Housekeepers Diary

Outside the ground is crunchy with hail that kept you wide awake in the small hours. Inside the house is slouching and you aren't in the mood for helping her pull her socks up so you pin the morning away, downing coffee instead of food and hoping the bathroom will clean itself, but knowing full well that it won't. For she is a slovenly thing your bathroom: given to strewing towels all over the floor and letting herself go at the merest hint of human neglect. Today there is something is twitching inside you. Begging for who knows what. Maybe an oatcake topped with blue cheese and an olive. Maybe a holiday in somewhere far flung. You don't know. You have sat in absolute silence and tried to converse with your muse but she is keeping her cards close to her buxom chest and wants to indulge herself by forcing you to play guessing games in order to solve the mystery of her discontent. But you aren't in the mood for games.

You make more coffee and nibble on a stick of cinnamon shortbread and on a whim grasp a handful of old floral tea-towels and cut them into dusters. More and more now pattern seems like noise and you are determined to seek hush in all things. Your duster bag is bursting with cabbage roses and teeny Liberty inspired buds. You  really should dust. You could write a sonnet in the dust on the black hearth.

But instead you start clearing out the cleaning cupboard. Though you try as much as possible to keep cleaning products down to the bare minimum somehow they multiply all by themselves and bottles of washing up liquid in scents you can taste on your clean dishes,  mingle with silver cleaner and brasso, soft soap you never use and a toxic bottle of something that surely made it's way into your organic household all by itself? You tut as you give each bottle it's marching orders. Refusing to listen to their pleas for sanctuary. Refusing to be persuaded by their cries of you will need me someday.

You won't. This is what you know for sure now. When it comes to housekeeping, there are very few needful things, beyond persistence and elbow grease. You can't buy either in the supermarket. And they take up little house room but plenty of space in your head if only because you are rarely willing to exchange them for the sparkly house you have convinced yourself you already live in...

Now you find yourself crawling around on the kitchen floor. Poking a brush under the oven to drag out any ugly secrets you might have unknowingly stashed there. You pull out a ball of foil, a furry catnip mouse and a pink feather and admonish your rather appalled cat for turning out to be a feline hoarder. Your fear of clutter is becoming more prevalent by the day and you suspect there will be nothing left in the house soon beyond the clothes you are standing up in and more books than any one woman could ever imagine she needs.

Each day you strip a little more life back. Giving up things you once thought you could not live without and letting go of much it turns out you did not need after all. It is addictive this freeing up space in your head. You can't stop. You need the thrill of tying up another bin-bag and considering yourself virtuous. You need to prove to yourself that you are in control, for a vintage life has a tendency to spill into the nooks and crannies of your home, rendering your world so messy you cannot think straight. You need the thrill of empty space now. Your bedroom, your most private space, is almost monastic. Proof you are winning. Proof you are alive.

Oh. There is something of the manic about you today isn't there?   A coffee fuelled internal fight you cannot contain. Cats and muses alike feel your adoring wrath and promise to toe the line, while you pick up strewn towels and start to run a geranium scented bath, beaming at yourself in the greasy venetian mirror and muttering today's mantra under your breath...

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Yes. There is something of the manic about you today.

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