We are temporarily without a cleaner as Phoebe flatly refuses to pay for one. She says we should be able to keep this lovely modern flat ‘under control’ ourselves.
Even when I was very poor, I have always employed a cleaner, cleaners who often became friends over their time with me. The way I figure it, if I can earn more per hour than I have to pay a cleaner, it’s money well spent as I build a business.
I have loved all my cleaners, even the one who never put anything away but lined it all up neatly on the worktop and managed to lock himself in between the flat door and the front door and had to sit on the stairs for 4 hours until he could be rescued. This was in the days before mobile phones.
I had a wonderful Italian cleaner at my hotel in Worthing, she could do 12 rooms in a morning, either a swift ‘refresh’ or a full on ‘turnaround’. She set my standards very high.
My last but one cleaner, you may recall, is the one that bought the house in Greece that Sarah and I stayed in that memorable freezing winter in 2016 when I was seeking to start my grieving journey. My last cleaner was a demon, she got many, many great referrals on Facebook and she was just so good, I’m still a bit traumatised at having to leave her to the tender mercies of my son and his two new flatmates.
As I say, I’ve always had a cleaner, that is except when I was actually homeless, in which case, I just helped to keep clean the abode of whichever sister was ‘putting me up’ on their sofa or in their spare room.
Now we are in the luxury pad in Brighton, I’m noticing that it’s actually quite hard to keep something so brand new clean, or clean to my standards.
I notice every fingerprint on the charcoal grey kitchen cupboards, every smear on the island and shiny ceramic hob it cradles. every watermark on the sliding shower doors, the rugs attracting bits which demand daily hoovering, a demand I largely ignore, I must confess.
And the dust, where does it come from? We’ve only been here a month and a half, and while I clean my sink, shower and loo regularly and I’m sure I’ve hoovered / mopped at least twice, my bathroom has permanent small dustballs, there are specks of dust on the white skirting board and I’ve had to actually clean – not just dust – the black shelf behind the sink several times. Dark dust on the skirting, white dust on the black shelf thing, how does that work anyway?
Why is dust black anyway? In my bathroom it should be pink dust, as I have pink skin and pink towels and I don’t smoke, so why is it dark dust?
Is it a spin-off from the dark matter that makes up 85% or more of the universe? Should I be calling Professor Brian Cox to come and investigate my dust immediately?
Phoebe, my daughter can actually smell dust.
My sister Heather had a flat in Hove that had a stairwell with no windows, that always smelt a bit… musty and Phoebe loved that smell. ‘Mmmmm, the smell of dust’ she would say and made it sound like we were both only one month away from turning into twin Miss Havershams. We were single at the time.
She’s got her own bathroom here (have I mentioned how wonderful that is?) and has filled it with many, many pretty things including fake ivy.
I can’t help looking at ornaments and pretty things as ‘dust collectors’ which pops into my head with a disembodied voice with a disapproving tone. It can’t be my Nan’s voice as she loved a nice ornament, particularly those vaguely creepy china children in Victorian outfits.
Is she dusting around them? Is she just ignoring the dust? I must ask her as she’s certainly not got a ‘chore day’ when she works from top to bottom of a room, as my mother and grandmother taught me cleaning should be done.
I’m a perfectionist non-cleaner, which sounds impossible, but I can assure you that, is not. I notice everything but clean nothing. A recipe for continuous mental torment.
I might have to pay for a cleaner myself. Or get someone in once a month from TaskRabbit to the dusting, hoovering and cleaning the floors.
Then I can stop thinking about it, in the sanguine fashion my flatmate Phoebe seems to manage so effortlessly.