Yes, I had the bonuses of being the Big Sister, staying up late, more pocket money, knowing more clever put-downs (and thus winning more arguments) and being the first to have trampolining lessons but, I always felt very responsible for my sister, and I grew up way too fast.
Domestic Sluttery (Pavilion, £14.99) is a book that came fifteen years too late for me, alas. It is a rebellious but ultimately dependable Older Sister in hardback form, one who will give you tips on home, food, style and living, without making you feel guilty for taking short-cuts. It is the kind of woman who talks about design porn but also makes a cracking Toad in the Hole. In fact, despite its retro-styling, Domestic Sluttery is not about cleaning and cooking and having tea on the table by 5.30. It’s far more realistic than that. The author admits that everything is more appealing than doing housework and doesn’t promise to turn you into that impossible paragon, the Perfect Housewife. Although it shuns Stepford Wives living, it does pay tribute to the styles and experience of yesteryear, with a fabulous section on vintage clothes and an evocative piece on childhood food memories.
Sluttery is not a word I like, prim and proper Big Sister that I am, but I do like the concept that there is more to life than perfection. In the area of domesticity, as with most other areas of life, I am apt to tell myself that unless I can achieve some fantastically high standard, it is not even worth beginning the task in hand, whether it be making a chocolate cake or redecorating the bathroom. Instead of aiming high and not daring to begin, this book encourages me to simply live well, saying “to hell with it” and doing the stuff that makes me happy, without living in fear of detention or disapproval. It's the domestic version of The Idle Parent. For the author, Sian Meades, the stuff that makes her happy includes good food, spending time with her friends and family and having a home that feels like hers, so this is what Domestic Sluttery focuses on, with permission to make mistakes along the way. Finally, a home and lifestyle guide for women that have better things to do.