I love it when guests come to stay. All the mess that you didn't really mind, all of the out-of-place things that you had stopped noticing, all the junk strewn everywhere that you had learned to step over or weave around. All of a sudden you see it all again, but in a different light. It tells you that you are the slobbiest, dirtiest, laziest people on the face of the planet, that your guests are arriving in 45 minutes, that the house is a complete and utter TIP, and that hadn't you better do something about it??!! NOW!!
Cue mayhem. A flurry of cleaning and tidying activity that the house hasn't seen since the last time we had visitors. Mrs L & I were like whirlwinds this morning. Dervishes, but wielding cleaning products. It took about 40 minutes to transform our house from Beirut to Barratt. It was nothing short of sensational.
The desk upstairs that had been the convienent dumping ground for perfume, paper, some dead bath crystals, a plastic frog, old baby clothes, coat-hangers, broken handbags and goodness knows what else for at least the last four months all of a sudden revealed bare wood. The floor of our bedroom, initially a staging post for clean washing, but latterly a garment mountain that we picked through in the morning whilst getting dressed - razed to the ground, sorted into piles, put away. The upstairs wastepaper baskets, overflowing with old tights, dead leaves, receipts, toilet roll tubes and handfuls of hairbrush hair, emptied into bags, transported outside, binned.
Downstairs I cleaned the both toilets, made the sink all sparkly, got rid of the mouldy fruit from the kitchen, cleaned the veg-box in the fridge that had mummified avocado in it. Recycling out, did we really drink that much last week? Childrens coats hung up, gloves paired up, hats found, shoes retrieved from beneath sofas, lingering toys put away. A quick dust and hoover, washing up put away, dried pasta and a piece of yesterday's sausage from under the dining table spotted and collected.
We stood back to inspect our work, scarcely believing of what we had achieved in well under an hour. Had I had time to bake some bread (or known how to) I would have done, as that's the kind of house we now lived in. Just shows what is possible if you're not about birding or playing the piano endlessly. The house looked (relatively) amazing. I have no doubt that once our guests leave that we will gradually descend into chaos once more, or it may not even be gradual, but when they arrived we were of course able to glibly apologise for the state of the house, mention that we had meant to tidy it before they got here, and blame the children. Our guests meanwhile looked around at our beautiful home, sparkling in the sunlight, and no doubt felt inadequate. "How do you manage it, with three children? Jono, you truly are a domestic god, we thought you were just making it up." they might have said.
Actually it was just my sister, and I'm sure she saw straight though me.
No, I didn't go birding today.