Today is Tuesday, Julie’s day. For two hours she assaults the house, ferociously cleaning while we drive the short distance to the supermarket, order a snack in the café, chat groggily, fiddle with our mobiles, buy some groceries, and return home. Being careful not to slip on the shining wet kitchen floor.
VR and I used to split the cleaning, leading to much bad temper and, in my case, bad language. A decade of Julie has been like cauterising a wound. We pay her well and occasionally speculate on how much more we’d pay if it were necessary.
Julie arrives at 8 am, thus imposing a demanding schedule. I’m up at 7 am, ridiculous given I’ve been retired for 27 years. I rise before VR to allow her a further fifteen minutes in bed as I shave without turning on the light in the en suite. I’m proud of shaving by touch. Dangerous, of course, but perhaps it proves I’m not a cissy.
Then I get the car out of the garage which would be impossible once Julie’s car enters the driveway. She enters the house full of beans at a time when its owners’ bean count is quite low. The world turns.
I reflect on my Grannie Stringer who died aged 96, having caught a cold sweeping the outdoor cellar steps. Domestic drudgery to her was as natural as breathing – unquestioning and spurning all modern aids. How would she react to our spending money on a cleaner? In her Yorkshire idiom, she’d reckon nowt (1) to it, paying to do summat (2) we could do ourselves. Niver.
There are still those who ennoble repetitive physical work, somehow believing it shrives them. Me? I write about it, turning despair into gold. Mild steel, at least.
(1) Disapproves. (2) Something