It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Homeward Bound by Richard Smith: published by Matador in November 2019, it’s available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon, for nook from Barnes and Noble, and in paperback via Waterstones and Ink84. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support.
Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over.
He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions.
I really, really liked the look of this book – and although I just couldn’t fit in the reading this time, I still hope it’s one I’ll be able to catch up with in future. But I have a quite wonderful guest post from Richard, all about… well, I’ll let him tell you…
“Two dishwashers? Why do you need two dishwashers?”
That was the question the lady designing our new kitchen asked me. It struck me that if she was any good at kitchen design, she’d know the answer. But I could tell from the way she was staring at me, she was waiting for an answer.
“You take plates from cupboards, cutlery from drawers and glasses from shelves and use them for a meal,” I patiently explained.
“When you’ve finished, you put them in the dishwasher.”
My wife was rolling her eyes as she knew where I was going with this. Our designer manifestly did not.
“You wait until it’s full, then turn it on and when it’s finished, you take out the plates and put them back in the cupboards, the cutlery back in the drawers and the glasses on the shelves.”
I think I hoped for a sign of recognition. Instead there was a blank expression with a soupçon of impatience. My wife just stared daggers at me.
“So next time you have a meal, you go back to the cupboard for the plates . .”
My wife interrupted. “I think we’ve got that.”
I needed to complete the cycle. “But with two dishwashers, next to each other, of course, you cut out all that unloading, putting away, fetching out again. You leave the clean stuff in one dishwasher until it’s needed, then take it out, use it and . .”
“. . . put the dirties back into the second dishwasher. I get it now.”
“Exactly. And when dishwasher two is full, you turn it on and dishwasher one becomes the place where the dirties go.” I was pleased she didn’t pick up on the one flaw in my plan; what happens when you’re mixing dirties with unused cleans.
“What a good idea.”
And so the dual dishwashers were integrated into the new kitchen plan. It would make shelf, cupboards and drawers in the original scheme redundant. For the moment, I kept secret my hopes for using them as overflow storage for my records and CDs.
What has fascinated me is that no-one else seems to have cottoned on to this idea. I did a quick Google check and could find no manufactures that have created a double dishwasher, though surely there’s need for a new products with a unique design in a crowded market. Nor have retailers seized the moment to sell two instead of one to every customer. I offer them the concept. It could be my small contribution to helping the UK out of recession.
Inevitably this has led to me to re-evaluate other ‘givens’ of domestic life. Why, for example, do we make beds? If it’s straightened sheets and pillows you’re after, why not do it before you go to bed rather than waste time and energy in the morning, especially when there’s already the tedious routine of shaving for men and make-up for women. Though I’d go one further and say why bother make the bed at all. The sheets will be crumpled up within minutes of getting in anyway. When the reaper comes calling, how much of your life will have been wasted making beds – smoothing sheets, hospital corners, plumping pillows and all? And if you really feel the need for crisp, cold sheets, tightly tucked down, then make it a treat to look forward to every month when you change the bed or go on holiday and have hotel staff do it for you.
And don’t get me on duvets and duvet covers. I had an eiderdown as a child. It needed no constant wrestling with a cover, just pulled up over me at night. No-one admits to inventing the duvet but its popularity in the UK seems to have arisen as some sort of fashion statement when we were in the thrall of Habitat and Laura Ashley on every High Street. And where are they now, though we persist with the duvet?
And then there are cushions. What are they for? Show me a house with cushions and I’ll show you the influence of a woman. No male that I know would even consider buying a cushion, let alone festoon sofas and – worse still – beds with them.
But back to my genius dishwasher idea. I’d put it out of my mind to concentrate on writing Homeward Bound, though I did get the occasional twinge about whether it would work and was I being a mite extravagant, decadent even.
I needn’t have worried. There was a late change. I was informed that there was insufficient space for two dishwashers. And the plumbing couldn’t be adjusted to accommodate them both. I might have protested, but my wife and the designer presented the news as a fait accompli. So we have a new kitchen but just one dishwasher, and I spend probably twice as long a week in the cycle of dishwasher-storage-dishwasher-storage as I do making the bed and plumping up cushions (though luckily I’ve never mastered the duvet, so that’s a task avoided).
But if you like the dual dishwasher idea, feel free to use it.
As for me, my disappointment was mitigated somewhat by an unexpected addition to the kitchen, one that required minimal space and no extra pipework; a wine chiller. And I couldn’t argue against that.
Richard, thank you – if that’s a taste of your writing, I’m looking forward even more to reading the book! Wishing you every success with it…
About the author
Richard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti- drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.