The great cleaning project continues. I am writing this earlier than usual just to get away from it for a bit. I have vacuumed the bedroom. Boy, have I vacuumed, all the bits of carpet and skirting board you can't reach in a normal session when you remain standing and just push the sweeper head around the floor at the end of its metal tube. Assembling and disassembling the cleaner into different combinations of sweeper and tubes and wriggling on my stomach I have done under the very middle of the bed, and the skirting boards behind the chests of drawers, and the top of the wardrobe. And the curtains, and the shades of both bedside lights. Balanced on my dressing table stool with the vacuum cleaner I have done the lampshade of the central pendant ceiling light. I took everything out of the wicker laundry basket and cleaned that, and vacuumed underneath it.
It began to feel as though I was going through the full Good Housekeeping routine recently lampooned by Lucy Mangan in her excellent Guardian column, except that I did not unscrew the bulb of the ceiling light and wipe it. She is right, it is a ridiculous way for a sentient human being to spend their day, except that unfortunately houses do get so extraordinarily filthy, and in the end my Quentin Crisp-like disdain for dust cracked. Something had to be done.
I took the shoes and fleeces out of the bottom of my wardrobe and vacuumed the floor, and in violation of the Systems Administrator's privacy removed the shoes, backpack and ancient computer bag repaired with a homemade knotted string handle (no, I don't know why either. I expect it was something we took on the boat) from the SA's wardrobe and vacuumed the bottom of that as well. I took everything off the SA's bedside table and sorted it out. The assortment of bolts, screws and an electric screwdriver bit are bound for the workshop, as is the instruction booklet for the leaf blower. Nobody needs to keep a leaf blower booklet on their bedside table. The assorted loose change went in the change pot in the study, and the test match tickets from 2013 went in the bin. I don't think the SA was keeping them as a souvenir, but I put all the old race cards in the spare room to be boxed away with the others when I get round to it.
I polished my dressing table and both chests of drawers and the bedside tables and the wooden boxes where I keep my sewing kit and necklaces with balsam flavoured wood cream. They looked happier afterwards, and the room smelt reassuringly of cleaning, which was nice since last night's shepherd's pie must have dripped in the Aga making the clean kitchen smelt discouragingly of burnt gravy. Actually, I was rather disappointed at how quickly Saturday's efforts were dissipating. Joan Rivers hated housework because you make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again, but it would be good if it could last more than a day before the floors began to accumulate the next layer of gravel, cat hairs, and fluff. When I came downstairs this morning I found a dead leaf in the middle of the kitchen table. How did that get there?
I sorted out the pile of things that had been sitting on one of the chests of drawers since moving them out of reach of the cats months ago to stop them being broken. I investigated whether the light bulbs I bought to replace one in a reading light that got broken when Mr Fluffy knocked it off a table fitted (they did) and decided to risk reinstating the bowl of wooden fruit on the dining table, and the mirrored boat shaped ornament that was a twenty-fifth anniversary present on the sitting room window sill. That may yet prove to be a rash move since it isn't so very long since the cats destroyed a pair of binoculars knocking them off the window sill, but I thought we couldn't keep everything in storage for ever.
I vacuumed the slats of the bed, and put my pillows on to wash, one pillow at a time. I dusted the tops of the picture frames, and as much of the ceiling as I could reach. I wiped the tiny splatters of bird crap off the electric bar fire I keep for chilly mornings, and wondered what a bird was doing in the bedroom in the first place, and vacuumed the crevices behind the radiator and washed the top of it and the annoying little indentations along the bottom, while thinking how if only we had underfloor heating I wouldn't have to. There is no way we are going to get underfloor heating, or a cleaner, which would be how I wouldn't have to do any of it. One of the bargains you make when you downshift is that some of your newly free time will be spent making, mending, and cleaning things which when you were in full time gainful employment you paid other people to mend or clean, or bought new ones. Actually, when we were both in full time employment we still didn't have a cleaner. We tried once, but disliked the routine of having to tidy up before she came, and she hated the cats. And I don't really want somebody else rooting around in the bottom of my wardrobe. And unless you find a real treasure I darkly suspect they don't vacuum the bed slats or the tops of wardrobes.
I am now off to clean the bathroom. Tomorrow I had better do something else, before we all give up with boredom.