Sleeping is easier since I pulled the suitcases from the top of the wardrobe, emptied my bookshelves, removed all the Jewellery boxes from the side of the bed and took down paintings that I had grown out of.
But last night I was spinning around in my head, what with one thing and another and another.... Went down stairs and read the Daily Mail gossip, tickled the cat, let her upstairs so she could sleep on the bed, and finally fell asleep around two.
I awoke to John Humphries talking about the Chinese Election - or was it Erection?
Phoned SKY to complain about five months of dodgy signal, and the loss of programme after programme. The geezer from West Lothian told me the weather was shite up in Scotland, that he would give us a free engineer and a months free telly, I figured that was a reeeeesult.
Then, still wearing a pristine white bathrobe, I rolled up the sleeves three times, filled a bucket with very hot water and tile cleaner, put on a pair of lime rubber gloves, and proceeded to scrub the kitchen floor.
The flagstones first scrubbed with a brush, then wiped with a sponge, when dry, make the kitchen feel bigger. Jim, ever the patient supporter, waited for most of them to dry before he made his toast and coffee.
The cottage is now solid and clean, de-cluttered and ready for another huge clear out. After 28 years the accumulation of things is mind boggling.
Why I held onto so much is beyond me. I'm even giving away plants, it's a bit like pruning for me. I find it difficult lopping off living branches. Whilst scrubbing the kitchen floor I realised that I have the back bone of the Russian peasant stock I came from. My mother was a scrubber before me, and hers before her. I can remember my mums bum in the hallway of our East London flat whilst my brother and I argued and she twisted the floor cloth into black water.
Gae, my ex treasure was brilliant at cleaning. She came from Irish peasantry, she knew how to get into the corners. My present cleaner is wonderful but comes from quite a different stock entirely. She hasn't got the knees for it. She comes once a fortnight, works wonders with an iron, can change a king-size duvet with a flick of the wrist, but scrubbing eludes her. I am trying out a Polish woman who shouted at me for all the things in my house and told me she would have to come for one hour longer if she was going to make my home into a castle. She sounds like Borat, looks like Caprice and charges next to nothing.
You may wonder why we have a cleaner at all. My mother would have balked at the idea of somebody washing her dirty kecks or wiping up her crumbs. But my life is taken up with entirely different things from her. Reading, writing, talking, posing, interviewing - seems like a queer way of making a living.
Today, for instance, I have an appointment in Clapham with a Swede then theatre tonight for my show on Sunday. It's hardly working down the mines or neuroscience, so having a good scrub is grounding and good for the soul.
I haven't even started on decluttering the kitchen or the cellar, the thought of it makes my thighs sigh.
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Thanks, L.V. It's a quiet house nowadays. My mother was a piano teacher so the din of children thundering their pieces, the pensive tappings of nervous learners and the confidant playing of the older or wiser musicians was hushed 2 years ago. Now, the calmer sounds of my Dad as he moved through the house, the smoother tones, have gone too. My house is quiet.