CLEANING IS THE PENALTY we pay for not living naked in the wilds. When you don’t wash your hair, it starts to clean itself after a few weeks. When you don’t clean your house for a few weeks, it looks like Tutankhamen’s tomb.
One of the awful things about cleaning is that you can’t start it until you’ve done tidying. And you can’t do tidying until you’ve done sorting, and you can’t do that until you’ve got fundamental problems in your relationship ironed out … or watched the rugby.
Men should be obliged by law to clean toilet bowls. Unbeknown to women, men never lift the seat, ever. Lifting the seat would create a larger target area and less of a challenge. In fact, sometimes we bounce up and down just to make life more difficult for ourselves. Naturally this sometimes causes accidents, but they’re difficult to spot in the dark.
Men don’t clean very often, but when they do they like to vacuum. The vacuum cleaner has an engine, therefore it must be a toy. Men like to see just how much a Hoover can suck up, and will happily spend a couple of hours sucking the crumbs from the toaster, the curtains from the wall, and the topsoil from the garden.
Dust is the silent particulate presence of your mother-in-law in the house. Seeing dust anywhere gives you the sickening feeling that her finger will find it on her regular flying inspections. Dust, like poison, can be removed by sucking. Modern vacuum cleaners allow you to pick up all the dust from various rooms and then transfer it to your lungs, hair and clothing as you try to change the bag, bin, filter, etc.
Cleaning solutions come in two flavours: lemon or pine. Never use the two together unless you want to end up with a funny tropical-pine-forest smell. Really effective cleaning solutions remove fingerprints from all surfaces including your fingers.
Cleaners are divided into those who clean behind the fridge and those who sweep loose frozen peas under the fridge. Some people clean religiously to purge their inner demons, and some people clean because they’ve lost a member of the family under the rubble. Some people use rubber gloves to clean the house. This is slightly eccentric because you didn’t use protective equipment to make the house filthy, so why use it to clean the place up?
It’s a great feeling when the cleaning is over, and you can relax in a sparkling house. This is the moment you decide that if things got bad you could clean houses for a living. Or you decide that things have got bad and you’re going to get a cleaner. Attitudes to cleaning have changed now and many people have a cleaner. This is still only acceptable for domestic cleaning – people would be a little bit surprised if you had a weekly cleaner in to tackle your armpits.
© GUY BROWNING IS AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.