Cotswold Mother: A pane in the glass
PUBLISHED: 09:57 18 August 2015 | UPDATED: 09:57 18 August 2015
‘I’ve never quite recovered from emerging from the bathroom in my all-together, only to see the top of a ladder appear at my bedroom window’
The good weather means I can’t ignore it any longer: the windows are in dire need of a clean. Sun streams valiantly through the kitchen window, despite the crust of bird poo and a layer of suspiciously green slime. I shall have to call the window cleaners.
We’re not short of good ones, round our way. I see them daily, in their branded polo shirts, zipping around town with ladders on car roofs and boots full of buckets. I know (because they remind me every time) that it would be proportionately cheaper for me to go on their books for a regular clean, than to call them up on an ad hoc basis, but I have a deep-seated fear of tradespeople who start work unannounced.
I’ve never quite recovered from emerging from the bathroom in my all-together, only to see the top of a ladder appear at my bedroom window. With nowhere else to go I was forced to dive behind the bed, pressing my naked body into the carpet until it was safe to reappear. It makes for a most disquieting start to the day.
Even when fully clothed it’s rather alarming to suddenly see a chap peering in to your house. I’m never quite sure what to do: surely it’s not good manners to ignore them? Does one wave? Mouth “hello”? And if one wanders through the house and sees them at several windows in turn, is it expected etiquette to acknowledge them on each occasion?
Privacy matters aside, it’s an interruption I don’t welcome. I have the sort of intrinsic work ethic that makes it impossible for me to sit down, flick through a magazine, or watch the latest scintillating episode of Come Dine With Me, while other people are working. Even if I’ve nailed my word count for the day, and am celebrating with a cup of tea and a Bourbon (the biscuit, not the liquor, although that’s not a bad thought…) when the window cleaner appears I feel guilt of Catholic proportions, propelling me out of my chair towards whatever housework I can lay my hands on. I once washed up something already clean and on the draining board, just to prove to the window cleaner that I wasn’t some lady of leisure. Far too stressful.
Last summer I washed the windows myself. Lacking a long enough ladder, I cleaned the upstairs ones by clutching the windowsill with one hand and leaning precariously out with my sponge. The neighbour opposite sat in the sun and watched me, helpfully informing me only after I’d finished about the ‘easy clean’ button which turns the windows inside out to facilitate such a task. Even armed with this knowledge, it’s an arduous job, leaving me with windows that – whilst clean – are so streaked they could pass as frosted. It’s a job for the professionals, to be booked for a specific day, when I can brace myself for their arrival and line up some honest toil to do at the same time.
A revealing conversation during drinks with the girls on Friday night suggests I might have been missing out on more than consistently clean windows. “I visited a friend on The Leys this morning,” Anna told us, referring to a street on the other side of town. “Goodness, how I wish I lived there!” It seems the window cleaner responsible for that particular round has attributes far beyond a squeaky clean pane of glass. “Taut biceps,” Anna went on, “tattoos, a rather lovely beard, and a stomach you could bounce peas off.” There was a collective pause as 20 middle-aged women pictured such a stomach, and thought about moving to The Leys.
“Imagine that knocking on your door, offering you a go on his squeegee,” one of them said wistfully. Another pause. Somebody coughed. “Do we know him?” I said. By ‘we’, I meant the vast school gate collective, its tentacles extending across Cubs, swimming lessons, cricket club, rugby training...
We pooled our knowledge, but couldn’t put a name to him. There should be some sort of database, we decided. Like Tinder, but for window cleaners. Winder. Housewives everywhere (and indeed house husbands, should they be so inclined; far be it for me to discriminate) could log on and match profiles to rounds. It could be exactly what the property market needs, giving a surprise boost to areas serviced by attractive window cleaners.
In the meantime, however, my own window situation is critical, and in the absence of such a database I shall have to take my chances on the eye-candy front. What a pane in the glass.
For more from Clare, follow her on Twitter: @claremackint0sh