In the kitchen bit in RD Towers I've got a stainless steel wall of sorts. You can see it in the picture, in between the top of the work surfaces and the bottom of the cupboards. It's a classic case of form over function. It looks nice, it's trendy and sexy and it's about as easy to clean as the mind of many a male Sri Lankan bus passenger at the sight of a woman, one with breasts.
And, on the other side of the equation, I have a cleaner. We'll call her P, she's from Bulgaria I believe, though it may be Romania. She can't speak much English except bits about money and prices and times and she's not particularly talented in the whole cleaning thing either. Some might say that she's not ideal for the role. Before you ask, no, she's not in the least bit good looking either.
As all cleaners do she charges me an hourly rate, supposedly for two hours of work. Then she whizzes around the place in far less than the two hours, takes the money I leave her and pretends that she's been there for the full whack. I actually wouldn't mind this in the least if she did a good job. Generally she doesn't and eventually, when I can be bothered to stop complaining and do something about it, I'll stop complaining and do something about it, like sack her and get a new person to do the job.
In the meantime I make do with Eastern European P, as Darwin would no doubt call her.
At this stage of my post I feel a sense of satisfaction. I've introduced the stainless steel wall to you, my reader, and I've also introduced Eastern European P, or EEP as we'll call her. I guess the next thing to do is to bring them together, to blend all the ingredients into a nice cake, perhaps a chocolate biscuit pudding.
Well, the thing is that every Thursday, which is when EEP does her thing, though it used to be Wednesday but she asked if she could change the day, she attempts to clean the stainless steel wall. Every Thursday evening when I get home from work, until last week, I would look at the stainless steel wall and it would make me feel surprised, bewildered, a bit startled and slightly scared, like Dinidu must have felt when he saw his first naked woman.
For the stainless steel wall would be cleanish, with smears and the appearance as if it was bleeding. It was like something from a horror film, as if there was ectoplasm being expelled from it. I know about these things from Ghostbusters and other academic studies. The ectoplasm was clear (I'm not sure if all ectoplasm is clear or is you can get the stuff in different colours) and would slowly ooze down the wall. It smelled funny and was oily to the touch, it had that familiar sense to it, like an old friend whose name you can't recall.
Talking to EEP is quite an arduous task for two reasons. The first being that I'm rarely at home when she pretends to be there doing her two hours, the second is that her command of English is only slightly better than that time when Dinidu saw his first naked woman. She's rarely able to get a word out, let alone a sentence that makes sense. I suspect she might be quite good at the old Bulgarian, but I'm not.
The result is that all our communication is by text message and each session of textual intercourse must make the predictive text part of EEP's phone want to commit suicide. I tell you all this to explain why I haven't done what might seem to be a simple task and just ask her what the story about the ectoplasm is.
Then, lo and behold, the other day I solved the mystery.
EEP has a bucket full of Bulgarian cleaner's equipment that I very kindly allow her to keep in the coat cupboard, the one by the front door. I was going through it, looking for my new specially formulated cloth that I'd bought at great expense a few days before. My first finding was the cloth, which annoyed me anyhow. My second finding was a bottle, a clear one, one that was out of place.
It was a bottle of.........
I knew straight away that this was the mysterious ectoplasm. Damn, I tell you. Or I ask you.
What on earth do they teach these people at Bulgarian cleaning school? Presumably they reckon the trick to clean a stainless steel wall is to smear baby oil all over it. Pffff is all I can say.
So, if you are bulgarian and you've been to one of their cleaning schools then please explain what goes on there. Also, while we're here, if you can tell me how to ask EEP to stop using the baby oil on my wall, in Bulgarian, I'd be eternally grateful. It's a sentence that I must get entirely correct, or things could go so wrong.