It helps if you can whistle

Sunday October 17, 2004

They tell me the sun will shine tomorrow and that’ll be good for the spirits on a day when I pitch in hard and long to an in-depth house cleaning session. I’ve checked for an adequacy of household chemicals and the readiness of cleaning cloths. And I’ve bought myself a new pair of man-size black rubber gloves to withstand the one and aid in the wielding of the other. I’d say I’m looking forward to it if that were true. Sadly, the prospect fills me with gloom and dread.

A couple of years back, maybe three, I relished the task of cleaning house. Since then for one reason or another I’ve come to loath it. I hate to think what my home would be like if I lived along all the time. Great changes would have to be made.

The first thing that would have to go would be every carpet in the house. I’m not even sure about rugs anymore and think I’d take a judgement on a size and weight basis. A rug that can be thrown in the washer or taken outside for a jolly good beating in the fresh air is something I can live with. One that’s too big or too heavy to move is no use to me at all. The only kind of floor that works for a bloke who despises cleaning is one that can be swept when the dust gathers and wet-washed when the grime starts to get sticky. I’d go for wood if I could afford it. If not then laminate or vinyl planking. And, in the wet areas, ceramic tiles.

Then, curtains. I’m not sure about curtains anymore. I’m not sure I have an alternative but there must be one. For preference, I’d go for windows without covering of any kind. Not always practical, but something to aim for. I don’t mind sweeping a damp cloth over a windowsill, lifting pots and plants as I go, and there’s still a degree of satisfaction in cleaning windows, but I really do not like struggling with a vacuum cleaner to suck dust out of curtains.

And so through the house, eliminating dirt traps and making changes to reduce future cleaning chores. Like bookshelves. Open book shelves are nothing more than an endless series of future major dusting and wiping jobs. Book shelves with glazed doors are far more to my liking. Lamps with fabric covers are another headache; they look good when you buy them and then, a couple of years on, you wake one day to find they’ve been transformed into fly-spotted, dust-velvetted monstrosities. Out with them, replace them with glass shades that can be washed.

I shall think about all this tomorrow while I’m labouring with an ear-splittingly noisy vacuum cleaner that’s really too heavy for me to handle and with carpets that are purpose-designed to hold on to cat hair and household dust to the bitter end.

I’ll get the job done, though. By the end of the day there’ll be evidence in every room and on every surface that I’ve done my best. I may even whistle while I work. It helps if you can whistle.



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