Hoovering again

Here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago:

OK, I know really the title of this should be ‘vacuuming’, or ‘vacuum cleaning’, and that Hoover is a trade name for a particular domestic machine, but I always refer to the tedious chore as hoovering, never vacuuming, or vaccing…
As far as I can remember we always had a vacuum cleaner at home, whether it was a Hoover, I have no idea; we always had a cylinder cleaner, with a hose, and a long cable, and it would trail round from room to room. We lived in a flat for the first fourteen years of my life, and it was not carpeted; there was lino in the kitchen, bathroom, separate lavatory, and the long L-shaped corridor.
The wooden floors, stained and polished in the sitting room and two bedrooms, had rugs, a big one in the sitting room, reaching to within a foot or eighteen inches of the skirting board, smaller ones beside the beds in the bedrooms. As well as the rug, there was a hearthrug in front of the open fire in the sitting room, to protect the other underneath from spitting coals or embers. There was a craze for rug making in the late fifties and sixties which I believe is called latch hook – I didn’t know that at the time, it was just rug-making to me. Mum (who was very talented and gifted creatively, writing, clothes-making, knitting, baking… so clever!) would buy a kit with a big open-weave canvas, a special bent latch hook tool, and ready cut wool. There were set patterns and she made one for us – but strangely I don’t remember the design, and I have the feeling she also made them for other people, her sisters probably.
Going back to hoovering, in our little flat there wasn’t a lot of hoovering needed, a broom and then a dustpan and brush did for most of the floors – and no doubt a mop and bucket too! we moved to our own house, a three-bedroomed semi-detached, and I can’t really remember the carpets, except we must have had them but I don’t think they were fitted, and would have sat on the floor with the eighteen inches of floorboards, showing around the edges. I don’t think we had a stair-carpet either… a more updated hoover would have been in the house now, still a cylinder one.
We moved again when I was sixteen – my dad’s work moved from Cambridge to Somerset and the house we moved into was carpeted through out except for the dining area which had cork tiles, and the kitchen and bathroom and lavatory which had lino, or whatever th more modern equivalent was. Now hoovering was a big thing, large lounge, corridors, bedrooms, lots to keep clean! By this time we would have had a totally up to date and modern cleaner… we would have had at home, but I had moved out to go to Manchester Polytechnic.
When I went to Manchester there was no accommodation for Poly students and we had to rent bedsits and ‘flats’ – because they were cheap, they were ghastly, smelly and dirty, despite our best eighteen-year olds’ attempts at keeping the places clean. Shared vacuum cleaners with leaking bags, full of vile dust, muck and cigarette ash – everyone smoked and in those sort of places no-one was that bothered where the ash went… Just writing about it brings back the disgusting smell of trying to clean our dingy rooms… Once a friend, reading about how used tea-leaves were spread over carpets in the old days and then swept up with a dustpan and brush, threw tea-leaves all over her bedsit carpet when the communal vacuum broke; they dyed the carpet brown… at least it was a uniform colour even though it might have been no cleaner…
When we eventually moved into our own home, a house, then a flat, then another house… somehow I had moved from cylinder vacuums to upright vacuum cleaners… and this is what we have now. of course cleaning technology is very advanced now, and it’s as easy as anything to whizz around with the hoover… Dyson!


  1. David Lewis

    Vacuum cleaners don’t suck up dust the air pressure pushes it into the partial vacuum by the machine. The best invention was the beater brush that loosened the dirt.

    Liked by 1 person

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