’re lucky Ally because you are an academic and therefore hopeless with your hands. I unfortunately being an engineer can repair vacuum cleaners. So it would be a waste of time for me to sabotage the vac as I’d have extra work in patching it up.
    I’m also able to repair lawn mowers whichis handy because my kids leave their crap all over the garden which inevitably finds its way under the Flymo espiecially when we have a Mancunian summer and can’t mow the grass for ages.
    So thank your lucky stars you’re an academic and pity us poor underpaid but highly skilled engineers.

  • Colin Morley

    Very amusing blog today, Alastair. Refreshing change from all the election hype. By the way, who made the tea,you or Nancy – or is that a stupid question!

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire

    Sunday on Radio Four, it was a rare treat listening to dear Fiona (Millar) roundly criticising you, not only for your lack of home domesticity, but even in the garden, too – apparently, you’re not exactly Alan Titchmarsh personified there, either, are you?

    Poor Fiona, I just felt I should’ve travelled direct to Hampstead – complete with household gadgets – so that I could Flymo the Campbells’ hallway carpet, then trundle out into the garden and Dyson their Gospel Oak lawns, corner to corner, for them. It would have seemed the least I do, sorry

    Domesticated Boy, TM —

  • Patrick O\’Gara

    Chin up Ally.
    Despite all the traducing of the jackal press, your loyal fans know that your skill with IDU’s (Implements of Domestic Uselessness) is – beyond all doubt – fully the equal of that with WMD’s.