Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Part 1 - "Procrastination is the thief of time"...........

…….My husband responds as I complain that I have writers block; that it is so bad even Dyno-rod or semtex couldn’t shift it and that I’m going to give up this blogging lark. I’m such a wee gobshite that he can’t believe that I have nothing to say and tells me “to get on with it” before he hurriedly kisses me goodbye and rushes out the door on his way to work. I’ve, tried but damn it, maybe if I leave things for a while something interesting might pop up and I’ll be off again writing like a demon, perpetually re-writing my prose in the search of the ever elusive perfect sentence. But, I can procrastinate for Britain, and would deservedly earn a gold medal for my efforts in the art of displacement activities.

I’ve never been domestically oriented in any way, shape or form and as long as I am alive there will always be a thriving small business empire in the guise of cleaners, gardeners, decorators and window cleaners. I refuse to lie on my death bed wishing I had done more ironing. That said, when there is a deadline looming, a difficult report to write or indeed a blog to compose there is nothing more distracting to me than the sudden need to attack a pile of ironing, to clean the cooker, (a job I completely detest), or to get behind the furniture and vacuum up those dust bunnies that have lain dormant for six months. Any old displacement activity will suffice in the process of avoiding what really needs to be done.

So here I am with an abundance of domestic chores to choose from which you wouldn't expect to have when we gainfully employ a cleaner. How so you might ask? Well in short, my cleaner hasn’t really embraced the concept that she is a cleaner and merely exercises the dust from one room to another on a weekly basis. I’ve tried leaving a duster wrapped around a tin of furniture polish in the hope that she will actually use it to trap dust rather than relocate it. But alas, her frequency in polishing rather than dusting runs to approximately once a month. On the upside, a tin of polish around here can last about two years. Early on in our ‘relationship’ I naively sat her down to discuss the possibility that she might like to consider a schedule of chores that she could undertake on a rota basis. “Perhaps”, I said smiling benignly at her, “if we set out what we would like you to do and in return you can tell us what you are prepared to undertake, we’d all know where we were coming from, domestic wise so to speak”. It was probably around this time that she decided we were a couple of gullible and intellectually challenged eejits who were deluded with ideas above our station. Only the village idiot would be daft enough to interfere in her working practices – for what they were. I had no doubt she would lose no time in tossing our names into a hat as ideal for the position of village idiot should the current incumbent relinquish his post. So what was the outcome of our little chat? She dutifully came every Wednesday, followed the same routine and left four hours later. I even paid her holiday money for the days she took as leave such was my need to hang onto her. It was clearly a sellers market and an inconsistent cleaner was better than none, I had convinced myself.

On the surface the house looked clean and tidy but on closer inspection there were tell tale signs that not all was as it seemed. The dust bunnies and cobwebs were all too apparent on the cat’s head as he emerged from his foray along the back of the couch. It was a trick he somehow perfected when guests were in residence. People say that animals have a sense of humour – this wee guy was a riot. I was ashamed to open kitchen cupboards as their contents would surely have given the Environmental Agency and their team of microbiologists cause to condemn us for harbouring plague inducing growths. It was months before we realised that anything that got in the way of vacuuming the bedroom carpet was duly flipped underneath the bed by her very deft footwork. It was a veritable treasure trove of missing shoes, a tie, odd socks, a pair of knickers, a wire coat hanger and a mug with a penicillin culture thriving beautifully in it - and everything covered in a thick layer of asthma inducing dust.

We muddled along year after year. We’d frantically run around tidying up the evening before she was due. She’d arrive the next morning and move the dust around, have two tea breaks and snaffle half a packet of bourbons before having it away on her toes with her financial recompense. The arrangement worked, after a fashion. We could live with it, we told ourselves. After all, she kept the place ticking over, we agreed. Once a month I’d do under the beds and every six months I’d spend a weekend cleaning out kitchen cupboards and running a wet cloth around the skirting boards for a laugh - not. I'd spend my lost weekend cursing her and her tardiness and my inability to redress the imbalance. Then things changed.

On a Wednesday she arrived, took off her coat and hung it in the hall cupboard. I heard the familiar click of the kettle as she popped it on for her first tea break of the day. I’d forgotten it was Wednesday and that she would be here. I was surprised that I had heard her at all for I was sobbing so very hard that it was almost impossible to breath. I was in shock and deeply upset and I tried hard to rally myself, to stop crying, lest she should hear me. I found that I couldn’t stop; that my heart was so shattered and in pain that I would probably never stop crying, ever. I sobbed behind my bedroom door; she busied herself shuffling dust particles around. In time I heard a gentle rap on my door. Without waiting for a reply, she entered and walked towards the bedside cabinet. Making a space between the mountains of soggy tissues, she set down a cup of tea, before turning to look at my hugely swollen red eyes and blotchy face.

“He’s left me”, I managed by way of an explanation. “I know dear” she replied, by way of acknowledging it. She sat down on the edge of the bed and wrapped her arms around me. Her kindness overwhelmed me and I convulsed and continued to sob even harder than I thought possible, because somehow saying it out loud, made it that little bit more real. She stayed with me until my tears dried; she made me wash my face and brush my hair and swap my damp pyjamas for jogging pants and top. She left with my promise that I would get out of bed every morning and do the same. She came back every day for a week to make sure I did.

I found kindness and sympathy and help that day. A lifeline thrown from the most unlikely of sources and from someone I didn’t know was a friend until I really needed her.

21 comments:

Henry North London said...

I second you with the ironing. When I was working I had the luxury of a cleaner who did it all for me...

I figured £8 a week was not too high a price for not having to iron...

Thanks for coming to my blog , Please tell your blogosphere friends...

Henry...

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

8 quid? God, that's loose change around here! I'd gladly pay double and some to have my ironing done. Still, I bought a nice big press and I can get through a family of four sized pile in a few hours if I set my mind to it. Thanks for visiting Henry

laurie said...

hiya--thanks for visiting my blog. i plan to spend a chunk of today reading yours! (apparently menopause hits at 52 in my family, so i have one year left of sanity, the way i see it.)

pilot knob road is, indeed, a very funny name. a boring stretch of suburban highway, but a name definitely to make you giggle.

Henry North London said...

Where do you live?

The cleaner came for 3 hours a week and took £24 cash in hand...

She managed the whole house usually... and took the bins out and hoovered cleaned the bathroom and kitchen for that in addition to the ironing. The one thing that I regret about events is that I had to let her go when I was unfairly dismissed... Employer being taken to court (bastards)

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

And thank you for visiting mine laurie. I will add you to my links because I like your blog very much and anything to do with Minneapolis, St Paul is a good read for me given that I was based there on business of and on for over twenty years.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Fair Cop? said...

Hello MOB. I started posting a few months ago but had to stop as I am very busy at work. I am married to a woman around your age who is going through the menopause too. The way you describe what seems to be an awful time with great wit and humour makes me crease up with laughter. My wife reads you avidly but she wont blog because she is too shy. Maybe you will encourage her to put something into print. But keep up the good work as a post from you just makes our week. Why aren't you in print yet?

Breezy said...

Hi MOB thanks for visiting me

This post made me well up at the end. I fear my pockets are too deep and my arms too short for cleaners ironers and the like and even if my arms were longer there's only old supermarket receipts and bits of fluff in the pockets. I just have to go through life being dirty and creased

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Breezy, thanks for your comments. It was a desperately horrible time for me and one that I eventually grew stronger from as no doubt we all do after the breakup of a love affair. We'd been together for 18 years and he was my best friend and I knew we had problems but I didn't see that coming. My tummy still churns at the memory of it and the terror I felt at being alone for the first time in my life.

Dirty and creased is a good way to go though life! Better to be comfortable in your own skin and to hell with what others think!

Henry North London said...

I wholeheartedly agree though my mother the perfectionist would disagree with the creased and dirty...

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

That's a mother's job Henry!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Thank you A Fair Cop? for your lovely comment and I hope you get the time to get back to the blogging soon. Tell your wife that this is the best place for her to start writing because she can remain anonymous and with time her confidence should grow. I hope she at least can comment and share her concerns or experiences here in my blog at least. Thanks again.

Lane said...

I had to pass by your blog (via Laurie's) because the name was intruiging:-)

Am glad I did - that was a great story. Support can come from the most unexpected people can't it.

Thank you for a great read.

Swearing Mother said...

MOB, what a fabulous and moving post. I think your cleaner's twin sister "does" my house too, and also my best friend's. Whenever we visit each other's houses we have hours of endless fun running our fingers across the top of pictures, along skirting boards etc., and always marvel at the fact that some are done whilst others aren't. We've tried to work out why this is, but if we ever found out it would spoil the fun.

She's worth the money in entertainment value alone.

Thank God for a sense of humour.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Thank you Lane and Swearing Mother for your lovely comments. I am really chuffed as you are both such great writers - Lane just passed by your place for the first time this morning and I loved it.

Men eh?

laurie said...

a great, sad story. and i'm with lane--the realization that comfort comes from unusual places is both inspiring and humbling.

i hope this was a long time ago... being a newbie here, i can't tell for sure.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Laurie, yes it was about 9 years ago. I am a long time over it and very very happy with my wonderful husband of three years. It's been cathartic to write about it and it made me cry as I dredged up feelings that were long gone.

belle said...

Oooh I've been out of touch for a while MOB and you've gone and written a stunner! I've had to re-read it dozens of times. It's haunting and so well done.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Belle, Thank you so much, you are too kind indeed.

Willowtree said...

I think my tale is worse than yours. My cleaner left me, but sadly, my wife stayed.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Willowtree, thanks for making me laugh out loud! Yup a good cleaner is worth her or his weight in gold. In time I came to realise that I got the best end of the deal!