Wednesday, 4 July 2007

The cleaners

Ermintrude thinks we should get a cleaner. She's come to this conclusion after weilding the replacement vacuum cleaner and needing two bags for the enormous balls of fluff that she has found lurking under the bookcase.

The fluff has been there so long it is probably evolving into a primitive life form and has created a functioning brain and lungs for itself. I think this, but I don't say it, because Ermintrude's English might not stand up at this level and she just might be packing her bags ready to leave in the wake of some misinterpretation of what I'm trying to convey about what can be found in the front room.

Well, Ermintrude, I say. We have tried cleaners. Five of them, to be accurate. I'll tell you about them.

The first cleaner didn't exist, but I'll count them, because in my experience, cleaners who don't exist take up far more time than cleaners who do. The first cleaner didn't come via the Maid for You service. In a fit of optimism and in ignorance of reality, Dig paid over a huge amount of money on a monthly basis to be told time and time again over the phone that it was quite difficult getting cleaning staff right now but they could send flowers for his wife's birthday if he could let them have the date.

Honestly, Ermintrude, we cancelled them after two months because they seemed only interested in running an Interflora service and nothing to do with actual things we needed like cleaners and plumbers.

Cleaner number two came from a cleaning agency out of the local newspaper. She was very nice and did come regularly at first. She did make quite a record for herself though. She managed to break the Dyson vacuum cleaner, coffee grinder, pedal bin and bath. The bath was sensational. She swung the broken Dyson straight at the bath panel; it cracked smartly in two, then a large dagger shaped chunk fell out, leaving a splintered, gaping hole so we could see the pipework. That's why we have a curtain at the side of the bath Ermintrude. You thought it was for decorative purposes, didn't you? There you go. Never think anything is simple in the Grit household.

Cleaner number three arrived when Cleaner number two left for Dorset. Cleaner number three smashed the frame of my favourite picture which was in the hall. I know it was just a print and just from Habitat, but I liked it. I didn't like the cleaner, actually. She was rather grumpy about the type of cleaning on offer here at the Pile; I was glad when she didn't show up and I could quietly suggest to the agency that another personality type might be better suited to being in an environment that does not use Airwick or Pledge.

Cleaner number four was downright odd and wouldn't come back after a couple of weeks. I think she was carrying around a couple of hundredweight of chips on her shoulders. I know that sounds odd, Ermintrude, but I'll explain about a chip on the shoulder later. Now doing a cleaning job is fine by me. I am eternally gratefully to anyone who does this job because I don't like it and am not very good at it. And I am sure I have never said anything demeaning or rude or unpleasant about the job of being a cleaner. But within minutes of being in the house, Cleaner number four shouted in a huff 'I have a degree in sports science, you know!' and proceded to prove it by running up and down the stairs 40 times. I felt I had to acknowledge her ability at stair-running by clapping, which seemed to make everything worse. I was quite glad she decided not to come back after week two.

Cleaner number five was the last, because I couldn't take any more. Cleaner number five was Holly, who was being beaten up by her husband. She'd left him once already and come back to him when he wooed her all over again and promised to reform. Then she didn't get ready to go out quick enough one Saturday night and got a black eye for her tardiness, which she turned up with one Monday morning. When she turned up with four children in tow, I really had to wonder what I'd got myself into by hiring a cleaner in the first place.

At this point I decided not to hire any more cleaners and decided to do the job myself. Quite when I thought I might clean the house, given the home educating of triplets, a job in the office and the daily routine of cooking, feeding, washing, I'm not quite sure.

Which is why the house is in the state it's in today, Ermintrude.

Now, I'll show you where the vacuum cleaner bags are.

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