Thursday, 27 December 2007

Cleaning up for Aunty Dee

All day I spend tidying the house so that Aunty Dee can stay over at the Pile for three nights without thinking she might be living in the town dump.

This is not my Aunty, by the way, this is the children's aunty. She is Dig's sister and Grit's sister in law. Just to clear up any confusion there.

Aunty Dee is also the twin sister of Evangelical Vee, with whom she has just spent Christmas, probably being in a clean and Godly environment which is not covered in broken Playmobil and mould. In fact Evangelical Vee didn't get her name for nothing. She is very Godly and sells harps in Wales. No, seriously. I'm not making that up. We don't see Evangelical Vee much. When we do, I don't say much, mostly on account of the evangelism. This can make it very difficult to have any conversation without God interrupting, reminding everyone how much good he does everywhere, and where he can be found, should I care to look. Under the bookcase or behind the chest of drawers, I expect, along with the Lego.

Anyway, painfully aware that Aunty Dee, whom I treasure very much, will come straight to us from a clean and Godly environment, I turn my attention to the cellar bedroom.

First I clear up all the farm animals, railway track, Playmobil people and aeroplanes from the cellar bedroom floor so that it does not look like Satan's nursery. Sadly, I note that one Playmobil person is positioned standing upright, laughing maniacally, holding a shovel. The other sad little Playmobil person, lying at his feet, has no head. Beside them both is a pile of Playmobil horse poo. I'm not saying it was deliberate, but there seems to be a lot of Playmobil people lined up on the railway track, too.

Once I've cleared away these scenes of torture, I make a wardrobe happen. The wardrobe is one of those wooden plank and linen cloth arrangements that Oo has contributed to our eclectic range of household furniture. Oo's wardrobe involves tripping over it, trying to balance bits of it on my head, inserting twenty screws and swearing a great deal. In fact there is so much swearing I didn't realise I knew so many naughty words and could cohere them so quickly together. Obviously, I try not to swear with God in it at all, just in case Evangelical Vee turns out to be right and I am condemned to live all eternity up Satan's bottom.

Next, it's clean up time for the leaky cellar bathroom which has resulted in mould and fallen-off tiles. If cleanliness is next to Godliness, there is no way he's coming in here. I attack the limescale on the wash basin taps with a screwdriver and stab the plughole with a pair of tweezers. I'm aiming to get out the hairy stuff that always goes down the plughole even though no one ever washes hair here.

Pushing after the tweezers a twisted up coathanger, a selection of household cutlery and three screwdrivers starts to look like deliberate bathroom sabotage and a determination that God's not going to find his way up the plughole, so I try not to do it more than is necessary.

And so, by the afternoon, with a newly put-up wardrobe, a cleaned-up floor and a sink with a screwdriver stuck in it, I am well on the way to accommodating guests. Just the bedding to go.

Now I don't know what it's like in your house, but bedding is a nightmare here. The covers never match the duvets. The pillowcases never match the covers. The duvets never fit the beds. To disguise the entire mess I might throw over a length of fluffy fabric in the hope that it suggests sensuous exotica. In reality it looks like a dog's bed. Then I wonder if exotica and animals might not be a Godly visual message to send out and hide the fluffy cover, just in case.

Although I did not find God behind the towel rail, I'm counting my hours of labour today as a cleaning success. From chaos to order. From dirt to not-quite-as-much dirt. From black mould to, well, black mould. And although I cannot supply God, with newly cleaned and restored surroundings, I hope that the transition for Aunty Dee is not too uncomfortable.

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