My house puts on her Pretty Party Frock

What is that J-cloth doing in the corner of the bath?” I am getting upset over cleaning the bath. It’s at times like this that I realise just how akin to Sheldon Cooper I am. I could be Sheldon Cooper’s granny.

The man is coming to take the photos today – the ones to be uploaded to “a comprehensive range of property portals” along with a fulsome description of the Idyllic (or Eyedilic, as property guru Phil Spencer insists on saying) lifestyle I have enjoyed since moving here, and with what reluctance I will be Moving On To Pastures New. Sunset strolls along the beach with pooch, sharing a glass of wine on a sunlit evening patio and so forth. “You blog?” he said. “Well, could you manage 90 words on your Idyllic Lifestyle? It takes me hours to cook up one of those for the brochure. Better in your own words. People begin to recognise my style.” So I have cooked him up – 357 words, actually. He can précis it down himself.

But today – today a man is coming to take the photographs. In an hour and 15 minutes, to be precise. Except he probably won’t be because estate agents are endlessly late.

The Pretty Party Frock thing. That came from my old headmistress. She would lecture us in Assembly as to the Correct Denier of Stocking to be Worn. Which was 60 Denier Sun Mist, with seams. An uglier and less erotic Stocking could not have been invented than 60 Denier Sun Mist. Thick enough to disguise the un-depilated limb, for sure, but a shade of brown-orange such as no female leg ever was. “30 Denier Seamless Stockings are fine for Evening Wear, Gels. With your Pretty Party Frocks.” Velvet hot-pants were in fashion at the time.

And today, My Colleague Nigel, whoever he is, is coming to Take the Photos. This is where the tables are turned. You see, I quite enjoy browsing through photos on property portals. Some houses are so sparkly and wonderful, it’s depressing. Are they really living, from day to day, in that spotless magnolia box? Do they not have cats that vomit on the carpet just before visitors arrive, or leave smeary pawmarks on the windows? Do they never have damp bath-towels in their bathroom? Does their bed really have fifteen giant cushions in toning shades of fuchsia arranged upon it, geometrically? Where do they put all those cushions before go to bed? Or do they not go to bed in that bed? Maybe they sleep on lilos in the living room, and deflate them at dawn. That way, no unseemly rumpling.

And then you get the others. The ones with fifteen cans of lager on the draining board and wasps everywhere. Every room overflows with uncollected laundry. There are cigarette packets and what may be some sort of apparatus for drug-consumption on the coffee table. The TV is still on. The curtains are still closed. How could you do that? I wonder. How could you allow the Whole Universe to see that you live like a Pig in Poop?

So today is the day I get my come-uppance. Today is the day that my shabby, sad little house has to put on her Party Frock and pretend to be an Ideal Home. Today is the day I could, if not very careful, get found out.

You have to get up at dawn. You have to cover up ugly stuff if you can’t get rid of altogether. It really does come down – as time gets short – to throwing stuff in cupboards. I remind myself that it doesn’t matter whether clutter is stored logically – it just has to be out of sight for half an hour. This goes against all my neurotic, Cooperish instincts. Stuff must either be in plain sight or stored in the logical place – so that I can find it again. If I can’t remember where it is I need to be able to work it out. If my ancient dressing gown, say, or those five hundred bottles of shower gel accumulated from Christmases past, are under the bed, or in the brown wheelie bin out in the back garden (no – that’s where the cats’ play-tunnels are, together with a lot of decomposed brambles) and the peg-bag is under the sink where no peg-bag ought to be – it’s gone for ever.

Oh, stress, stress, stress, stress, stress! I’m so longing for the moment where My Colleague Nigel, with his digital camera and his black plastic clipboard, is waving a cheery goodbye. Slippers on, make self a coffee and sandwich. Unwind. Only three Open Houses and an Opening of Sealed Bids, whatever that involves, to go.



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