Friday, 26 October 2007

Do I make myself clear?

This morning my WPC (Wonderful Polish Cleaner) came to the new house for the first time. She arrived much later than usual but as I am to Polish cleaners what doormats are to feet, it wasn't mentioned. I made my usual attempt to explain to her which bits I wanted her to clean, and she nodded and said 'OK' a lot, and we both knew that she was going to clean the bits she wanted to clean anyway.

After a good hour of 'Dog' - the game where I pretend to be . . . a dog (who speaks with a gruff woofing voice, eats plastic food and is patted quite heavily by saliva-covered hands courtesy of The Teething Boy), I decided that the novelty of having a newly-moved-into fridge that didn't contain past-it food was wearing thin because we actually had no food at all, and so we got ready for Sainsbury's.

On our way out, WPC managed a fantastic mime of "You need kitchen towel" and sternly told me to "Buy Viakal." It was our best conversation in weeks and I left the house with a spring in my step.

In the cleaning products aisle, I had a flash of guilt remembering that before WPC we were almost chemical free - I'd even managed to convince The Australian that Ecover products were just as good, not too expensive and much nicer smelling (he's more a Cillit Bang sort). But the thought of returning without the Viakal, and attempting to explain why I don't want WPC to use it, despite the twinkly-shininess... It was the last bottle on the shelf, so I promised myself that this would be our last bottle - after all, we'd just had an almost-conversation so who knew what I'd be able to communicate in a few weeks.

On the way home, I bought the children a small present to say well done for moving house and not grumbling or whining all week while I unpacked and only played very short bursts of Dog. "But we didn't move house," said The Girl. Shit, I thought, she hasn't got the concept, she thinks we're on holiday or something, she'll be horribly traumatised. "Actually," she continued, "our old house was stuck down to the ground too hard so we couldn't move it, so what we had to do was put everything in boxes and take it to a new house." You can't argue with that.

Later, as WPC was leaving and the twinkly-shininess was on maximum glare, I tried to mime "How is your daughter's arm?" (She broke it a fortnight ago.) WPC looked confused. I tapped my arm, "She broke her arm?" I said. "Oh, 10 o'clock, maybe," said WPC. "No, no, I mean her arm, your daughter's arm," I said, smacking my arm quite hard now. "Umm, 10.30?" she said, and drew 10.30 on the shiny workbench. I realised she thought I was jabbing the imaginary giant watch on my arm to tell her off for being late, and that it was possible her daughter had never broken her arm at all and I'd just misunderstood something and might make it worse by continuing my shitty mimes, so I let it go. Now she thinks I'm a hardnut clock-watching employer. I will lose sleep over this.

After tea, while I was out of the room trying to convince The Boy that stair-climbing is not a milestone, The Girl decided to do an elaborate felt-tip drawing on the white dining table. I told her off with my gruff Mummy voice (which sounds a lot like Dog, incidentally) and confiscated her bucket of pens, waiting for that sorrowful look as I relegated them to the top cupboard. "Never mind!" she piped up with glee. "I'll just go and play with something else! Isn't that a good idea, Mum?" And she skipped away, leaving me to wonder what Viakal's like on table-top felt-tip works of art.

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Trilby said...

Ah, Viakal! This brought back memories of similar conversations with our Polish cleaner in London. Monica was an absolute delight, but her English wasn't great. I once left her a plate of rocky-road biscuits with a note that said "Enjoy! (p.s. contains nuts)".

The note that I received in return read "Thanks you for Contains Nuts. Please buy more Viakal."

Mum'sTheWord said...

Trilby, I'm now feeling woefully inadequate for never having left WPC rocky road biscuits. There should be a handbook.

Ross said...

Brilliant! More long posts please they're really enjoyable. Although I guess we won't be hearing much in November?...
That is one smart kid you have there BTW.

Claire said...

That was fabulously funny.