Jo also asks:

Admittedly through a haze of guilt at my own laziness, can anyone recommend a good cleaning service? There’s an ongoing battle about who our house belongs to, the spiders are winning and I need re-enforcements.

God, I’m being rubbish this morning. Sadly the cleaning in this particular household still gets done by our own fair hands so I can’t recommend anyone from personal experience.

Presumably what you’d really like is “a treasure” – your old-fashioned cocker-ney char, complete with flowery turban and frilly apron, mop and bucket in hand, ready to make your house sparkle, always happy to sit down with a cup of tea for a good old gossip… oops – sorry – just went off into a little personal fantasy there….

I believe they’re still around (you only have to see that ghastly “How Clean is Your House” for that – why do people choose to show off on telly the pigsties they live in through their own laziness?) but the very fact that they are treasures makes people rather jealous of theirs.

I get all sorts of hand-printed leaflets through the door from individuals wanting to clean my place (not so sure they’d still want to if they actually saw it) which could unearth someone fantastic – though the chances of references are presumably lower and it’s a very personal thing, letting someone you don’t really know into your house.

That leaves cleaning companies. They at least come with things like insurance and guarantees, but they do have drawbacks. You never know who you’re going to get – and since turnover is high it’s possible you’ll never get the same person twice – and, of course, you’ll pay more.

I confess I’ve not even considered a cleaning company since I read Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, where she goes undercover (albeit in The States) as a minimum-wage worker in various menial jobs and gets treated appallingly. Ok, ok, this was America, but I’ve become a bit suspicious anyway. Not only do some American companies treat their workers terribly but they essentially rip-off consumers too (one trick that sticks in the mind was spraying heavily-scented furniture polish into the air so that a consumer will think a room has been cleaned.)

Perhaps all British companies are perfect and I’m being unduly suspicious. Maybe people here can reassure me? And help Jo find someone to make her spiders pack their suitcases…

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