What is there about cleaning that is inspirational?There is lots that is just hard physical work and testing of tolerance for human beings -that is if you run a short term rental.After a series of great guests ,have had a run of wingers ,frying pan destroyers and ,worst of all ,sticky fingers Sticky fingers I mean on walls ,on every surface of glass ,tables,chairs and floors .Now no more free kids,my heart is hardened -kids pay double .
So have stated some of the worse aspects of cleaning ,now for the not exactly benefits ,lets call them compensations or maybe just optimisations ,making the best of a bad job.
The following piece of writing came from cleaning a year ago. .As I folded the corners of a resistant sheet I remembered how my mother was so strict about how we made beds(interestingly we didn’t do that very often as we had servants in the old Colonial Africa to perform such menial tasks.But if a very special guest was visiting then my mother waded in to ensure that appearances were preserved ,and the “girl” could not be relied on to do that ,so I was roped in).As I struggled with the corners of 3 queens and 2singles,my mind wandered from sheets to dust to witchcraft,then on to beauty,age and dying:
Things my Mother Taught Me
You taught me always to pull back sheets and inspect mattresses,
look for evidence of habitation
check the springs and indentations .
You told me to fold sheets at corners first,hospital style .
I had to unmake many beds because the corners were not right ,
the bedding was not tight .
I never mastered the skill,till now
making tidy corners for paying guests .
Ran your fingers over shelves to check for dust ,first thing
as you came into a room in your finery
dressed for entertaining
No one knew we had a witches in our family :
Tante Ena ,who wove enchantments with her pubic hair
We looked carefully at the liquid in our cups to make sure it was safe to drink
that there was no single floating pubic hair.
As a child I wondered if thats why we were checking mattresses too ,
just in case another Aunty had been there ,
leaving some voodoo magic buried in the room.
I met her later, that aunt ,very ill and carefully groomed
living with the man she’d stolen away .
I knew then that witches do not always look like witches .
Tante Ena didn’t look like Grandmere Maure ,the old wizened woman
crouched over her cards in a gloomy ,overgrown verandah
dark as the ace of spades, my father used to say
(He said a lot more about that side of the family)
Why did they take me there,to that crazy woman in the dark ?
My first cousin ,the beautiful one ,a great grandchild of the ugly witch
was a witch too,but a doomed witch.
Her beauty killed her in the end
she enchanted her way to money and ease
and died by her own hand .
Oh Tessa in the London apartment over looking Kensington Park
sitting on a stool in front of your mirror
preparing to go out
applying make up to your perfect skin, green eyes smiling at me in the glass
kind to an admiring ill dressed cousin
watching with stars in her eyes ,
so pleased to meet the errant one .
She was named after you ,mum,your godchild.
Theres the connection :two beautiful women a generation apart
one died young
the other has become old and sad
and witches ,scattered throughout the years ,
are still around
I know .