Saturday, 24 October 2009

Topping And Bottoming

When one of my friends cleans her house she calls it “Topping and Bottoming” the place. It always made me giggle when she said it because her house is always spotless anyway. As was ours till we bought the boat and put it up for sale. After throwing out around 80 black bags, (a separate procedure I called "House Cleansing”) it really did look like a show-home for a while there. Well, to be fair to myself it always did, even with tons of rubbish hidden away in cupboards.

I remember one of my mum’s friends from many years ago, let’s call her Ethel.

Over the years Ethel had become obsessed with cleaning to the point whereby her only conversation consisted of housework. It was sad, but this is how much it had taken over her life. Real conversation had fizzled out completely to be replaced by the likes of:

How many loads of washing she’d done in the past couple of days. Coloureds, non-coloureds, bedding, and washing temperatures were all thrown in as a bonus.

Then there’d be the dramatic update regarding which rooms she’d hoovered that day and in which order. The gory details of the last time she had to empty the hoover bag were included. I think this was akin to boasting about how many miles to the gallon you can get out of your car.

If you tried changing the subject to (for example) the weather, there would be a long tirade about how good a day it was for drying things. Wind speed, (blow dry action) angle of the sun, (which fabrics dry first through to last). And where the shadows would be for longest because washing stays damp, blah blah.

As for the ironing, well there’d be enough spoken rhetoric to make a movie out of it, although I suspect it’s viewing figures wouldn’t be very high. She even used to proudly announce that she ironed her husbands underpants and socks, one had to silently beg the burning question “For the fun of it?” or “Can you just not help yourself?” Then at some point there’d be an argument between Ethel and herself about just how many of his shirts she’d ironed, was it 2 or 3?

Once the exact number had been correctly verified. A “shirt history” would follow. It consisted of the details of which shirt was worn where, why, even when, and there could even be a verbal dispute about that too. By this time you’d be secretly praying to yourself Hurry up and get on with it before I die.

As an encore each cleaning “aid” bought from the local market was given marks out of 10 for effectiveness. You knew which items were value for money when you got directions to the market stall they came from. But really they were all just crap.

Even offering a cup of tea brought on a list of how many had been gulped that day and where she was at the time. Believe me, it was a relief if she’d left her washing pegged out, because she had to leave early.

So if you’re still awake I think I’ve discovered a new “read yourself to sleep” cure for insomniacs. Instead of counting sheep, read this 10 times & you’ll be unconscious for a week. Hell it nearly put me to sleep just writing it.

When I started this post it was all supposed to be about “Boat cleaning” as opposed to “House Cleaning.”

You see I’d still like to be able to call it “Topping & Bottoming” but discounting the presence of an upstairs here. I can only call it by the unfortunate name of “bottoming” alone. When I announce without enthusiasm that “I’m going to bottom the boat today dear,” [so make sure your bottom isn't in the way] somehow it just doesn’t have the same sound to it.

Oh no! I suddenly feel the need to list what I’ve cleaned today, products used (and where to buy them). How long it took me to hoover and guess what? New improved Fairy Power Spray even made the cooker gleam! Perhaps post a few photos? (Stop it…)

But there’s no need to worry is there? I’m not becoming obsessed and I know this because? If the boat looks clean which it does most of the time, then any tarting up gets left till necessity dictates. Today was one of those rare days…

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