I’m rather late with Housekeepers Question Time this week.
I got a little waylaid de-cluttering the bookshelves and boxing up more than one hundred books ready for who knows what and then my fragile little ego took something of a battering when a random nasty stranger, going by the names of both Don’t Clean and Dirty_Girl took the time to email me and with all the literacy of a stoned baboon informed me that BrocanteHome was “a waste of time an easy way to make money get a job and get a life“ and as a result I wasted all of Friday night feeling oddly shaken by the ramblings of a cowardly lunatic, dithering about where one buys a life and wondering just how mad you would have to be to imagine that choosing a writing life has ever been an easy way to make money.
Truth is I’m not sure the word easy describes a single aspect of single mothering a scrumptious, but spirited child with a little collection of small but significant health issues of his own, while keeping a roof over our heads, answering my creative call and still being available to run to school should poor scissor skills result in yet another bloodied finger, or the accidental ingestion of gluten, in projectile vomiting. Life is hard. All day every day. And I am truly grateful that the small success that is Brocante allows me to improve life one day at a time for both my family and yours, regardless of what any old grimy nay sayers might spout.
Still, even the snarkiest of wounds heal and so by yesterday I was so over feeling irrationally weepy and my precarious emotional state had progressed into fully-fledged “if it’s standing still, bin it” mode, to the degree that poor darling Richard nearly went for a Burton as a result, with P.M.T. making me susceptible to quite the most vicious of clear-outs, of the kind that three hours later, horror at what I’d done, had me leaning into the proverbial wheelie bin at midnight in search of a little something I was mad to throw away!
So it has been a funny old weekend, but all this hysterical book chucking, loony tolerating nonsense is by the by now, when pre-scrub, rather random curiosity is burning me to such a degree I can’t help wondering, sitting here on the quietest of Sunday afternoons, what you will be wearing to scrub in: whether you my Darling Housekeepers come from the grungy, or glamorous school of home-making?
You see every morning, I get up, get showered, apply a full face of make-up and get dressed and then, and only then am I able to contemplate pulling the laundry out of the machine or running a duster over the mantle-piece.
I just can’t clean if I feel dirty, and truth be told if I haven’t clogged up my pores with foundation, climbed into clean underwear and pulled on my really scary spotty slipper socks, then dirty is exactly what I feel and without motivation I will skulk around in my nightie with a large mug of builder’s brew in my hand until the early hours of the afternoon, achieving exactly nothing and mentally berating myself for being a layout!
I need to feel pretty to make pretty.
My Mum on the other hand is only really, capable of housework prior to showering and once she has washed away the home-making grime dusting her skin, she simply wouldn’t dream of cleaning the oven in her best frock and lip-gloss. To her one gets the housework out of the way, then gets dressed and attends to the more important business of having a life beyond one’s four walls.
Where her role as a housewife has clearly defined boundaries, my day is the carefully orchestrated jumble common to those who work from home. Housework fits in amongst everything else and one can quite easily find oneself running in from delivering a child to school (where it isn’t the done thing to arrive in your dressing gown on the premise that you have got to get back to the ironing!), taking coffee with a friend, baking a quiche, doing three loads of laundry, writing five thousand words of literary genius (ahem), doing an impromptu cleaning of the loo, pulling out some weeds, talking to the headmistress and dashing to the post office before it closes: all in the same clothes. All in the kind of eye make up that says “don’t mess with me Dishwasher/Headmistress/Ex-Husband/Laundry Basket”, scented by a rather charming combination of Obsession and ammonia and wearing the kind of trousers that will neither tear nor reveal my bottom should I have to get down on my hands and knees to crawl under a bush on the playground and rescue the water bottle my six year old son has seen fit to use as bowling ball.
But it isn’t just the fact that in my very own housekeepers uniform I am ready to battle with whatever comes my way: there is also a question of self-esteem. Somehow my senses are more alert when I feel nice. I am less likely to half-do a job in a dozy fashion when I dressed and wearing eye make-up. Add high heels and I am a housekeeping wonder shimmying around like the lady in the Shake and Vac advert and ticking off boxes on my to-do list with all the efficiency of a shoulder pad toting businesswoman. Throw a snazzy coat into the mix and I dash around the house as if my life depended on it.
And so to get to the point my friends, my question this week is are you with me or my mum? Do you wear make up to de-fluff the tumble dryer? Do you feel the urge to bathe after you have cleaned the bath? Do you water the plants in your nightie or do as a friend I know does and keep a cupboard full of “cleaning clothes”? Do you have a housekeeping uniform? Do you clean the shower naked in a nod to multi-tasking or hoover in your knickers aka Rita Konig?