Having had several very wet days, and then several very sunny days – when we were away visiting other parts, I’ve got a little behind on my washing, and having had guests, laundry I’d washed previously has not been ironed. Today it was lovely, sunny and bright, so the wash went on, and no sooner was it out of the machine, then another load went in. It all went out on the line, and even though there was not much wind, it dried to some extent and was fresh and smelled of sun.

So this afternoon, on went trash TV – the sort of programmes you don’t really need to watch while you press the creases out of the clothes, and the ironing board was erected and I worked my way through Washday Mountain. Irony… which got me thinking about actual irony, not our name for ironing. I know what it is, I learned about it at school, but as I pondered and ironed, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t properly define it.

After a think, and after looking it up I found that there are three sorts of irony:

  • when you say something which would normally mean a certain thing, but the way you say it shows you’re meaning it in the opposite way. You usually do this to be funny, or try to be funny, or to emphasise what you’re trying to say. I suppose sarcasm can be a form of irony, and maybe being cynical
  • when a situation is completely opposite to what ‘s expected, and can even be funny being so contrary
  • then there is the literary technique – and I did have to double-check I properly remembered it – by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

I guess some people with long memories might recall Michael Parkinson interviewing Ruby Wax on his chat show. He missed the point of what she said and she replied “Irony, Parky, irony!”  and ever since then, ironing has been irony, Parky.

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