It’s a peculiarly middle-class dilemma: when one’s cleaner seems to have let standards slip, what’s one to do?
“Darling, it’s really not good enough,” said The Mother. “You’re paying her to do a job: if it’s not up to scratch then you need to say something. You wouldn’t just let it go if it were someone at work, would you?”
TM is right. I’m not too fond of putting up with substandard service in other areas of my life, whether it’s a supplier at work dragging their feet, or shocking rudeness from a National Rail employee when I'm trying to renew my season ticket.
But somehow, I’ve been less quick to jump to noticeable displeasure when it comes to telling the cleaner exactly what I’m thinking.
When I moved in by myself, it wasn’t too long before I decided that paying for a cleaner would be as obligatory as paying the mortgage. Whilst relatively domesticated (there’s always bacon in the freezer and beer in the fridge for when the boys come to visit, and I’ve picked out the most gorgeous of paint for the sitting room), I’m not a fan of cleaning and, left to my own devices, won’t do it anywhere nearly as frequently as society or levels of dust would like.
And so, making the most of The Mother’s seemingly endless network of Home Counties stereotypes, I happened upon a recommended cleaner.
Things started so well: I’d get home on a Friday night to find the duvet left without a single crease, and everything in the bathroom lined up in size order, from vast bottles of Toni and Guy down to the smallest Ren samples. And so it continued for a couple of months, until things began to sneak steadily downhill. I’d come home to find the duvet still crease-free, but the sitting room not vacuumed, or the glass not cleaned. And yes, I realise it’s churlish to complain about the coffee table not being polished when I could so easily do it myself, but the point of paying someone else to do it is so I don’t have to.
“Urgh, I think I am going to have to bite the bullet and let her go,” I said to The Mother, when she dropped off eggs from the neighbours’ hens that roam free-range round the neighbourhood, happy to do battle with my parents’ enormous and murderous cat.
“Well, I think you should, darling,” TM said, casting a clearly disapproving eye over the skirting boards.
And so it was that I sat on the sofa later that evening, mentally composing a polite note to leave the next time the cleaner was due to come to rearrange the dust when the phone went.
Hi Blonde, read the text. I’m really sorry but I’ve not been very well recently and they rushed me into hospital the other day to have a liver transplant so I’m not going to be able to come in for a while. Hope you and Colin are ok.
Guilt? All-consuming. Dilemma? Solved.
A cloud over the sun.
7 hours ago