Brilliant. Another lesson I’ve learned. Another big fat ‘don’t ever’ to add to the list. Don’t ever invite people to your house for dinner. Actually it’s okay if they’re from some other part of Poland like Bialystock or Torun or Queen’s nightclub. Just as long as they’re not Silesian. For when another Silesian woman is due to enter our house, my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE transforms into Our Lady of the Obsessive Compulsives with a hundred thousand daggers of dirt lacerating the pure cleanliness of her Silesian heart.
The couple and their son were due at 3pm on Sunday. Perfect. There goes Saturday, lost in a vortex of bleach and Cillet Bang and other cleaning products in plastic neon orange bottles banned in the Ukraine. I drew the short straw and got WC-detail. Sink. Bath. Toilet. Or the good, the bad and the ugly as we call them. I was handed a toothbrush and told to attack! Good nutrition has given me a degree of strength and the ability to make violent repetitive wiping motions x 100. Unfortunately it was several degrees lower than what was needed to extricate the vulcanized stains inflicted on our bathroom. We also had a tile missing on our floor owing to a previous plumbing problem. A replacement wouldn’t be available for three weeks.
‘What do we do about that?’ I wondered aloud before an A3 sheet of paper and several coloured pens were thrust into my hand.
‘What’s this for?’
‘Draw the tile it’s our only hope.’
Next I was giving the job of hoovering. Hoovering. The job given to those who have difficulty differentiating between ‘PULL’ and ‘PUSH’ or those brought up in the proximity of a glue factory. Great fun though, annihilating colonies of dormant ladybirds, while my wife risked life and limb by taking window cleaning to another dimension. The glass was waxed and buffed. Ionised. Scorched with a laser removal device. The ultra-violet dirt detector told us there was a small percentage of proteins lingering on the surface and so we employed a rare species of South American caterpillar specially bred to eat organisms and fungus not visible to the naked eye.
Our daughters were drafted in too. Several over-sized sponges were tied to Lilly as I dragged her up and down the hall floor. (Yes, I know, why didn’t I use a mop? It’s a question I’m still asking myself.) Being small and malnourished, Malina was sent up the chimney with a brush. She descended hours later with several Deutschmark coins and the original plans for Operation Barbarossa as written by General Gerd Von Rundstedt.
‘Why clean the bloody chimney?’ I asked my PSW. ‘No-one will know if it’s dirty or not,’ I added.
‘She’ll know!’ Ah. The power of Silesian women. This other woman who a few weeks earlier had cooked a four-course meal of such calorific perfection that I orgasmed once after the main course and twice during dessert. My PSW took up the gauntlet as our kitchen was temporarily turned into El Bulli – beasts of the forest were slaughtered, spices were sourced from the orient. When a broth didn’t taste right, we donned our cloaks and embarked on an epic journey across Mount Doom to consult the mystical figure known in these parts as ‘The Babcia…’ who removed her teeth and revealed the secret of the broth to us.
By Saturday morning we had the furniture lacquered, a new floor was laid over the old one and we bought a can of yellow paint to smarten-up the graffiti behind our house. Then, the PSW ordered us all outside lest we ruin the perfection.
‘Then we’ll sit in the car until they arrive!’ I took the girls under my arm and moved in the direction of the door. The phone rang. It was the other couple apologising. Their son got sick and would it be okay if they could reschedule?