Chris Sutcliff

Artist Man I am

Archive for July, 2010

14th Jul 2010

One Hundred Days Of Freedom.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Nelson Mandela

“What I like doing best is Nothing. It’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, “What are you going to do?” and you say “Oh, Nothing,” and then you go and do it. Doing Nothing means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear,

and not bothering.”

Winnie The Pooh

During this blog, there will be two opportunities for you to take your iron and ironing board out into the street and set fire to them. The first opportunity is now. Go. I’ll explain why in a moment.

Know that I am a lazy man. When I say ‘lazy’ I mean that I have an aversion to non-beneficial work, I have no requirement to be doing things to justify my existence. And I watch people. I watch BUSY people dutifully cram their every waking moment with a thousand menial tasks while I enjoy doing nothing in particular and I wonder which of us is right. From where I am sitting, it looks as though busy people are just poor souls that lack the imagination to stop being so bloody busy. (By the way, if this already sounds like you then answer me this, who the hell gave you ALL that shit to do? Take a break man, look out the window, notice the world hasn’t stopped turning just because you enjoyed life for a minute instead of toiling yourself into dust). A lot of the tasks that busy people do seem to be entirely devoid of purpose. Work for work’s sake. Chief among all pointless distractions is the time-eating absurdity that is ironing ones clothing.

The average person spends 55 minutes per week doing the ironing. That’s 47.6 hours per year. If you live as long as 65 and start ironing in your teens you’ll clock up around 100 days of ironing in your life. Your one life. Your only shot at existence on the only planet you’ll ever know.

Ever stop to think why you’re doing it? Because you want to appear smart? OK, that’s a reasonable answer; I’ll come back to that later. Luckily I am lazy and have plenty of time to ponder things like this so that you don’t have to. Here’s what I think:-

You could argue that ironing is one of the myriad human activities that mark a ‘civilised’ society, by which I mean it’s something we collectively perpetuate and so collectively support its value – This is important for several reasons.

  1. It means you already know that if no one else was doing it then you wouldn’t bother to do it either.
  2. ‘Civilised’ societies have the capacity to help the less fortunate but choose not to. Which means they are selfish. A difficult trait to find any merit in whatsoever. This makes me uneasy about being ‘civilised’ and hesitant about copying the actions of that society.
  3. ‘Backward’ or ‘uncivilised’ societies tend to place value on things like Family, Friendship, Love and the Land – never appearances, for appearances are paper thin. If a person is a bit of a dick then it won’t take long for people to figure that out and no amount of ironed clothes will save them. You cannot polish a turd.

We seem to be in danger of deluding ourselves that looking ones best is the same as being ones best. It isn’t. This is an unhealthy symptom of narcissism that dampens the spirit of altruism and I despise it. Your need for an image is your ego’s need for a physicality – remember that next time you’re in Top-Shop.

Let’s look at the two biggest appropriators of a world in which clothes magically take on more significance when they are hot and flat, the first of which is the Military. The Military are especially important here because they use ironing as a tool to destroy any unwanted defiance in their recruits. It is administered as a punishment and a way of maintaining control, of quashing the spirit of the individual. Paradoxically it is then used to create a sense of smart-new-self, of acceptance into the pack, which is then richly rewarded instilling pride and feelings of achievement, serving the purpose of making a soldier accept punishment with pride as he can no longer distinguish between the two – all things which make me nauseous and should put ironing in a sinister light. My Father is ex-Navy and learnt to iron with them. When he does the ironing at home he includes socks and tea-towels. I’ll run that one by you again in case you read it quickly without taking it in – A man in his 60’s who is intelligent and witty and has had some very important jobs, irons socks and tea towels. No matter how creased, socks immediately become foot shaped when you wear them, then you hide them in a shoe. Also what has your world come to when you feel it necessary to impress people with the appearance of your tea towels? This point alone should show you that indoctrinated ironing is a lunacy that extends beyond obsessive compulsive disorder, and that at least half of your washing pile has no right to be ironed.

The second of the two principle perpetrators is the world of corporate business; and it is here where we again strike at the very root of why you iron clothes in the first place – the perception of appearances. For at least one thousand years, clothes ironed flat have been a way of improving ones appearance so as to separate ones self from the dishevelled masses of the not-so-ironed. It was developed by the Chinese, a race whose class hierarchy is so demented that people die to uphold it, and for whom making a cup of tea involves a three hour ceremony – making them the most efficient time wasters in the world. So, pressed clothes are a means to simulate class and status and the corporate world has embraced and expanded this idea to include professionalism. A pressed suit gives the “effect” of the “representation” of reliability and business acumen.

Is it me or does that become obviously bollocks when it’s written down like that?

I have met some of the most immaculately dressed tossers in the world and I learnt very quickly not to judge by appearances. Even kids know this. I am regularly astonished to see people actually get impressed by a well ironed shirt and therefore taken in by the bullshit that hides behind it.

Here is a meeting of two potential business partners:-

Suit One: “I see you have taken the time to iron your shirt.”

Suit Two: “I see you have done the same.”

Suit One: “When I discovered that you had bankrupted four companies and had stolen from all your previous business partners I was worried there may be some issues concerning trust, but then I saw your professional ironed shirt and I see now that I was wrong to let facts get in the way of my faculty for decision making, when all I needed was blind faith in a flat material.”

Suit Two: “Quite.”

Suit One: “Let’s touch cocks.”

Little Red Riding Hood: “Why Grandma, what a crease-free nightie you have on.”

Wolf: “All the better to deceive you with, my dear.”

Outside of the Military and the image crazed corporations are the ordinary folk in the street. Remember when you said you ironed so you could look smart? Well let’s question that a little bit further now. Are you really so bothered about what other people think of your appearance that you want to squander hours of your precious life pandering to their (totally unquantifiable) opinions? Do you actually walk down the street thinking everyone is admiring your flat clothes? Well, they aren’t. If anything they just think you’re the person who was in front of them in the queue at Greggs and they don’t give a shit whether you’ve ironed or not. If you stop viewing life as a hollow fashion parade then you’ll stop endlessly trying to appeal to judges who AREN’T THERE. You wear clothes so you don’t die of exposure. End. You cannot be marginalised by them. The only thing your clothes should say about you is that you’re at the mercy of weather conditions and when you are stuck for something to piss away your hard earned cash on you don’t mind paying for a fashion designer to scrawl something on your t-shirt. Unless you buy your t-shirts from large high street shops like Burtons – whose T-shirt rack was hand picked by a blind donkey and is so crammed with clashing designs they are basically saying to you “We haven’t got a fucking clue what’s cool anymore, just buy something and hope for the best”.

When I see people in their homes unthinkingly ironing a mountain of clothes (including undergarments that never even get seen) on summer days I weep for them. I weep for their children who see this behaviour, assume it to be the norm and ready themselves for the day they’ll inherit the same ball and chain. I weep for the iron manufacturers whose very existence unwittingly binds us into a voluntary enslavement and anxiety that we can never be as well presented as we should be. When people say to me “I spent nearly two hours ironing yesterday” I feel like saying “Wow, you sure know how to squeeze the most out of your weekend, I wasted two hours yesterday doing drugs and fucking hookers in the endless sunshine, what an idiot, if only I’d had the foresight to get on top of making my clothes hot and flat instead”.

If I was king of the world I’d ban ironing immediately, I’d eradicate it from the history books. We’d live in a place where all clothes were creased simply because they were made from creasy material and it meant nothing more than that. Business men would have to rely on strength of character in order to gauge someone’s strength of character. The Military would have to come up with different means of psychological bullying (no problem there) and rely on their integrity in order to portray the pretence of their integrity. People in the street would have to get to know you in order to judge you. My father would be free. Most important of all, I’d give you your 100 days back in order to spend time with your loved ones. Or just doing nothing with me.

Always be wary about devoting your time to things you haven’t fully thought through. Was I talking about more than just housework here? You bet your ass I was.

If you were one of the people who didn’t set fire to their iron at the start of this blog, this is the second opportunity to do it.

Unless you ENJOY ironing, in which case knock yourselves out you weirdos.

by Chris
Posted in Words | 10 Comments »