Buckingham Palace seeks General Catering Assistant (Wash Up): jump to it, lads, there’s love to be had amid the latherCome on, chaps! Where’s your sense of chivalry? The £14,200-a-year salary may be modest, and the requirement to travel for three months of the year irksome, but the opportunity to do the Queen’s washing-up, flitting between royal residences in pink rubber gloves, is too good to miss. Every unemployed male in Britain should apply to serve their Sovereign in this humble but necessary role.
The official job title is General Catering Assistant (Wash Up), according to the advertisement on the Royal family website, but that does not do justice to the task. Decanters at Buckingham Palace, saucepans at Sandringham, fish knives at Balmoral, a Crown Derby dinner service at Windsor Castle after a state banquet for the President of France…
It will be unglamorous work. If applicants imagine they will be exchanging tittle-tattle with Her Majesty about the 2.30 at Kempton Park, they will be disappointed. They will be toiling in the shadows, like skivvies in Downton Abbey, and their closest brush with greatness might be a fork used by the Duke of Edinburgh to prong a chipolata. But that should not deter men from applying.
As the post is open to both sexes, they will face stiff competition and probably a tough interview, testing their knowledge of soap suds and scouring pads to its limits. But they should not let that discourage them.
For no menial task – not vacuuming, not ironing, not scrubbing the bathroom floor, not putting out the bins – has quite the cachet of washing-up. And it is a man’s job, paradoxically, because it is not generally thought of as a man’s job. The male washer-up explodes social stereotypes to devastating effect.
Ask any woman, and she will tell you that there are few more winning sights than a man in an apron bent over a sink scraping the last spot of grease off a frying-pan. He cuts a heroic figure, with his sleeves rolled up and his forearms glistening with Fairy liquid. Is it any wonder that history fails to record a single known instance of a wife murdering her husband while he was doing the washing-up?
All the evidence points in the opposite direction. Many a romance has blossomed amid dirty crockery, with the air scented with lavender-flavoured washing-up liquid. With the right cast-list, the kitchen sink can be the sexiest setting in the world, pregnant with possibilities.
As I learnt when I was still a love-hungry teenager, nothing is more likely to endear you to the female of the species than the magic words “Can I help with the washing-up?”. Many was the mother of prospective girlfriends whose opinion of me skyrocketed after I put in my 10-minute shift at the sink after a party. My competitors were still slumped on the sofa, comatose, while I won hearts and minds with a simple dishcloth.
It is a practice I have maintained in adulthood, leaving bankers and lawyers trailing in my wake as I bound forward to assist, doted on by appreciative hostesses. The bankers and lawyers think the work is beneath them. They do not understand female psychology.
The fact is that men and women put a different value on domestic chores, as John grey argued in his 1992 bestseller Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, which became a bible of the metrosexual movement.
One of grey’s theories was that couples keep scorecards, awarding each other points, but according to different principles. Thus a man will award himself 20 points for buying a woman an expensive present, but only one point for helping her lift a heavy bag; whereas the woman will give the man the same number of points for each action.
By the same principle, a man offering to do the washing-up, and doing it without breaking anything, will earn more brownie points in 10 minutes than he will score by blowing £500 on jewellery.
Men are always encouraged to do more cooking, and millions rise to the challenge every year. But if they realised the value of washing-up as a life skill, oiling the wheels of family harmony, they would give it priority. It ought to be a GCSE, like operating a washing-machine and remembering to put the loo-seat down.
I do not know who will get the post of General Catering Assistant (Wash Up) at Buckingham Palace. It might be a female applicant who is a wizard with a Brillo pad. But if a man does land the job, he is in for the adventure of a lifetime, an Adonis of the kitchen sink.
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