The Housewife’s Trial

An oldie from the 1980s, a decade of Thatcher, Reagan, crap haircuts and appallingly sexist washing powder adverts. They are not exactly bastions of feminism now, but in the 1980s we were subjected to images of women descending into hysterical panic because ‘The dirt says hot but the label says not’ (Ariel), their whites had failed the ‘window test’ (Daz) or were not ‘bluey-white’. So this poem is about a housewife who – quite justifiably in my opinion – takes her revenge on the washing powder salesmen, using various items of launderette equipment, and ends up in court.

Your Honour, I’m only a poor housewife
And the one great joy in my boring life
Is to get my laundry white and clean
The light of my life is my washing machine

So this morning I had a terrible shock
‘Cos the dirt said hot but the label said not
With the stains on his undies and the dirt on his vest
They’ll never pass the window test
It really did come as a terrible fright
I’ll never get them bluey-white
My powder’s so crap I’m sure that it won’t
Shift those stubborn stains that ordinary non-biological powders don’t

Then all of a sudden, to allay my fears
A man in a long white coat appeared
He said ‘It’s new, it’s improved, it’s the best you can buy
It’s fuckin’ amazing, why not give it a try?’
Then more appeared and very soon
Washing powder salesman filled up the room
But under all that pressure my patience SNAPPED
And in the soap powder advert, THE HOUSEWIFE STRIKES BACK!

I attacked ‘em all with piano wire
Put their heads in the machine and their bodies in the drier
I grabbed ‘em by the willies and pulled ‘em through the mangle
I spun ‘em and wrung ‘em until they were strangled
Then I washed ‘em and rinsed ‘em a couple more times
Hung ‘em up by the bollocks from the washing line
I took ‘em down and shook ‘em to get rid of their crinkles
Put ‘em on the ironing board and ironed out their wrinkles

I didn’t mean to kill ‘em – it was out of frustration
I was sick of being subjected to their patronisation
So I stand accused Your Honour of this terrible offence
And the one thing I can say is – it was in self defence!

‘The Housewife’s Trial’ was included on the Neurotics’ 1986 album ‘Kickstarting a Backfiring Nation’; you can listen to it and download it from the usual places where you can listen to and download tracks. Here’s one.

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