It has taken a long time but I have finally worked out why me and mine are all so untidy. We have the wrong genes. I know this sounds suspiciously convenient as an explanation, but bear with me for the reasoning. I have plenty of 'clean queen' friends who are tidy as well as charming, and whose houses all look like they are being photographed every afternoon for Home Beautiful. They seem to be naturally tidy, have married tidy men who like to spend their weekends manicuring the lawn, and give birth to tidy children who come to my house and say things like, 'Did you know there are dirty handprints all over your fridge?' and, 'Why are there toys all over the floor?', not spitefully, you understand, but merely in a helpful spirit of observation and inquiry.
'But how do you know,' I hear you ask, 'that this inclination for tidiness is genetic, and not merely the result of careful training and habitual hard work?' Well, dear reader, it has come to my attention that there are many people who simply cannot abide mess. It makes them nervous and agitated and they cannot sit still until everything in sight is clean. Anything out of place affects them physically, and they can no more walk past a stray object on the floor than fail to stop at a red light. Needless to say, there is no-one living here with any such impulses. For days now I have been walking past a decapitated Barbie head under my wardrobe, vaguely wondering how it got there, and worse, severa days ago Posy came and took the waste paper bin out of my room. 'I need it,' she said solemnly, 'for a project.' I have no idea what she did with it, because it has disappeared completely, but ever since then I have been throwing rubbish on the floor where the bin was, assuming she will bring it back sometime... It was this piece of sluttish behaviour that convinced me once and for all that any state of tidiness I might achieve will only ever be fleeting. I really do have to pay constant attention to stop the house sliding back into a state of entropy. I do appreciate the aesthetic qualities of a clean and pleasant house. It's just that I don't rate them highly compared to about two hundred and fifty six other more interesting things I might be doing instead. So, a cleaning routine approached with academic determination, holding an inner vision of a clean and pleasant home firmly in my mind, and eternal vigilance is my best line of defence against encroaching clutter and appalling filth. I really don't want to end up like the old ladies walled into cottages by piles of newspapers and a lifetime's collection of old clothes and china knick knacks.
But there are consolations. I get to lie on the couch among the glorious confusion that comes on our house by about four in the afternoon. I will be drinking tea and reading 101 Dalmations to the children while the Clean Queens have to vacuum and clean dirty handmarks off the fridge..
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