The fact that this is my most frequently asked of all my frequently asked questions must say something about how Greenwich is changing these days, though since it’s been the number one FAQ ever since I started blogging it’s nothing very new. The question?
Where can I find a reliable cleaner?
I get asked this, on average, once a month, but recently the gloom and dirt of a filthy winter has clearly become ingrained – and people have become desperate for a spot of spring cleanery. Three people have asked me in the past seven days, so I guess it’s worth having a general discussion about it.
The first thing I should say is that I can’t actually recommend anyone from experience. Whatever cleaning gets (sporadically) done chez Phantom is currently ‘in-house’ (I have a very fetching 1950s-floral print tricorn-and-pinny ensemble, just so you can picture the scene) though I can’t say that I enjoy the experience.
The Nirvana of cleaners, of course, is that jolly old soul, Mrs Mopp. The cheery cockney cliche in a turban headscarf who pops up with happy homilies and stories about a clutch of scampish grandchildren in British comedies circa 1963. She’s the career cleaner who actually enjoys being on her ‘ands and knees polishing front steps.
And they do exist. I even know some people who have one. Trouble is, once you’ve got your ‘treasure’, you’re not going to want to tell anyone about her (she is always a ‘she’ in Ealing Comedy Land) in case you lose her.
So it becomes a secret as closely guarded as the Masons. People who would normally share all kinds of intimacies suddenly clam up as soon as they’re asked The Question.
Good cleaners – the ones who actually do it because it’s a viable career choice – are always booked up to the gills, which means that what’s left are either people who are doing it because they can’t find anything else, or are employed by cleaning companies, often at less-than-respectable wages.
Admittedly it was America, but I’ve been edgy about cleaning companies ever since I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. Of course, I’m sure British companies wouldn’t dream of treating their workers poorly or get up to the sort of scams that the American ones do (for example, if they’re running late, sometimes they just squirt the room with a very smelly polishing spray to make it smell like they cleaned it…) Perhaps someone can recommend a company that pays its workers a good wage and consistently come up with decent results for my questioners.
I get little photocopied leaflets through the door from people from time to time offering their services. They may be the treasures that everyone seeks, but their problem is that no one knows who they are. The issue being, of course (especially since the folk who want cleaners are typically out during the day) leaving a key to your place with some random person who stuck a leaflet through your door.
So what’s the answer? I don’t know. Maybe someone’s prepared to share their treasure with the good folks of Greenwich. Me, I’m just going to don that pinny and flowery tricorn and get down on me ‘ands and knees…