On being a slob (4)

(I wrote three other blogs on this subject back in August 2011. If I coould make the link thingy work, you could read them here, here and here.)

I’ve just spent two hours cleaning my bedroom here in Hungary because it’s been six months since I did it and really, it was time. The dust bunnies under the bed, which I use for keeping things on and meditating, were becoming dust dinosaurs and looking worryingly lively. There was a lot of bicarbonate of soda under the desk, remembering the happy day when both the cats peed in the same place, under the desk, while staring straight at me. Yes, there’s now a nice litter tray there now which they have both disdained to use.

I have to do my desk tomorrow because I never tidy for more than two hours because I get too bad-tempered and bored. My back hurts from using the weird centralised hoover because I couldn’t find the attachment for doing the floor until I’d finished.

But at least it wasn’t an entire house. It’s just a room, where I sleep on a little camping mattress on the floor because my back insists on the hardest surface possible. And that’s marvellous because I’ve cleaned entire houses and if you think I’m crabby now, you don’t know what crabby is.

I know people who love tidying and live in tidy clean houses that make me feel very very nervous. I know it’s only a matter of time before I do something unforgivably slobbish. My sister in law is like this and I really admire her beautiful tidy house. Years ago I did a seriously awful thing (left behind an item of feminine hygiene balanced on the cistern because it was the middle of the night and I couldn’t find a bin and… Oh god. I’m still horribly embarrassed by this) and it took years before I could even visit them again. So you see I’m right to be worried in a tidy house.

My landlady is one of those unfortunate people who like a tidy house but don’t like tidying which I think is the worst of all worlds. At least as the mess and the dust bunnies build up, it doesn’t make me feel bad and upset, I really don’t notice it. She feels happy when it’s tidy and clean, and unhappy when it’s untidy – which is sad because she has a large house full of clutter so it’s much more often untidy than tidy.

Intellectually I know that tidy is better than untidy and clean is better still. But there’s a large part of me that can almost always find something less boring to do. So once every six months or so, I clean and tidy right down the the surfaces.

The rest of the time I’m a slob.

ON BEING A SLOB 3

Is it depraved and disgusting to enjoy cracking fleas?
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We\’re counting down to Flea Day on Friday when house, bedding and animals have to be simultaneously dosed with ghastly insecticides so the little bastards have no place to go and so keel over and DIE. After you do the spraying and the powdering, you then have to get the animals out of the house for an hour and dot them with Frontline. After a quick visit to A&E to deal with the cat-clawing, you then have to go back in the house and hoover it all up before the animals come in again. It\’s a major operation.
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In the meantime, of course, poor Maisie still has fleas (so has the dog, of course, but she doesn\’t seem to care.) It\’s not good for her to dose too often with anti-flea stuff. Maisie sits on my windowsill, grooms and scratches and stares at me and then she miaows in a particularly annoying and insistent way. It\’s quite different from her \”Feed me now, I\’m a lickle itty-bitty kitten about to expire of starvation!\” miaow which has a very pathetic croak in it. It\’s more an \”Oi! Groom me, you stupid ape!\” kind of shout.
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Unfortunately, Maisie does not approve of the electric flea zapper comb which will obviously kill her dead if she lets it near her. So  being a well-trained cat-servant, I groom her with a nit comb. Maisie loves this and purrs like a revving motorbike. It  takes a lot of dexterity because as the little bastards get caught in the teeth of the comb you have to quickly crack them against the comb with your thumbnail. 
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This particular bloodsport is both revolting and strangely satisfying. There\’s the skill involved in catching them before they jump back on the cat, but it\’s the loud \”pop\” when you get them good that does it for me.
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Is it calling to my inner primate…? My distant ancestors who whiled away the jungle hours cracking each others\’ parasites? Probably.
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And it reminds me of something… Can our instinct for flea-cracking explain the mysterious allure of popping bubble-wrap for stress-relief?

ON BEING A SLOB 2

Here are some handy excuses for the state of my house.
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1. I broke my arm three months ago and couldn\’t do any washing up or hoovering. Or tidying. No, honest, I couldn\’t. The surgeon said so.
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2. The hoover wasn\’t working. Well, the plug wasn\’t working. I fixed it. Then the plug broke again. It\’s a splendid Numatic Henry Hoover, by the way, which is fine now I\’ve got round to fixing the plug again. At least I have good kit.
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3. I have one fifteen year old son and one 21 year old son. Nuff said. Yes, I know it\’s my fault for not training them properly. But how can I train them when I\’m so rotten at tidying myself?
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4. I have a very serious £150 a month book habit, mostly bought from Waterstones in Truro. We are currently very very overbooked. I might count them. I have now found the last remaining bit of wall to put a bookshelf against. After that… well… I don\’t know. No, don\’t be ridiculous, I can\’t possibly stop buying books. And although I had great hopes of Kindle, the black/white-page-change flicker would give me a migraine.
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5. My house just silts up with stuff. And paper. And newspapers. And magazines. And notebooks and photocopies and… I don\’t know why it does this. My mother-in-law\’s house never does.
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6. I think stuff follows me home, that\’s what I think.

ON BEING A SLOB

Try this pop-quiz I just made up to see if you\’re a slob too.
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You find an open magazine lying on the bathroom floor. What do you do?
a) This is impossible. I have no time to read magazines because I spend so much time cleaning, dusting and washing my hands. Like books, magazines are evil dust-collecters and are banned.
b) This is impossible. All magazines remain in my faux-leather fake book special magazine holder in the living room until they are recycled at the end of the week.
c) I pick it up, put it in the correct place for it and shout at the person who left it there.
d) I read it.
e) Which magazine did you mean?
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Congratulations. If you ticked (d) or (e), you too are a slob.
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I\’ve always thought that slobs and tidies* have differently wired brains. I\’ve watched the tidies I know with great interest and I\’ve noticed that they always see the start of mess. They spot that magazine in the loo and they find the stray mug behind the sofa. More importantly, they then do something about it.
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I don\’t. I really don\’t see it. Tidies won\’t believe this because they think the whole world is wired the same way as them which is why there\’s a word like slob for people like me but no word for people who go round tidying and cleaning and get nervous if there\’s a picture hanging crooked.
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I\’ll notice the magazine on the bathroom floor when the pile is interfering with me getting to the loo and probably not before.
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Obviously this means that my house is usually in a mess. Normally it\’s not too dirty though. But at the moment it has got so filthy, that even I have become uncomfortable and the cat is insisting I do something about the fleas (I will give excuses for this disgusting state of affairs tomorrow).
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The trouble is, I know that means a solid week of work to get the place sorted out and cleaned and while I don\’t mind cleaning at all, I absolutely loathe, hate and detest tidying. It makes me feel sick with boredom and the resulting tidy room makes me feel anxious and crabby.
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I blame my different wiring. I am differently organised. Yes. That\’s my excuse. There should probably be a treatment program or something.
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[a tidy, pl. tidies, n. – someone who enjoys tidying and organising and whose house is always tidy. When reading Feng Shui articles they have to ask, \”What is clutter?\” Finney Lexical Expansion Service.]