This morning I woke up with a feeling of dread, and for a few seconds, I couldn't think why.
Did I have to travel to London to give a presentation on 'what journalists really want,' to a large group of eager PRs and their clients? Was the bank threatening to withdraw our sizeable overdraft facility? Had I had too much to drink the night before and promised to mow the village churchyard twice a week for the foreseeable future - starting today? All these dread provoking possibilities flashed through my mind before the grim reality of my situation hit me with the all the force of a large container of Ajax. Today I planned to clean the house in preparation for our next guests. From top to bottom. All five bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, dining room, sitting room, tv room, study, kitchen, boot room, utility room and hallway.
Mindful of the aforementioned large overdraft combined with reduced work opportunities and therefore income (hopefully side effect of the recession rather than dwindling journalistic capabilities), I had dispensed with the services of our lovely family friend and wonderful house cleaner, Linda. No more (or at least not until our finances improved - surely only a matter of time) would I sit happily in my office listening to the comfortable hum of the hoover and the swish of her duster as she rendered the house dog hair, dust and cobweb free. No longer the calm satisfaction of emerging into a veritable nirvana of shining loveliness. Now it was all up to me.
Gritting my teeth determinedly, I arose, pulled on jeans and tee shirt, downed two mugs of strong coffee and some fruit salad (vitamins and caffeine for plenty of energy), put on some red lipstick (in order to avoid depression when polishing mirrors), chucked the dog and my husband out of the house, hefted the hoover up the stairs and set to work.
For four and half hours, I hoovered, scrubbed, polished and washed floors. Over and over again, I fed sheets, towels and rugs into the washing machine's gaping mouth - and pegged the regurgitated results onto the line. Up and down the stairs I went, emptying bins, folding laundry - and finally checking all the rooms for creases, smears or missed cobwebs. At last it was done. The house sat silently, sweet smellingly thanking me for restoring cleanliness and order. The taps winked at me happily and the wooden floors gleamed under their newly freshened rugs.
All was in order, and I was tired but happy.
As I flopped down exhausted in a kitchen chair, admiring the sparkling worktops, my eye was drawn to a half full bottle of wine. Du vin, du pain, and a bit of cheddar, I murmured sexily to myself. Just right for a hard working girl.
Just then the front door opened and in came Linda. I was happy to see her. I couldn't afford her cleaning services any more, but I could still have lunch with her.