Back in BritUKland we used to have a cleaner and a very nice lady she was too. She would turn up every Wednesday and clean every nook and cranny and once a month she would clean the oven. Cleaning ovens is officially the worst cleaning job in the world (though obviously mopping up murder scenes or swabbing the bogs at Glastonbury puts it to a respectable third). Unfortunately, because of the high cost of living in Swizzerland, cleaners earn the same as hedge fund managers and have to be provided with a company car, a Blackberry and a corner office. We can barely afford the cleaning products, let alone the staff.
But, being a Virgo*, I quite enjoy cleaning in a weird kind of way. I like the transformation from trashed to clean (though the effect is fleeting), I like doing any job well and if I do it right it takes about 2 1/2 hours…and I’ll be sweating at the end. In Swizzerland, the lack of choice makes buying cleaning products very easy. You can buy bleach, bog cleaner, floor cleaner (Ajax – the Greek god of cleaning) and the ever-present Cif (one of the worst product names ever. It sounds like a medical condition: Sorry, I can’t swim today, I have a bit of cif, but I am treating it with yoghurt and anti-histamines…) and that’s about it. You just have to make do.
Where am I going with this? Oh, I dunno, but I feel a list coming on:
Hoovering I have already written a post about vacuum cleaners and my dislike of all things Dyson. Dyson are very clever at gilding the lily but when it comes down to it it is still just a hoover. We have a Henry – which is the hoover with the eyes and I always thought: ‘…99% of office cleaners can’t be wrong.’ The reason it is so good is that it is so simple; fan-sucks-air-though-bag. Done. What I want is a vacuum cleaner backpack with a a trigger on the sucky thing that shoots out – telescopically; kids lightsabre style – the small nozzly thingy for doing the corners. It is probably already out there on the internet, but it is just not an important enough part of my life to warrant investing time searching for it. Also, the great thing about the Swiss is that they are great believers in having parquet or floorboards as opposed to carpet. The idea of having fluffy fabric on the floor now feels insane; like having shoes made out of biscuits or a felt umbrella.
Bogs You can buy enough Toilet Duck to sluice out an army latrine but the bottom (eh? see what I did there?) line is you have to get a marigold on and get down there and scrub. I don’t mind cleaning toilets too much but I am sometimes shocked at other people’s. Not because I am some clean-freak voyeur, sneering at the depravity of some people’s hygiene but rather the fact that I know they employ a cleaner and if it were me I’d hand the cleaner some marigolds, a scourer and a bottle of Limelight and tell them to hit the head or hit the road. On a side note, my son has some kind of aversion to flushing the toilet – whether he does a pee or a poo – and he once pee’d in the toilet before we went on holiday and since then that toilet has continually smelt like the bogs of my old student union; no matter how much Cif, Ajax and bleach we chuck at it. I worried we’re going to have to re-tile or something.
Polishing I have discovered – to my utter, utter horror – that some furniture polish disolves the paint on the cute pink (or blue) kids furniture from IKEA. I entered my daughter’s bedroom one day after she had secured a can of Pledge (or Swiss equivalent. They have lots of unfortunate product names so let us christen this one Minge) and used it to clean her set of drawers. By the time I came in it was like Sweeney Todd‘s with red everywhere: floor, walls, her, doors. Anyway, I have always found it strange polishing furniture that is worth less than the product you are using to clean it. We have a few bits of nice furniture, but I am not going to crack open a can of beeswax just for them. I do dust, but luckily for me all the dust seems to be on the television: result.
As I said, I don’t mind cleaning, but half the battle is putting shit away. It takes me an hour to pick up the bits of Lego, Playmobil helmets and swords, Barbie shoes and brushes, pens, paper, (fucking) glitter, odd socks, stickers (that normally won’t adhere to paper but will stick forever to wood), hair clips, pasta and the ever present big-dust that is ricecake bits.
If I were a time lord I would go back in time and un-invent ricecakes. And glitter. Is the world any better for either of them?
* I am in no way saying that I believe in Astrology. I believe in Biology, tautology, methodology and just about any other ology – but believing that because you’re born on a particular day it somehow controls your life? Are you shitting me? That’s bloody crackers.