“Hmm. You do need to find someone else, don’t you?” The Mother said. She stood in the kitchen, having dropped off a load of The Father’s home-grown asparagus, looking over the surfaces with an eagle eye. Only at that point did I notice the fine layer of dust on top of the espresso machine and the slight tarnish on the cutlery in the drainer.
“Um, yes, I suppose so,” I said, hoping to high heaven that she wouldn’t find any reason to look under the fridge, but knowing that, with my Mother, anything’s possible.
It had been a couple of weeks since I’d discovered that my previous cleaner had had to have a liver transplant, and therefore wouldn’t be available for several months to let Colin sit on the draining board and lick water from the tap whilst she did the washing-up. It’s safe to say that Blonde Towers wasn’t as clean and shiny as it can be.
“I’ll ask around for you,” she said.
And thus it was that just days later, a text message from The Mother came through.
I’ve asked around, and found someone for you. She’s one of the ladies who cleans the church, and is very good. She’d like to have a look around to work out how much time she’ll need, so I’ll let her in this afternoon. X
By the time the message came through to me in Small But Perfectly Formed Agency’s basement office, it was several hours later.
My initial feeling of cheer that I’d no longer have to scramble onto chairs in an attempt to reach and dust the light fittings was soon replaced by one of foreboding.
Not expecting company (and definitely not expecting The Mother), I was pretty sure I’d not left the house in a state particularly fit for visitors. My mind wandered over bras draped over the radiators and mugs of not-quite-finished tea on every horizontal surface in the house; shoes scattered liberally over the hall, and an unloved and wilting peace lily in the downstairs loo. I couldn’t bring myself to think about the overflowing state of the laundry basket.
I returned home from work later that night to find a house that had definitely been tampered with.
The shoes were lined up and the post on the coffee table was in an exceptionally neat pile. The week’s papers were in the magazine rack, and the washing-up had been done. Even the multitude of papers pinned to the fridge with a variety of magnets looked neater and tidier.
The multitude of the papers pinned to the fridge looked neater and tidier.
I looked at the fridge door, where I keep all variety of photos, numbers and invitations. There, on the door, I still had the invitation to Speckled Lad’s Commissioning, and all the day‘s other paperwork. Which just happened to include the card I’d been given by the Brand New Officer so keen to find a girl to take to lunch that he’d gone to the ball equipped with a supply of pornographic playing cards with his number scrawled on them in biro - turned over, clearly to protect the modesty of the model, me and the new cleaner, known to my mother from her time spent cleaning the local church.
Suddenly the underwear scattered liberally over the house didn’t seem to be the sluttiest of my embarrassments.