I’ve had a few, over the years. My mother has always said, ‘There’s dignity in every job – even cleaning.’ She’s not wrong, of course there is, but cleaning is the job that I find most soul-destroying beyond all others; although like most right-minded people, I like things to be clean, if not tidy. You wouldn’t be able to tell that if you came round. We have an open fire. We have a dog. We have a cat. I have muddy boots. And inside I wear, not slippers, but more boots. It’s not what you’d call pristine, especially in winter.
No-one would pay me to clean – not if they were in their right minds anyway… which is how I came to be paid to be a cleaner… more than once. Actually, I was never employed in that role straight, because, knowing my shortcomings, I would never have applied. No, I have ended up being a cleaner, by default, and more than once.
My worst job was washing plates in a very posh restaurant. When they advertised the post, I am not sure what I thought I’d be doing. Maybe I didn’t imagine there would be that much washing up to do. There was and I was bad at it. I got to prep vegetables, once. The rest of the time I was ducking as the bad tempered chef, Roger, yelled ‘Hot!’ and chucked a sizzling pan over my head into the large industrial sink. They sacked me from that job.
Another time I was a kennel maid. Again, I don’t know what I thought I was going to be doing – stroking dogs and cuddling cats probably. Perhaps walking the former too, on occasion. Wrong. All I did was clean up after dogs and cats, and feed them and clean up after feeding them. After all that, there was no time for cuddling or walks.
I worked in a saddlery in Mayfair. Jeremy Irons came in once, as did Princess Haya of Jordan (now the wife of Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai). I loved being surrounded by polo saddles and boots and bridles and riding hats and jackets. Except there’s not so much call for that kind of thing just off Savile Row. So we weren’t very busy – ergo cleaning. Ugh.
And then, what brought me to this post, was the memory of working as a mother’s help. You can’t be called a nanny without the qualification really. Anyway, you are taken on to look after children, but inevitably your employer finds a window in your week where you can do some lovely cleaning. I was reminded of all this today when I cleaned out all the hair caught in the shower trap. There really should be a name for that phenomenon. A name that fully encapsulates the smelly and disgusting slime ball that I have to deal with. Fair enough, these days, its my hair and the girls. But back in the day, when I was a mother’s help in Darling Buds of May land, it was mainly my employer’s hair.
This morning, I could not help but think, that even if I was ever as rich as Croesus, I would always clean the hair out of the plughole myself. Always.
Just imagine, I’ve taken more than a week off proper blogging and that is all I can come up with. Sorry.