Three degrees at 8:30am. Sunshine and clear skies. The breeze has become more noticeable overnight.
I have to admit I've had my head in the sand. Yes, yes, I'm ashamed to say it. I've been involved in hectic displacement activity for at least the last three weeks : frantic craft activities with the children, lots of reading Christmas stories and researching Christmas traditions, several bouts of Christmas shopping, and much to-do surrounding the kindergarten Christmas festa...
But the time has come to face the truth.
The time has come to clean the house. (Mama reaches for a brown paper bag and blows into it.) There's a lot to do and only a small window of opportunity before I find another excuse not to.
Standing in the middle of a rather dishevelled bathroom, inspiration comes to me. It must have been Fay Weldon who once wrote : "The cleaner the house, the angrier the woman in it". So, I reason, all I have to do is get angry and the house cleans itself. Rather (but not quite) like The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Rather more like Samantha in Bewitched.
Now the English are world-famous for not allowing themselves to get angry. And I'm no exception. The steam may be coming out of my ears but I'm still smiling a polite smile and offering tea. It may not be easy, but I think it's worth a try...
Positioning myself in front of the toilet, I stand feet apart, arms akimbo, and try for an angry frown. The toilet squats impassively in the corner and doesn't move - it doesn't even flush itself. Hmmm.
I start to mutter under my breath, approaching the sinks menacingly. Nothing. Not even a drip. Okay...
Now I'm trying really hard. I close my eyes, still my mind, concentrate, concentrate. I combine my hardest Paddington hard stare with some choice Old Norse(1). My words ring around the stone walls. I do it again for effect. As the echo dies I open my eyes into the shocked silence. I look around, flushed and embarrassed at having made such a scene (even though I'm alone), but I'm deeply disappointed to see not even the slightest flurry of dust to denote the dressing table might be dusting itself. Nothing doing. Nothing at all. Niente.
Defeated, I gaze up at the basket of dusty cleaning products hung from a nail in a ceiling beam away from 3-year-old hands. As I'm reaching for them, I suddenly have more inspiration.
Where's that 3-year-old and his side-kick? Either: a.) they'll provide me with a reason to get really angry in a very un-English way and I may at last prove Ms Weldon right; b.) they'll provide me with an excuse to abandon the idea of cleaning altogether; or c.) and best of all, I can teach them to do it for me. And with a bit of luck Mamma can close that window of opportunity and go make a cup of tea.
(1) Old Norse? Of course! As the language that provided English with its most effective and least printable swear words. Interestingly, Old Norse also supplied English with the word 'angry'.