Saturday, 25 August 2012

The gladness of family

Aunty Dee is staying with us for the late August holiday.

As usual, two hours before her arrival, I'm in a flapping panic. She will see the knee-deep pile of crap in which we live. Fear of exposure and humiliation sends me skittering around the kitchen floor waving a vacuum cleaner nozzle while shouting at the children. Yes, the usual stream of incoherent rubbish - comb your hair tidy up take the unicorn outside move the books clear the sofa what is this doing here uughh get it out out OUT.

Everyone ignores me because I have done this type of thing before.

Then, as normal, I reach the point of respiratory failure with all the shouting and random nozzle assaults, and I flop on the sofa to recover. Things seem to calm a little. I consider the world in perspective. I can dump all cleaning equipment in the front room to signify intention, if not actual fact, that some cleaning has been done. Surely now it is more sensible to make use of the limited time; ensure her immediate environment is welcoming and comfortable. I decide to set about her boudoir.

She will stay in the part of the house with no shower and no hot water. Inside the old cellar bedroom which flooded, leaving mould all over the ceiling. One day, when we are wealthy, we will do something radical, like have the room beautifully done over, but until then, it looks like a cellar bedroom that's been flooded. I look on the positive side of these disasters. The flood cleared out the mice nests, so I no longer need sweep her bed for droppings. And the brown staining on the walls I can imagine, between squinted eyes, that the delightful mottling patterns are indicative of an elegant distress in a suitably Victorian style. Squirrel helps with a vase of garden flowers which seems mostly composed of dandelions and privet hedge.

Ten minutes before Aunty Dee arrives, we are done, and I think it all looks rather splendid. In the last two hours I have come to think of myself as a bit of an interior designer; I snap a photograph of the garden chair I have artfully arranged in the spider corner. I consider interior design might be my next profession.


Aunty Dee comes in, hugs the children, enthuses about the dandelions, says it's alright about the cold water and never utters a word about the floor or the unicorns or the privet hedge or the mould. This is what is lovely about her. I can completely take advantage of her forgiving nature, time and time again, and know that when I'm in real trouble, she'll come down and have a go at the vacuuming herself.

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