I have mentioned before that I am not an especially houseproud man. Indeed, it would be fair to say that, I see housework as a tedious and unnecessary distraction from reading and drinking. However, on a semi-regular basis (three times a year, on average), the squalor will get on my wick to the degree that I go nuts and have a marathon cleaning session.
Happily, last night and this morning, the planets were found to be in a felicitous conjunction. The auspices were taken and found to be favourable. And so the wrath of the household spirits was propritiated and the living room was mucked out. As ever, this mammoth task proceeded in three stages:
- Return books to study. A perennial problem here at Jones Towers is that of book storage. I have far more books than shelf space to keep them, the result of which is my library being scattered throughout the flat. This doesn't actually bother me too much, as I always know exactly where everything is, and it's always handy to have something to read in the loo. Nevertheless, it tends to look untidy, and any cleaning attempt must begin with at least a token effort to place books on shelves.
- Excavate the floor. In order to facilitate hoovering, everything is taken off the floor and piled on the settee. Bank statements, bus tickets, junk mail, pizza boxes, plates, discarded underwear, woollen gloves from last winter, empty cigarette packets etc. Everything comes off the dining table at the same time.
- Purge room of all extraneous matter. The stuff on the settee is sorted into a number of piles: stuff to be shoved into other rooms and forgotten about; stuff that is demanding money from me which I'll deal with first thing on Monday, honest guv; stuff to be chucked. The last pile is always by far the largest. This time it took up three black binbags.
- Evict unwanted flora and fauna. Old fat spider spinning in a tree! Old fat spider can't see me! Attercop! Attercop! Won't you stop, Stop your spinning and look for me! And so the spiders and dead flowers leave the room.
- Polish all wood. I'm a chippie's grandson, and get quite obsessive about wood. Virtually all the wooden furniture in the flat was acquired from charity shops or municipal tips and then lovingly restored by yours truly. As such, when I talk about polishing wood, I don't mean a quick squirt of Pledge and some business with a duster. Out comes the wood oil, beeswax balsam, shellac and differently-graded cloths. This always takes a couple of hours, but I find it immensely satisfying. It also leaves the flat smelling pleasant (if you like the smell of beeswax and shellac polish, obviously).
- Hoover. Preferably in a classy pvc miniskirt and pink halterneck, of course.
Having done all that, I am now in the blissful period wherein I sit and enjoy the sense of achievement, and the scented candles I'm burning to dispel the stench of cleaning products. Given that there is unlikely to be a similarly happy occasion again this decade, I thought that I would post some photos of what my flat looks like. In the grand tradition of my masters and betters in this discipline of blogging (hi!) then, let us begin this tour of the headquarters of the Moriconian Socialist Resistence.
1) The Parlour
Recently renovated and with a southerly aspect, the combined living/dining room of this charming property is a versatile and person-centred space. As you can see, the east-facing wall is currently adorned by various
bits of tat tasteful objets d'art:
In many ways, the front room is primarily a reflection of my taste, while the study (with its shelves full of model robots, cars and aeroplanes) is a reflection of my beloved's. There's a bodhrán, a rugby ball and a sword: which gives three interests of mine that I don't believe I've spoken about here before. The small pile of books on the shelving to the right is mainly Latin poetry: the top one is the Loeb edition of Martial's Epigrams. The big brass oil lamp on the pile of books was a housewarming present from my mother-in-law: it's the very devil to keep clean.
The table in the centre is my surrogate hearth: the old chimney breast being on the eastern wall was a fortunate coincidence. While nothing like as tasteful as Mark's altar, I quite like its austere simplicity. There's a close-up below:
The statue is indeed blood-soaked, not through any conscious intent but as the result of a bizarre chain of events while moving in six years ago. That little black book marked "breviary" is an old Moleskine notebook in which I've written most of the prayers which have featured on this blog and its predecessor. A sample page:
I say that this room is a reflection of my taste, but I'm not actually allowed to have a proper bookcase in here, which is inconvenient. Instead, we have a massive rack of his DVDs:
You've seen my kitchen before, but in order to refresh your memories:
As you can see, it has wonderful views. Some days even go by without me seeing any drug deals or fornication at all!
Of those cookbooks, I only make regular use of two: Il cucchiaio d'argento, a compendium of Italian cookery containing pretty much anything you could wish to know, and The Cooks' Bible, which is more a book of techniques than recipes. I bought it to replace my old college textbooks, which alas perished in a fire when I was particularly drunk. The benefit of the Bible over professional catering books is that one doesn't have to scale back the recipes: it is particularly disheartening when one discovers that the only recipe for blanquette de veau in one's collection is marked "to serve 40".
There are two bilingual puns in this image. A prize to those who spot them both.
(No, it's a rolling pin.)
3) The Facilities
For contrast, here is one room which has not been cleaned recently. The bathroom:
This picture has been deliberately under-exposed, in order to disguise the grime. However, two things can be noted from this picture:
- This bathroom is used exclusively by two men.
- The men in question have a somewhat freestyle approach to personal hygiene
(It's actually a bottle of shower gel.)
Finally, as a bonus feature, here are two photos of me. The first I took yesterday evening, when beginning this cleaning:
And this is the requisite "after" shot, taken this morning when the cleaning was finished off after I got up. I look so haggard due to the bottle of wine I drank to "help" me through the task:
1) Fortunately, the necessary tasks of personal hygiene can be performed while reading/drinking. I am a firm believer in staying in the bath until either the water goes cold or the wine runs out (whichever happens first).
2) For example, until this morning I knew that should I need to consult it, I could find Yaron Matras' Romani: a linguistic introduction in the kitchen, between Il cucchiaio d'argento and Baldi's Foundations of Latin. Similarly, all my books on religion were to the left of the settee, while Greek to GCSE was next to the Harpic in the bathroom. Now they're all in a pile in the study and I have absolutely no idea of what's where.