I was browsing through WG Hoskins’ Local history in England (originally published in 1959, although this is the 1972 edition) earlier today. And this, in the chapter on fieldwork on buildings, did make me giggle.
It is obviously not always easy for someone who may be a total stranger to approach a house and expect to roam all over it. One should always, of course, knock at the front door and ask permission to look… Men usually find it much easier than women to get inside a house as they are rightly reckoned not to notice that the house has not been polished and dusted for a day or two.
Well, perhaps I shouldn’t make assumptions just because the women in my family don’t have the dusting and polishing gene, and if complete strangers turned up at my door asking to have a look around, my first thought wouldn’t be whether the house was clean enough. But it does seem to me to conjure up an image of a vanished era, with houseproud wives and strong silent chaps who wouldn’t know how to boil an egg… and a world of innocence.