Today was another one of those days where the amount of energy spent seems horrendously out of proportion with the results you get at the end of it. Mum said, I think quite rightly, that she’d been on her feet all day – that’s possibly true for the rest of us.
All we needed to do was to haul several bags and luggage cases of earthly possessions about 8km to our new house.
It had “easy” written all over it.
My brother and I were left in charge of the chalet while the parents went out to… uh, sort something out with the agent. I think. We were basically tasked with the overseeing and protection of everything we owned in the world at that time. A responsibility we completely ignored.
If this were some kind of tragi-comedy blog (which it would be if my life more closely followed that genre), the next few paragraphs would describe how we either (a) lost everything due to our collective carelessness (b) broke everything due to our collective clumsiness or (c) fought off a robber using nought but a slingshot and the blunt end of a keytar in an action sequence that would’ve put Braveheart to shame.
Sadly, none of that happened.
They were away for three hours, and then Mum went on to the new house, while Dad returned to get the arses of me and my bro into gear. He wanted to get to the house quickly because the guys delivering our furniture were due to be there in about half-an-hour, and he wanted to be there in case something went wrong, or something. The next twenty minutes were a blur of packing, stacking, fretting and sweating. The entire back half of the car was crammed with the entire contents of the chalet, and my brother. He had to hold an open can of sweetcorn in one hand, and precariously balance a plastic bag containing an incredibly sharp knife and a three-quarters full tub of vanilla ice-cream on top of the immense pile of stuff that he was shoe-horned in amongst with the other hand.
Again, I’d like to tell you that something hilariously tragic occurred, perhaps along the lines of the knife slitting an opening in the tub, causing litres of melted ice-cream to spill onto my brother’s face. But it didn’t. Sadly. Wish it had.
Then after all that, we ended up hitting bad rush-hour traffic anyway (and of course the furniture rentors did as well, meaning we arrived at the house about half an hour before them).
We did check multiple times that we hadn’t left anything behind, but there are of course still doubts as to exactly how thorough our checking was. (Mum still can’t find some kitchen cloths that I know I packed because I knew that they were exactly the kind of thing liable to go missing but still they can’t be found anywhere.)
So, once we’d finally arrived at our new address – our completely empty shell of a house – we started unloading the car.
Dad told us not the walk across the grass while we did this, or it would die. Okay.
Meanwhile, the ice-cream was, predictably, not in the most solid state it had ever been in, along with all the other refrigerated goods that had basically been cooking in the back of the car for the quarter-of-an-hour or so we were on the road, so that had to be done pretty quickly. There was of course nowhere to put it because the fridge-freezer hadn’t arrived yet.
Walking around after everything was in place (read: slung unsystematically into the front room because damn it that was just the easiest way to do it), my parents began to notice how… dirty…? the place was. Personally, I thought the fact that the place was most devoid of all trace of previous human inhabitance meant that the place was perfectly serviceable already. That said, my brother and I fall somewhere between “utterly clueless” and “blissfully ignorant” when it comes to domestic hygiene. We don’t pick up the sort of things that our parents were picking up on their grime radar (and even if I did, I don’t think I’d pay it any attention anyway) – all of which was in fact outlined on a lengthy report left by the landlord, complete with bulleted lists of every impurity in the house that a cleaning crew would be around shortly to sort out.
What we were finding wasn’t anything utterly nightmare-inducing – at least I didn’t think so. Certainly not to the degree of what you see on How Clean is Your House (which isn’t the main focus of that show, let’s face it).
The shower was a bit grubby, but then it is a shower. Grub can be rinsed away and flushed down the plughole – problem solved. The upper shelves were a bit dusty, but then they are shelves. Parts of the house that aren’t used tend to accumulate debris. The oven grill was a bit… okay, that was rather scummy.
Put simply, the previous tenants were probably… well, let’s face it – people like me. People who don’t mind sharing a room with a cobweb or two. (I did for roughly six years in our last house – it has its perks. You and the spider share a mutual hatred of flies, and when you swat a fly into one of its webs and provide it with a free lunch, it far outweighs the potential health hazards of living in a cobweb-caked room.)
Then the furnishings arrived – that is, a fridge-freezer, a table, five chairs, and three double beds. Everything (that wasn’t going to be slept on) was deposited in the kitchen. The two men were here for about five minutes moving stuff out of their truck and then were gone. The only point they slowed down the slightest bit was when they were carrying the table – which was almost exactly as wide as the corridor – into the kitchen. Now that’s what I call efficient.
Mum and Dad then had to depart again to buy some things that were missing from the house, once again leaving brother and I in charge of our current place of residence, during which we hooked up our laptops once more and stared at their screens for a few hours. The two cleaners came around and occupied the place in the meantime, doing their thing by spraying, scrubbing and sanitizing every bit of the house. However, we didn’t check if they’d done a thorough enough job – though even if we had, we would still probably have thought that they were doing just fine. As far as we were concerned the whole house was getting chemically irrigated.
When mother and father returned (the cleaners having left about 10 minutes prior), it was pretty dark outside, though it seemed rather early – I still need to inquire or investigate further into the solar activity on this side of the world – does the sun over here lower early like in the English winter, and also rise early like the English summer? Is it the other way around in the Australian winter – which is the English summer? Dear me.
My Dad noted that during this outing “‘[they’d] been buying out the whole of Australia”. I’d like to thing he was using this phrase jokingly, but the way he exaggerates, it’s hard not to imagine he genuinely believes it. Though I’m really not sure where he got this notion – we’re only buying essentials at present, like food, utensils and electrical appliances that we have no replacements for yet (our former toaster and kettle, for instance, are on a ship somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean right now in a smacking great container). Of course we’re paying in dollars now, and because the exchange rate is something like 1.6 Aussie dollars to the pound, there may be an illusion that we’re throwing money around like nobody’s business. Surely though, we can’t be spending that much more than we ever used to and OH SHIT BUGS. BUUUUGS. THOUSANDS OF THEM.
What the hell – aw, geez – are they… flies? Mosquitoes? Midges? Oh God they’re up my nose.
Yeah. We made the mistake of leaving the light just inside the door “on”, and the front door wide open. This is of course the insect equivalent of slamming a giant “FREE BOOZE” sign in neon and tinsel above the door of the local public house. Before any of us were even aware that we had an infestation in progress, about a hundred or two had gathered above the door.
Enter father with the Hoover of Death.
We stashed away all the shopping, all of us starting to feel increasingly knackered, and then slowly but surely the holes in the cleaning crew’s work started to appear. They’d cleaned the oven’s grill but not the tray. They hadn’t polished the entire worktop. Dust was still prevalent in a few select corners. As far as my parents were concerned, they might just as well have gotten a bunch of monkeys to run rampant around the house for two hours, and left to chance whether they could differentiate their own excrement from a bucket of soap and water before applying it to all of the walls and floors.
At this point it was late in the day and I was starving. I’d had a cup of tea for breakfast, two sausages for lunch, and the aforementioned (by my parents) “inaugural McDonald’s” had somehow gotten lost in the madness of my parents’ outing for kitchen essentials. I opted to have some bread and peanut butter instead.
Before even that could be done, my mum had to wash each and every piece of cutlery and crockery that had just been bought. At this point I really started to think that the English obsession over personal hygiene was reaching ridiculous levels – surely the Aussies don’t even think of that? Look, if the bread that we’re buying in Australia is apparently “untouched by human hands” then surely it won’t kill us to use our eating utensils straight out of the box?
Things had gone pretty smoothly for me and my brother up to this point and we were feeling pretty laid-back at having finally finished the process of getting (and living in) a house, but now I was starting to feel my parent’s frustration with the amount of things that weren’t quite in place – although for a different reason. They were annoyed because the worktop hadn’t been scrubbed over 100%. I was annoyed because they were annoyed. They’re very good at making huge deals out of minor inconveniences, and I began to wonder if the subatomic particles in charge of controlling the various cosmic forces of the universe secretly hated us, and were arranging just the right amount of infinitesimal yet entirely perceptible problems to cause seemingly endless friction between everyone involved.
I took my frustration out on my second batch of peanut-butter-on-bread. It wouldn’t spread properly – and if you’re a spread and you screw up the bread like you screw up the fur of a cat when you stroke it the wrong way – no matter what direction I spread you in – then I’ve got a message for you. EFF YOU.
Three whole and one half-destroyed slices of peanut butter later, I sat down and spent two hours composing this blog post.
At least the cleaners left a “welcome” goodie-bag.
From their church.
To a bunch of atheists.