No-one likes to admit to having a cleaner.
It’s basically tantamount to announcing, ‘I’m far too important to wash and iron my own knickers. I have MINIONS who do that for me.’
But there’s no better feeling of landing back home from work to a freshly-polished floor, the ironing hanging in the wardrobe, and crisp new sheets on the bed. If I had to choose between getting rid of the cleaner or the husband, it would be a tough call.
I first came across my amazing cleaner Natalia when she advertised in the window of my local hardware store. In fact, the very same window that Dirty Harry has been looking for love. But, unlike Harry, after one visit from Natalia , it was love at first sight.
Natalia isn’t your average cleaner: she sews on buttons, mends the bedding, takes items to the dry cleaners, and runs any errands you need. She’s the most hard-working person I know.
During my Farrow and Ball decorating obsession, her husband offered to come round and help paint with his Polish friend. They only came round to weigh the job up but before you could say ‘Czesc’ (I think that’s hello in Polish) they had whipped off their shirts, grabbed a brush and started furiously painting.
There was none of this messing around with cups of tea every 30 mins, like the Brits. No, they just brought a giant bottle of Coke (Polish equivalent) to swig on the move, and worked for 12 hours flat, without even a break.
There is one small problem with Natalia (and I appreciate this is a horribly middle-class problem, in the face of world poverty and civil war) but the thing is… she keeps buying me presents.
It started last Christmas. I was busy trying to decide whether Natalia would like an actual present or would rather have an extra week’s pay, when she pitched up at the door bearing a selection of random gifts herself.
I was confused. Shouldn’t I be buying her a present – not the other way round?
Her first present was some strange marshmallow/ Turkish delight-style sweets along with a bottle of dessert wine, which claimed to be Polish but on further inspection was actually made in Morocco.
She also bought me an intriguing bottle of oil called ‘Sahar’, which she told me to slather all over my body after a bath. It smells of mouldy hazelnuts and every now and then I tip a bit in the bath, mainly out of guilt. For all I know, it could be the elixir of youth.
At Easter, a giant basket arrived for me, complete with daffodils, big fluffy chicks, creme eggs, and a ‘Happy Easter’ balloon.
It’s all incredibly sweet – but entirely unnecessary.
After her holiday, more bizarre presents arrived: some chocolates that I think are Poland’s equivalent of minstrels, and a little wooden box with two ramming deer. You can make them lock horns by moving the wooden lever up and down.
I keep the box on my desk at work to put my pens in. Every now and then, a naughty boy in my class passes by and rams the deer together several times.
I’m already wondering what strange array of gifts Natalia’s planning to bestow upon me next.
But, as she said herself, the magic of christmas never ends!