Saturday, 08 May 2021

My triumph with well-honed delegation skills

AND clean that sink! There’s Cookie’s hairs and dried blobs of toothpaste in it — it’s disgusting!”

Ah, the dawn chorus. It’s just gone 7am and the Eleventeen-Year-Old has finished brushing her teeth in the downstairs bathroom/utility room/place where I stuff all the plastic bags with which I haven’t a clue what to do and is barking orders at me already.

“Mum, it’s disgusting!” she bellows.

“I heard you the first time,” I whisper through gritted teeth. “And so did the neighbours, too, I bet.”

We live in one of the middle houses in a row of four Victorian terraces. It’s tiny, a bit messy on occasion — and the walls are paper-thin.

It sometimes feels like we’re living in a dormitory. Once or twice we’ve heard the neighbours’ kids crying on one side and the neighbours on the other side had a New Year’s Eve party that we sort of heard once but, in all honesty, we never really manage to hear much over the din coming from our own place.

“Seriously!” She frowns and marches off to school in her trademark huff.

“Love you,” I call out meekly, shutting the front door as quietly as possible.

“Well, that’s me told, Cooks,” I grin at the dog and rummage around under the kitchen sink for some Marigolds.

“And I wouldn’t say it’s disgusting, exactly,” I continue talking to Cookie as I bleach and scrub furiously in a bid to make our back room sparkle.

“No,” a sleepy little boy yawns, “but the car ith. That’th really dithguthting!”

He chuckles and concentrates on tormenting Cookie.

Unable to find any unperished rubber gloves, I wonder whether he’s got a point as I wash my hands Lady Macbeth-style in the kitchen sink and try to remember whether we have any Cornflakes left or whether the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old prefers Cheerios.

“Wah thith houthe methy and duthty when you lived here with Daddy, Mummy?”

“Yeth it..., sorry, yes it was,” I lie, indignantly.

But it wasn’t. Of course it was pristeen when there was only one six-month-old baby to contend with. And The Ex was always a bit, well, shall we say anal about cleanliness? There. I said it.

He’d often joke that I didn’t know how to use a Hoover and laugh when I thought he was talking about an American actor when talk turned to Mr Sheen.

“It’s a very old house, so it gets really dusty,” I go on. “And you guys never clean up after yourselves, so what’s a Mummy to do?”

“Get a cleaner,” he giggles, running into the front room and turning on the telly. “Thimplth!”

Out of the mouths of toothless babes.

Later on, once both kids are at school and I’m trying to get some (non-house) work done, the BT OpenReach guy comes round to sort out our phone line. Our internet connection keeps dropping out with such alarming regularity — usually when I’m YouTubing videos about getting rid of limescale — that I’ve been left with no other option than to take decisive, affirmative action and get someone else to do something about it.

But there’s nothing like a visit from a ship-shape-and-Bristol-fashion kind of tradesman to put your cleaning skills, or lack thereof, into sharp focus.

“Oh, sorry about the dust bunnies there,” I laugh, embarrassed by the great big scary-looking dust bears that have covered our phone socket. “You know what it’s like with an old house and a dog that’s constantly moulting!”

“No, not really,” he frowns and sweeps the floorboards with his shoes before he kneels down on them.

I leap towards the dustbuster, swipe some cobwebs off it and turn it on.

“Let me just...”

“Don’t worry about it, Love,” he smiles and wipes away a ball of gunk as big as a tumbleweed with his bare hands. He takes off the front of the socket, wipes around with his hanky and blows inside, sending plumes of dirt and debris flying. Mere seconds later, he packs up his stuff and washes his hands.

“Try to keep it a bit cleaner – dust can wreak havoc with connections.”

And as he walks to the front door, he hands me a business card with a local cleaner’s details and says: “Or get someone else to do it!” Talk about simples.

But that’s another story…

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