QUICK! THE CLEANER’S COMING
Given we barely know each other, and I’d like to forge some kind of relationship, we should get the grubby out of the way from the beginning.
Be up front, you know? Get off on the right foot and all of that. A good, clean slate.
To that end, what is it with ‘panic cleans’ when people are coming over? How is it we can live with a day-to-day level of muck in the house, but the minute the phone rings and someone from the outside is on the way in, all cleaning hell breaks loose? Are you with me?
It’s a lot like the pre-cleaning-lady clean, only more intense.
We don’t have a cleaning lady, but Mum did. Her name was Mrs Skene, Mum called her Skeney-baby. She came on alternate Tuesdays, which turned alternate Monday nights into a type of cleaning torture. It never made sense to us kids that the house had to be spotless so Skeney-baby had less to do.
Then, when we had a cleaning-person (because “cleaning lady” got cleaned out in the mid-90s PC push) we did exactly the same thing as my mother.
And the cleaning team would come through with their backpack vacs and bottles of cleaning fluid and re-clean exactly what we’d done about 12 hours earlier. Weird, eh?
And it was a cleaning team, too, because everyone’s on a team now. Team members help you out in Bunnings and Harvey Norman and Coles and Big W. Team Leaders tell the team mates what to do which is much better than the old days when the managers told the the assistants how to suck eggs. It’s all the same stuff, only the labels have changed, and because we’re on the same team, everyone’s much “happier”.
The crazy thing is, the only people who aren’t on teams, are the ones who were actual teams. Like football teams: now they’re playing groups.
I tell you, the older I get the dumber I get because none of it makes any sense.
We don’t have a cleaning anything anymore, it’s just us: me, my wife and three kids. We live in a wonky old house that seems to burp up more than its fair share of dust. There’s Spud the dog, who’s managed to trick us into letting her sleep on the couch and two chickens (yes, it’s a suburban hobby farm) who live on the outdoor furniture because it’s closer to the action than the chicken coop. When I say action, I mean back door, because that’s where the crusts and scraps come from.
I reckon they learnt it from the dog. I reckon Spuddy cut a deal with the chooks and said to them, “I’ll show you how this place works if you sacrifice one of yourselves to me on the shortest day of the year. You can choose who I get to eat.”
I reckon Spud was planning some kind of animal Hunger Games-type thing that backfired. After the first winter solstice, the chickens rebelled, held an uprising and took control of the back stairs. They try and eat the dog’s dinner before she does and God help Spud if she goes on an egg hunt.
The eight of us have the capacity to create a tsunami of stuff that needs attention.
Feathers, crap, clothes, dust, toys, books, papers, hair elastics, bobby pins, shoes (my God, the shoes) washing, dishes, wetsuits – it’s endless. Literally. And it’s normal. And we live with it as though it is normal because, to us, it is.
I mentioned the ‘panic clean’ to my wife last night and she said how she wished we lived in one of those houses where they’re always tidy. I said, “like ours after we’ve done a panic clean?”.
And she said, “yes, but some people live like that all the time”.
I assured her they didn’t, they’re just better panic cleaners than we are. And they have sensors at their front gate that alert them to intruders. And they don’t have chickens who think they’re dogs. And their dogs don’t dig holes in the lawn.
And they’re not normal – not like we are.
*Andrew Daddo’s been around for a while. His first real TV job as host of the ABC’s national music show The Factory led to a year in New York as the first Australian MTV “VJ.” He returned to tackle just about everything with clip shows like The World’s Greatest Commercials and Australia’s Funniest People before comfortably adapting to the news program 11am. He’s presented the Olympics with Seven in Sydney and Beijing, and enjoyed the life of a professional traveller with The Great Outdoors.
Andrew is an accomplished author, having written best-selling books for all ages - picture books, chapter books, short story collections, young adult novels and adult non-fiction. He enjoyed a weekly column with the Sydney Morning Herald until being recently restructured from the paper and writes for Australian Golf Digest. He spends a great deal of time talking in schools pushing the importance of literacy.
Andrew lives on the northern beaches with his wife and three children, is half the golfer he’d like to be. His latest books are the hilarious series for young readers about a sleepwalking dog called Skoz, and a reworking of the best-selling Cheeky Monkey.