Dulltown, Europe: Today’s choice adjectives are: carnivorous, asinine, ribald, tomfoolish, leiotrichous, tardigrade, and plump. Of the seven, I think tomfoolish is my favourite.
Oh, we humans, we do seem to spend a lot of our time keeping ourselves, and the things we surround ourselves with, clean. Yes, it is a pretty good idea isn’t it? It’s a survival thing I suppose, what with skin debris, germs, and the like; but then again, it is a rather irritating and boring thing to have to do.
Some people seem to thrive on such activities though, you can see the expression of contentment on their face, and a gleam in their eye, as they look down every day at a sparkling freshly washed kitchen floor. Me, I’m not like that.
I know someone who in the spring takes down the ‘winter curtains’ to wash, and replaces them with the ‘summer curtains’. Oh, that reminds me, I once lived in a place which had a rectangular living room divided down the centre with a thickish ceiling to floor curtain, which you could open or close depending upon your mood, or the state of the prevailing draughts in the colder months. I once noticed that it was looking a bit grubby, and feeling full of enthusiasm, I decided that instead of taking the thing down and washing it, I would wash it in situ using a bowl of hot soapy water and a sponge. Are you shocked? Yes, I know, it was a crazy idea, but I was young then. Oh, and please don’t try this at home – it didn’t go well. Apart from the process being a bit messy underfoot, the extra weight of the applied water put a lot of extra strain on the curtain hooks and the plastic track… I think we should leave it there dear reader…
Anyway, I’m not a great one for cleaning. But several years ago I realised that there was a simple solution to the problem of balancing the mind-numbing misery of having to vacuum and dust, with the embarrassment of the place looking to be on the verge of squalor when people came round to see me. I remember once, a couple, whom I had been at college with many years before, came for a quick visit; I said, ‘do have a seat,’ and pointed to the sofa. The woman looked at it, frowned, and said, ‘Is it clean Dave?…’
Anyway, back to my solution. It came to me when I was in the house of someone who likes to do a lot of cleaning and polishing – I looked around and realised that it actually didn’t look that good. It looked ‘messy’ – very clean, but messy. My revelation was that being tidy but dirty, looks a lot better than being untidy but clean.
People who come round to my house often say, ‘Oh, what a very nice living room you have Dave,’ and they don’t seem to notice the millimetre or so of dust on all my knickknacks and shelves, and the little tumbleweeds of dust lurking in the corners. The way to achieve this state is to develop the habit of ‘being tidy’, and not leave stuff around: newspapers, magazines, apple cores, pizza leaflets, ripped opened gas bill envelopes, and such things… But most important, have all the stuff that you do have visible ‘squared away’.
Yes, things left on a shelf or table, or even the floor, are a lot less noticeable if their edges are parallel to other things in the room. Avoid diagonalising your knickknacks and your bric-a-brac. Try it for yourself – go round your room and start squaring things up – it really does make a difference – you could even do it with items of furniture, rationalise them in relation to the surrounding walls.
Just look at that well polished coffee table with your glossy gardening magazine, your box of tissues, a TV remote, three square coasters, a open packet of Pontefract cakes, and your copy of Fifty Shades – move the table so that it’s parallel to the fireplace, then adjust all your angles to 90 degrees. There! Doesn’t that look better? It would still look stylish and neat, even with good sprinkling of dust on it – no one would mind…