Winter clean


Any year that doesn’t start with winter vomiting bug is all right by me. In fact, Christmas may have been a sparkling wonderland of roasting meats and children’s laughter in other houses, but not in mine. Instead of days of enervating enforced inactivity, mine was spent helping my father get his flat repainted at the behest of the landlord, aka smoothing ruffled feathers of two elderly gents. ‘But why does he want it painted in the middle of winter?’ went my father’s not unreasonable wail; ‘I’ve got someone in and he can only do it during university holidays,’ came the cogently argued response. This exchange, which has been repeated with only small variations since October, elicited sympathetic clucks to whoever was addressing me as I lugged wardrobes, hauled bookcases, hoovered ropes of cobwebs and scrubbed down walls.

The lanky painter, a delightfully otherworldly teen, turned up two days late and made up the time by doing a terrible job. But he spiked our guns with smiling biddability, listening to opera and displaying not the slightest inkling of his incompetence. Bless. He only did about 1.5 days’ work but the landlord is delighted that some of the flat has been done; my father because he hopes that will be enough to leave him in peace, and the undergrad, pfft, he pocketed a few quid and got away with murder.

Once that excitement was over, I put on the same dusty jeans and jumper and went to work on the little house. My father heroically returned the favour, carrying a stepladder up the street; tactfully dialling down my more extravagant ideas and replacing the bathroom light switch. Two days earlier I’d smashed the whole fitting by teetering on tiptoe on the edge of the bath and letting it slip from outstretched fingers onto the tiled floor – but replacing that is a whole other day’s wrong size of screwdriver.


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