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Mop kicks the bucket August 10, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in Thirtynumbthing, Uncategorized.
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Settling down. Now there’s a phrase peculiar to women and parents to a son of a certain age. It always seems to be prefixed by ‘When are you?’ – a question that morphs into an accusation when you hit a certain age.

We live in times of uncertainty and the unexpected: the constant threat of recession, the collapse of the Eurozone, tsunamis, England suddenly becoming the best cricket team in the world and Joey Barton quoting 19th century German philosophers for good measure. To compound it all, I find myself in an unexpected relationship, meaning, tragically, she is now thrust into the foibles of trying to come to terms with being on the arm of a Thirtynumbthing.

From personal experience and constant reminder, we are generally a hesitant and tricky lot when it comes to ‘settling down’. We’ve come this far being dysfunctional and doing our own thing that it has almost become our natural course.

On the surface we may be all stacked bookshelves, macchiato drinking, gym going and designer kitchens, but it only takes a well-manicured nail scratching at the surface to unearth the clues that it’s not all refinement beneath. An almost barren fridge save for a few bottles of wine and a jar of pickle, a dance-proof Union Jack coffee table that lights up and the letters Q P R mown on the lawn are hardly the stuff of a Homes & Gardens centrefold and something that, perhaps, she should have been properly warned about in advance. Still, I wish her well, especially as the football season has yet to kick off and that’s when things can go seriously pear shaped on the psychological front.

If she and I try to make sense of it all, it appears this disruption of my normal continuum has also thrown the cleaner off kilter. Arriving home from work this evening it was as if there had been a death in the family. Pavlina greeted me mournfully at the door cradling a broken mop in her arms. My first moments home after a day sweltering in an office without air-conditioning (the developers euphemistically call it an eco-building, I call it cutting costs) were thus spent watching sympathetically as she tragically attempted to force the head back on the handle as I stood there helpless, awkwardly trying to muster the words that she already knew. No two ways about it, the mop was f*cked.

Despite reassurances that there were plenty of mops in the sea, it was hard to avert the sense of loss. Then again she’d become attached to that mop, quite literally. Together they had formed a formidable grime busting team, dealing with cigarette ash and spilled Malbec wherever they went. Aside from buying a new, top of the range mop with all mod cons, it seems the only way we can have closure is a mop funeral, and do it in style – sherry, a couple of hymns and a tasteful reading by its companion, the bucket.

After she departed and I threw the mop in the bin, I thought that was the last bit of drama we’d have to discuss that evening, but never underestimate the machinations and intuitive panic of a Bulgarian cleaner’s mindset. A minute later I received a text:

‘Now you are having a girlfriend now, please don’t hesitate to discuss issues about the cleaning. I am ready to offer a different price for the job, if there is one that might match your needs better. Thanks, Pavlina’.

Where does one begin? How on earth did she know I had female company this weekend? (I thought I’d covered all those particular tracks, so there’s a worry for starters). Secondly, does she assume that me having a girlfriend signifies her cleaning duties have instantly been taken over by someone else? And to the point she will take a pay cut in order to see off this threat? Finally, what are my ‘needs’ anyway?

The depressed mood was not all down to the mop. I’m assuming, very much hoping, the tell-tale sign which made her realise I’d had a woman in the house was the two dinner plates left in the dining room. Besides, I often cook for a friend if they visit and she’s never commented before (I ought to check what else has been left around the house). By that same measure, if I hadn’t cleaned up after a dinner party would she therefore assume I’d had a Pompeiian orgy?

It must be all very different in Bulgaria – one seafood linguini supper and before you know it they’ve donned a pinny, carved their name on your mop and are ready to take on all-comers with a blast of Mr Sheen. All of which makes me think if what happened earlier with the mop was not wear and tear or accident, but sabotage on the part of Pavlina: if there is to be another woman in your life then she may have you, but she will never take the mop. And by God, if ever a working mop and a happy operative is needed then it’s here.

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