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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Clean

If you ever find yourself with £22 to spare and you’re not sure what to do with it, my advice is: get a cleaner.

We ummed and ahhed for months about whether to get one. We quarreled about who’s turn it was to sweep the floor or clean the sink, while other, less pleasant jobs, got ignored altogether.

But committing to giving someone else money to do something we really ought to be doing ourselves just seemed so frivolous. Especially when you consider £22 a fortnight is in the region of £500 a year. When you put it like that, hand me the ruddy broom, I’ll do it myself.

The time had come, however, to give our home some TLC, and it was painfully obvious that Gareth and I were not capable of bestowing any tenderness, love or care on our pigsty. Gone were the days we’d leave our bedroom door open during the day – now the mounting mess that hides behind our closed door is our dirty little secret – I’d die before I let Nicola see it. Poor Nicola. She has to work here, and the closest our stairs have come to being hoovered was the day we bought the hoover and dragged it up the stairs – in it’s box.

Being a conscientious eco-warrior, I opted to find us a green, eco-friendly cleaning service, which no doubt costs more – I didn’t do enough research to find out but I’ll wager that’s a truth. I don’t care. I’ll pay a few extra pounds for the planet.

But it has taken us months to justify parting with the money. We’re not exactly rich. I’m a journalist for goodness sake. A career which, when I gleefully told my dad I wanted to follow, he pointed out was ‘no way to make a living – but it beats having a real job.’

He’s got a point. I love my work, but it doesn’t exactly lend itself to so flippant a goodbye to my money as to have someone else clean my bog.

But oh. How I’ve come around. Justina, my new best friend, the love of my life, arrived today. She’s been in England three weeks and this was her first job. I want her to move in. She was here for two hours and I feel as if I’m walking around a different flat.

The floor is shiny. The dust has gone. She even cleaned under the Forgotten Corner where we store the Forgotten Bikes and the Forgotten Table Tennis Table.

Oh, Justina, I love you. Please come again. You’re worth every penny. And who can put a price on not arguing about who’s turn it is to clean the hob? Gareth and I know who’s turn it is. It’s Justina’s turn.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Trick or Treat

All that childhood competitive card playing has finally paid off.

That's right, while you were watching the Goonies or playing Tetris, I was learning the art of how to win at all and any card game ever invented. We Willis's like cards.

In Lockerbie to visit Gareth's gran, Faith, we accompanied her to the local village hall for her weekly Progressive Whist night. Gareth had forewarned her I liked cards and she'd jumped at the chance to take us along.

I was a little nervous beforehand. I may have been playing cards since I was knee high to a grasshopper, but my father, my teacher, had a habit of 'improving' games by adding Willis Rules. Thus I've never really been sure if I know how to play the same games as the rest of the world, or just Dad's ones.

I needn't have worried. A few games in I realised I was capable of giving these kind and welcoming old folk a run for their money - and I mean that literally - it was £2 a head to play.

Progressive Whist is a game for four, and you play opposite your partner. To my right was Jean, a woman pushing 100 with one white, and therefore blind, eye. The opportunity arose to either let her win, or cruelly beat her. Jean played a trump. It was my turn. I had an even better trump, or an average card. One way, I'd win the hand, the other, she would.

Obviously I took no prisoners. This wasn't a charity night. Jean was going down and taking all the other pensioners with her. As I thwarted her trump card with an even better one, I received a nod of approval from my partner - beating the blind was clearly encouraged here.

Later, I played my best round of the night with Jean's older, more doddery brother, Jock. He was my kind of guy - if I'd been 50 years older Gareth would have been fighting him off with a walking stick.

Jock helped me on my way to becoming the second highest female scorer and thus, proudly I won a prize of £1. I went to thank Jock for his part in my success and he - and this was where my night was complete - gave me a Worther's Original.

I was over the moon. Until:

'Haven't you been here before?' Jock asked.

I assured him it was my first time.

'Oh. Then you look just like my favourite glamour model,' he declared.

Oh Jock. It was going so well...
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