"Why don't we get a cleaner?"
I confess I initially recoiled. Who the hell had she killed? This is what comes of waving a handgun around in the back of the car with the safety catch left off. One speed bump and boom. Death by hair trigger and then you have to spend the rest of the day being nice to Harvey Keitel while he picks some dude's brains out of your furry dice. And no, that is not a euphemism for oral pleasure.
Turns out the wife actually meant get a cleaner. A Mrs Overall. A Mrs Doyle.
Someone to come and do for us (though that still sounds a bit Pulp Fiction-esque to me).
The wife's argument is thus: she and I both work full time, when we have any free time we are battling a constant malaise of exhaustion that raising kids prevents you from ever giving in to so you keep pushing and pushing yourself with the end result that your effectiveness as a careerist / parent / homeowner shrivels down into a depressing spiral of endlessly diminishing returns.
Now I'm not saying that our home deserves to feature on a Channel 4 documentary fronted by the spectacularly fronted Jasmine Harman (though she's more than welcome to rifle through my Tallboy any time she likes) but, you know, sometimes things get left. For a few weeks. And I put it to you that having water cress growing out of your draining board is not a look that will entice Nigella Lawson around for an evening meal. And that's even before she negotiates the sometimes tacky floor of the bathroom on her way to powder her nose.
We do our best but our best isn't good enough. Our best certainly isn't up to the 1950's ideal that my Nan and mum embodied when I was growing up. But, of course, looking after the home was and is a full time job in itself (especially when you throw young kids and cats into the mix) and they lived in an age where a woman having a career and going out to work full-time was unusual and, outrageously from the modern perspective, a bit of a talking point. Neither of them worked full-time in the career sense. Though in terms of labouring to maintain a spotlessly clean home they never bloody stopped.
So. We - Karen and I - are considering hiring a skivvy.
I feel surprisingly ambivalent about it.
My first reaction was kind of an inverse snobbery borne of my thick overlay of working class ideals and a deep sense of class embarrassment: what the hell would my friends say? What would my mother say? My second reaction was to begrudge the money: are we really going to give away hard earned moolah to someone else so they can come into our home and do the jobs that we would and could do (albeit haphazardly) for free? My third was the English Man defending his castle stance: have some grubby faced dole-ite invading our home, pocketing our loose change and hijacking our wifi when we're not looking?
Was my wife utterly mad?
But as the idea has lain with me and snuggled up softly, gently pushed sugar kisses into my ear and raised its eyebrows suggestively I have started to see the positives.
(a) More free time and energy to do the things we really want to do. (b) A more hygienic, more healthy standard of living that the wife and I, the kids and even the cats would benefit from. (c) Someone who can scrub the bloodstains out of the backseat of the car for a lot less tin than Harvey Keitel asks for.
We shall ask for references naturally and have to think carefully about keeping any kind of monetary temptation out of view. My wife will be at home on the days the cleaner comes round. And my Lego sanctuary... er... "office" will be out of bounds to uninitiated duster-wielding hands.
With those provisos in place, I am slowly coming round to the idea.
So hello, Upper Middle Class.
Who knew that a slightly grubby lifestyle would lead so effortlessly to upwards mobility?