Tuesday, 13 October 2009

In which I'm inspired to have a tidier house...

I am all in favour of living by oneself. Sure, there’s no one to have last-minute, late-night chats with, and you have to rely on a complex system of Post Its and alarms to remind you to buy milk. But there are no crumbs in the butter, little black hairs in the plughole or cults in the sitting room. (Oh, and there’s no one to tell you that you’re not allowed a kitten. Colin arrives in about four weeks’ time.)

And, of course, one of the great advantages is that one’s bad behaviour needn’t necessarily be admitted to. Coughing up to Best Mate and The Cynic over Saturday lunch is one thing – and, much as there might be well-deserved mockery, the confession was wholly voluntary. If you don’t want anyone else to know about the lapses in concentration, there’s nothing like living by oneself.

There’s no one around to keep an ear out for the sex jeans, or get crabby if you don’t come home alone. Which, given my recent indiscretion, was just as well, as Speckled Lad and I didn’t even make it to the bedroom when he came to stay for the weekend. Whether we would have done had there been other people in the house, I don’t know. But, as it was, I was rather glad there was no one to wander in and catch us at it on the sofa.

Of course, living by oneself also makes one slightly less inclined to remove the detritus that lands in life’s wake. The Saturday papers sprawl over the coffee table, coffee paraphernalia litters the kitchen side, and a pair of exorbitant heels that one kicked off as soon as one got home from a bar opening during the week discarded in the hall.

But, as I have now learnt, it’s not always such a fabulous idea to be so sluttish in one’s tidying habits.

It was the post-Speckled Sunday, and I was padding round the house in t-shirt and jogging bottoms, making tea and brunch. Having sloped straight back to bed once I’d packed SL off to his chemical gas test at ungodly o’clock (heaven knows what the neighbours thought), I’d only just got up, and was contemplating an afternoon on the sofa with a novel when the doorbell rang. A little bleary, I opened the door with one hand, a bucket of Earl Grey in the other.

“Hello, darling. Gosh, are you all right? You look a little… crumpled.” The Mother blitzed through the door, arms laden with homemade pumpkin soup, a fleece blanket for the kitten, and a pot plant.

“Eh? Oh, just got up,” I muttered, following her through the hall into the sitting room. She stopped. I followed her gaze as it landed on the sofa. My heart sank.

Strewn over the cushions and surrounding floor area, and which I hadn’t yet got round to picking up, were a couple of shoes, a haphazard arrangement of several items of clothing – and, over the back of the sofa, a decidedly male-looking sock.

“You and Speckled Lad had a nice evening, I hope?” She said as she whirled through and landed the soup and the plant on the kitchen side with a thud.

“Great, thanks,” I said, dying inwardly.

“Good,” she said, folding the blanket and draping it over the back of one of the kitchen chairs. “Well, darling, I’ll leave you to it. It looks like you have a touch of clearing up to do. Have a lovely afternoon.” She kissed me on the cheek and reeled out at the same speed she’d whirled in at.

As I rescued my bagel from the toaster, I resolved that there was only one thing for it. If one is to live by oneself, there has to be a plan for the detritus: hail the advent of the cleaner.


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