Trying to ask a teenager to clean up, clear down or, worst of all, sort out a room in a house, is rather like asking a hibernating bear to come out from his cave, please, and tidy it up.
At first the bear remains still, snoring softly in the depths of gentle slumber. After much prodding and poking, the bear will open its narrow eyes with a deep growl. At this point it is wise to step away from the beast, attempting to placate it with honey, meat or a chocolate bar. Such measures are only temporary, for as the animal’s eyes adjust to the gloom of its surroundings, a frown will appear on its face at the indignity of being awoken before the correct time.
Take a deep breath and speak slowly and calmly. Explain to the bear, using a mixture of sign language, facial expressions and the pitch of your voice, that it is imperative that the cave be tidied, hoovered and, yes, disinfected, before the bear’s grandparents arrive in an hour’s time. After much head scratching, sighing and possible batting of paws, the bear will roll over to its side with a moan and prepare to rouse itself.
As the beast rises to its full height, towering above you in your sensible sandals, you must remain calm and attempt to ignore the fearsome sound you can hear gathering in the bear’s throat. After several moments of foot stamping and swerving, the bear will charge at you, prompting you to throw the hoover, spray and duster into the cave and shut the door, just as the bear emits a Chewbacca-howl of dismay.
Congratulations. You’ve earned the right to live another day.
Cleaning the house is a bone of contention in many households. I think that one of the problems is that busy houses never stay clean for very long. Despite having had numerous tips for cleaning the bathroom and other handy hints over the past twenty years, I find that you can spend hours on end making sure the house is sparkling on a Saturday morning, only for the ensuing events of the weekend to wipe out all your good efforts. Think football matches, children having their friends round, breakfast in bed, and a sizeable crowd of your 18 year old daughter’s chums all needing to use the bathroom to get ready to go out. After a couple of snifters of something blue and alcoholic, toothpaste really does get into the most peculiar of places. In the sink I mean.
Then there’s the question of animals. No, I don’t mean your husband or son. Pets are wonderful to have, but they do produce a lot of mess. Unfortunately, when it comes to cleaning the house, a woman’s (or a man’s) work is never done. Anything that helps me clean thoroughly and create a fresh and pleasant smelling atmosphere is therefore a welcome addition to my battery of cleaning apparatus.
Now, where is that bear?