I cleaned the kitchen. I told the Systems Administrator yesterday that I was planning to and that there was no implied pressure for the SA to join in. I really couldn't face the idea of cleaning until a couple of days ago, and if the SA still couldn't that was perfectly OK, except that I was not going to not clean so as to not make the SA feel guilty. When I was a child one of our many mother's helps used to start crashing around doing housework after my parents got back from their day at the university. My father insisted that she only did it to annoy him. Perhaps she was trying to demonstrate how hard she worked. She was not a very bright woman, and we were brattish children, and it can't have been very pleasant for her living in an academic house where brightness was prized above all other attributes. I developed a taste for soda bread under her charge, and absorbed the lesson that you should be careful how you do domestic chores around other people.
The SA understood that there was no passive aggressive subtext to my outburst of cleaning, and asked slightly nervously what that was, pointing to a strange purple brown smear underneath his end of the kitchen table. I said that I was fairly sure it was a piece of cherry compote that one of us had trodden on and not cat shit, based on the purplish tinge and its position right next to the table leg where I'd been cooking. I think it was squashed cherry on the kitchen floor, but the brownish patch in the downstairs corridor that I've been walking past for days while refusing to look at it too closely was definitely mouse blood. I wiped it away, along with the spaghetti shaped dark loop near the letter box and several black-brown splashes, while the SA gallantly cleaned up the pile of fresh cat sick from the chair in front of my desk.
I love cats but it cannot be denied that they make a mess. They hunt, they bring their dead things in, and leave little puddles of blood and tiny entrails on the floor, sometimes with a garnish of grass stems. They eat the things they catch, or else they bolt their meals down too fast, and then they are sick. Or they don't eat the things but leave them for you to find, maybe tastefully laid out in front of the telly or perhaps hidden under a chair as a surprise. They walk around outside on the wet muddy ground and then leave footprints on the furniture. They moult. Their fur will stick to everything, but especially anything with an electrostatic charge, like an electric Aga. This is why our house has no carpets downstairs and only one rug of any value (and that has been put away upstairs since the kittens arrived), and why every chair we possess is made of wood or else covered in leather (or at least plastic imitation leather) which can be wiped, if necessary with disinfectant. No chintz, no throws. I used to know somebody whose partner after one visit here asked her when they were going to get a cat. Her hall and her sitting room had champagne pink fitted carpets. You could tell it just wasn't going to happen.