Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Slapdash Inheritance - Guest Post!

Hello my homegirls and boys.

Do I have a treat for you!!!

You may have read my recent post about  the Slapdash Ideology. If not, why not?? Call yourselves fans.  Do yourselves a favour and read it NOW.  It was received well by the critics if I do say so myself.

Anyway, further to this dissertation, I thought I'd ask my mother, my mentor, to elaborate on the history of the Slapdash method.

So here she is, the woman herself, the very person from whose loins I sprang all those 21 (ahem) years ago.

Generations of corner cutting.

Take it away Slapdash Nanny...

As a parent, few things are more gratifying than realising that your beloved child has decided to embrace her heritage and follow in your footsteps. Young Hugo announces that he is going to join Daddy in the family law firm. Persephone wants to be first violin, just like Mummy. Little George W is going to be leader of the Free World.

So imagine my pride when my dear daughter began writing this blog and celebrating the family heritage of slapdashery. Oh, the warm inner glow.

The tradition of slapdashery in our family is a proud one. Certainly, my mum (Slapdash Great-Nana?) was a great exponent, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the trait dated right back to our bog-trotting Irish ancestors.

I first heard the term applied to Mum by her elder sister, Mary Magdalene. (I know! We thought it was silly too. So we called her Aunty Mamie.) Mum was a passionate amateur dressmaker and clothed female members of the family in stylish frocks for almost her whole life. She had a great eye for colour and design, she loved fashion and she had been honing her skills since she was about twelve. She was terrific. What she wasn’t, however, was pernickety. She never basted. She rarely pinned. Make fussy markings on the fabric with dressmakers’ chalk? Phooey! In fact, she epitomised the bull-at-a-gate approach to dressmaking. The end product would be fabulous but the journey could be extremely circuitous and fraught with wrong turns and stuff-ups. The little understanding I have of dressmaking I gained as quite a small girl, laboriously unpicking Mum’s mistakes.

Aunty Mamie, on the other hand, had been a professional dressmaker all her life. She was pernickety. She was also an Eldest Sister and I’m sure you know what that means. I was present at a conversation where Mamie informed her much younger sister that she could have been quite a good dressmaker, “if only you weren’t so slapdash”.

Ah-hah! Slapdash! That’s it! From that day I embraced Slapdash as my motto.

The thing is, some people seem to see the term slapdash as pejorative. Not me. Slapdash people get things done. Slapdashery means you know what’s important and what can be kicked under the rug. Slapdash works!

Like my daughter, I was a slapdash mother. Sarah has already revealed that I made her exactly the same pink heart-shaped birthday cake every year. This at a time when the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book ruled and serious birthday cake competition was rife – much like the present, in fact. I refused to participate. And the thing is, Sarah loved those cakes! All her friends loved the cakes. She would have been sad if I’d changed the cake.

So great was the success of the pink heart cakes that, for her brother C’s first few birthdays, I made him identical cakes, but (here’s the clever bit) blue! Later, though, it was suggested to me that a love-heart cake might make him the subject of mockery amongst his little macho mates so I changed to a round clown-face cake and then that was his staple for the rest of his childhood. Easy and effective. Slapdash and good.

I was also a slapdash housekeeper. In my youth, it was fashionable for young mothers to say righteously “I don’t care whether the house is tidy as long as it’s clean”. Were they kidding? Untidy shows! Untidy looks sad and unhomely. Dirty is so easy to hide! What right-thinking person will notice sticky patches on the floor or fingerprints on the walls if the toys have been hidden under the beds, the cushions plumped up and placed over the stains on the couch and there’s a bunch of flowers on the table?

I remember a conversation I had at this time. This woman was saying of a friend: “You know, I don’t think she ever cleans the tracks of her sliding doors!” I was dumbstruck. I had a houseful of sliding doors. People clean the tracks? How? How often? Why??? That was one acquaintance that never deepened into friendship.

I am a slapdash gardener: weeds show that you are a chemical-free friend of the earth who would never sully your hands with poisons. The same can be said for a lawn full of ant-hills. I am very, very slapdash in the kitchen. I read countless recipe books but almost never use one. When I do, you can bet there’ll be modification and substitution galore. All right, the results are occasionally less than optimal but mostly pretty darn good. Why stop in the middle of preparing a meal to rush out for balsamic vinegar when a slosh of soy sauce will probably do? Or a glug of plonk? At least I get it done, OK?

Mind you, I haven’t achieved these heights of slapdashery without help. In addition to my mother, I have had several slapdash gurus along the way. One has been my sister-in-law, Linda (Slapdash Great-Aunt?) A highly successful professional, community member, wife and mother, Linda makes slapdash glam. I remember once, in our youth, Linda suggested to me that a lick of paint would brighten up some of our dreary hand-me-down furniture. Linda’s house was always bright and cheery as the result of her paint-brush. I replied with a groan that I couldn’t be stuffed with all the sanding-and-undercoating drama.
“Oh, I never do that!” she replied.
“But you have to!” I gasped. 
“No, I never do, I never have and I never will,” my mentor stated firmly.
And do you know what? She was dead right. I also have now slapped more licks of paint and estapol around the house than you could believe and I never sand or undercoat. And it’s fine. Thank you, Linda!

So I say to the lovely Sarah, AKA Slapdash Mama, and to all her followers, embrace Slapdash! Do what gets the job done, what looks good, what makes you happy, and if you can cut some corners on the way, go for it!

Thanks Mum.  Your crone-like wisdom is sage and crone-like.  I actually didn't know about the whole not sanding or undercoating thing.  I'm not sure I'm ok with it.

Kidding!  As if I would care!?

See you round peeps.


  1. Well it's good to know that Sarah isn't a (total!) freak of nature and that Slapdashery is in her genes.She has clearly learnt from the best. I salute you both.Perfectionism is so bloody over-rated!

    1. Isn't it just!? Thanks Sulky you faithful reader and supporter.

  2. Love this! Who knew people cleaned the tracks on sliding doors? And blue heart cake- genius! But I always put my cook books to good use- Julia Child, Heston Blumenthal.... they look mighty nice on the coffee table :)

    Also, love the stories about free hand sewing- I struggled with sewing in home economics class- didn't stop me from getting a good grade thanks to me handing in my twin sister's tracksuit pants for assessment- the same ones that had been graded the previous day.

    Long live Slapdashery x

    1. Tracksuit pants! What a hilarious sewing project. Frankly it sounds quite advanced, sewing that stretchy tracksuit material. I am impressed. Slapdashery for life!

  3. Love this! mostly because I actually cleaned the tracks on my sliding windows and doors the other day and you know what?! NOT A SINGLE PERSON NOTICED!! which to me means that I could have left the damn things alone! lol


    1. That's right! If it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure my father in law would have noticed, he is the opposite of slapdash and totally noticed our filthy tracks one day. Oops.

  4. Ashamedly, I can be somewhat of a pedant; which is why I am ever grateful for my partner who is ALL KINDS of slapdash and balances me out. After living with her for some years I have mellowed into the well-rounded individual you see before you today. Another win for slapdashery.

    1. Cath, my spouse is also somewhat of a pedant and I am thwarted in slapdashery by his attention to detail. If I am Slapdash Mama, then he is Pedantic Pater. Haha!

  5. Your mumsa rocks Sare! I love that the slapdashery has been cultivated through the generations of your family, now resting with you the penultimate craftswoman prior to passing on to P. You guys are like the Nerada tea family... minus the tea.

  6. I come from a long line of antislapdasharians. Teach me, oh slapdash yoda and mini-yoda, for your insights are bountiful and wise. It was clear I must have been adopted from the time in school I made my grandma sew my shorts for year 8 at a school. My weeds grow tall and proud, and my house is dirty, but, alas, also untidy. I'll be looking for 'How Tos' please. Yours, mini control freak with guilt.

    1. Perhaps I can do a series if slapdash how tos. Although I think they would be boring things like " Sink full of dishes and you need to go out? solution - leave them to do later and just go out!". I'll have to come up with something better than that I think...

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Vent your spleen! You know you want to.

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