Saturday, 25 May 2013


Odd how attached I can get to an inanimate object.

It’s my task in the house to look after the bathroom. I know that doesn’t sound like much, so I do the kitchen sink and the stove too. Still doesn’t sound like much? Not like a fair share? Well, it probably isn’t, but I try to make up by putting a lot of love into the work.

’s surprising because when I first faced the prospect of cleaning a toilet, the very idea disgusted me. But experience changes attitudes. It’s like the first time one of the boys peed into a bath I was about to share with him, and I emptied and refilled it; second time round, I just thought ‘screw it, the dilution must be enormous’ and got on with it. We enjoyed the bath and neither of us was any the worse for it.

These days, having got used to cleaning the toilet, I take enormous pride in a sparkling loo, perhaps because there’s real satisfaction in having turned something that is inherently dirty into something which is spectacularly clean. And it’s all the more good for my soul if I look around the whole bathroom and I see the shelves and the windowsill dustless and sweet-smelling, while the taps gleam. 

Got to get a gleam on them, or you haven’t succeeded
Gleaming taps: yes, that’s the real measure of success, because if you don’t get metalwork that you could use as a shaving mirror, well what have you really achieved in cleaning a bathroom?

This work naturally requires an array of tools and products. But in between all the different plastic bottles, the sponges and scrubbing implements, one object has become a particular friend of mine: an old rag. Not any old rag: we have lots, and there’s only that I particularly like. It’s part of an old sheet, so it isn’t even the only rag that looks like it, but somehow it’s just the right size to dry and shine what I want before needing to be dried out again.

My comfort rag, getting a rest and drying between work spells
And don't think I'm  happy we're still heating the house in May
So whenever I start work on the bathroom the first thing I do is try to find my old friendly rag. If I can’t, if it’s in the wash, I prefer to put off the task until it’s ready. You dont start a really key task without your old reliable mate, do you?

OK, so may be a bit of a comfort blanket, I admit it. But I’ve reached an age where I no longer have to feel embarrassed by my confessing my relance on a comfort blanket. Especially as it’s actually rather a useful one.

Now I know that the strong affective relationship I’ve formed with this particular rag is a one-way thing. Like the special relationship Britain has with the US, which isn’t reciprocated by the US towards us. But I can live with that.

In fact, the day I start to wonder how the rag feels about me, I have to say we’ll have moved beyond the level of a harmless quirk. It’ll be time for Danielle to lock me up. 

Even if it does mean she’ll have to make other arrangements to get the bathroom cleaned.

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