Monday, 19 February 2007

The Kitchen

I've gone bonkers in the kitchen. After helping Dig get the double mattress in the car to take to the tip, and moving the timber that's inexplicably huddled together in the cupboard under the stairs, I turn to new sites of struggle.

First up, the spice rack. This hasn't been cleaned or attended to since 1995 and possibly 1993. I can tell this because the little jars that keep the spices in also have bits of cut up labels in with 'Best Before' dates. Mostly, they're 1995. I'd like to say the spice rack is gleaming now. Not quite, but much improved. The spices are in-date. And the nutmeg grinder works.

Then it's the toaster's turn. The toaster has lived in the kitchen corner, perched on top of a mountain of breadcrumbs, for about three years. I wrestled the toaster from its nest, and the breadcrumbs go to the birds. That was a job well done. I don't want the rat back again.

Next I attack the piles of detritus. It's taken six years for some of these to grow, slowly, like stalagmites, hoping to reach the ceiling. Some are on surfaces, some on shelves, some on the walls. Out go plastic items that have fallen off things and I don't know what, so I've saved them, just in case. Out go broken and crumbling clay pots, made by toddlers, along with cut out numbers and shapes, once in bright colours, stored for a counting song. Down come baby pictures, old shoes, a cut-out picture of a Christmas tree and a photograph of an ant on the lawn. After an hour I can actually see some of the walls again.

The window is last. By the time I get started on it, it's dark. But I've cleaned it, and moaned about how impossible it is to get window cleaners.

We've had three window cleaners in all the time we've lived here. The first was a bloke who routinely disappeared while he stayed in Her Majesty's Hotel. Then he disappeared altogether.

Next came some contract cleaners six times a year. A team of men would descend on the house for eight minutes. At every window there'd be someone slopping and scraping. They were extremely quick. And expensive. In fact they were so quick they may have been reported to the police. They never had the time to wait while we opened the gates at the back so they could get the ladders in. They just shimmied up the ladders, over the garden wall, and down the other side in 30 seconds. Round here, that's like an advert for a professional burglary. Finally they started to complain that the windows were dirty on the inside and it was compromising their professional standards. One time they didn't show up and that was that.

The last window cleaner was a bloke who marketed himself quite cleverly. He went to the gym, slicked back his hair, stripped down to the waist and wore a pair of torn jeans before sauntering up and down the road with a ladder and a leather hanging from his jeans pocket. He seemed to get a lot of business. Every week he was up at the neighbour's windows. Eventually we succumbed here at The Pile too, once a month. I always made sure I was out. I'm a married woman. I don't want to see semi-naked men pressed up against the windows. Anyway, after two years, he stopped window cleaning altogether. Perhaps he got married and his wife put a stop to it.

In terms of taking control over the house, today has to be counted as a big success. I have a slightly grubby spice rack with ground coriander best before Dec 2007, a toaster surrounded by clean worktop, a ghostly outline of a Christmas tree on the wall, and a smeary window.

So with happiness I can watch the slug, still clinging to the outside of the window, making its slow progress to the top. A bit like us. We move into the top layer of the house on Saturday.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

We've had the window cleaners who could hop over the back fence in 10 seconds flat too. But we stopped using them when we realised their ladder technique of smashing their ladder against the (rotting) window ledges had meant remedial window attention was urgently required. It's just best to come round here on an overcast day as the windows don't scream "clean me!" - which they do in full sun.