It was Thursday, the day that Perestroika, my East European cleaner, the one I introduced you to here, does her thing. Her name's not really Perestroika but C came up with it and it's stuck. She is, after all, East European and her real name begins with P so what could be better? These people with foreign names deserve it anyhow.
I drove home as I usually do on nights when I go home, which is pretty much every one. The car cruised into the underground car park and I cleverly manoeuvred into my parking space. Why is it that Sri Lankan drivers just don't do reversing? Here we do it all the time, parallel parking, reversing into diagonal spaces, down narrow lanes and all sorts. You guys just don't. It's as if you don't believe in it, like it's only something to be done when absolutely every other possibility involving forward gears has been exhausted.
On the rare occasions when you do reverse, it's always with a random bloke in a dodgy ill fitting uniform warning the approaching traffic and directing you with those special Sri Lankan hand signals, the ones that involve only the tiniest of imperceptible hand movements, or finger movements to be precise.
I like entering my apartment, it feels, well kind of homely. So I went in and did what I always have to do on a Thursday evening; rearrange the furniture. It's a mystery to me how it happened but I managed to employ the only cleaner in the world who fails to understand the principle of putting furniture and objects back in the place they were in to start with.
You may well think it sounds a bit obsessive when I tell you this but you're wrong. Frankly. It's not that I'm one of those fellows who measures the position of his furniture to the nearest millimeter and demands that things are placed accordingly. No, but I like the glass coffee table to be positioned parallel to the TV, which is always in the same place, and I like the settee to be parallel to the coffee table. Think of it as simple and rough alignment and you'll be on the right lines, as long as they're parallel ones.
Perestroika appears to either disagree with me or disregard me with the result being that every Thursday I spend a couple of minutes, for that's all it takes with a wooden floor and easily move aroundable furniture, rearranging things to my liking. One day I'll tell her about it instead of writing about it, but then might be faced with one less thing to write about.
Anyhow, I did the rearranging, grabbed a Cadbury's Flake out of the newly designated RD Towers chocolate drawer, which doesn't mean a drawer made out of chocolate, and bumbled around for a few minutes eating the Flake. After the Flake feast I put away some sheets in the bedroom drawers, mooched around a bit then finally sat down on the sofa.
Rather I went to sit down but noticed something on the floor; a little patch of mud. I rolled my eyes. By that I don't mean that I took them out of their sockets and bowled them underarm across the floor, that would be stupid and how would I aim in the right direction anyhow? I mean I did that eye rolling thing, the one women do when a man makes a funny and smart comment that mysteriously only he thinks is smart and funny.
The last thing Perestroika does is to mop the wooden floor and, as this patch of mud was just under the settee, I'd eye rolled because it was an indication that she hadn't bothered to do the mopping thoroughly. I made a half stride in the direction of the kitchen to get a wet wipe to get rid of the offending murk, then noticed another smaller mud patch nearby. Weird, I thought. Even Perestroika would have mopped that bit.
I know what you're thinking, it's just that I wasn't thinking it at the time, which was part of the problem.
I put my finger in the "mud", which can now take its rightful place between some inverted commas. I raised my finger to my nose and inhaled.
It smelled of dog shit.
Several things hit my mind, but it's fair to say they all pissed me off. First there was the fact that Perestroika had managed to bring dog shit into the apartment. Next was the fact that she hadn't cleaned properly, followed by the one that I'd just put my finger in it. It had seemed like a good plan, you know, check that the mud really was mud by smelling it, but I hadn't thought it through.
David Blacker would probably have shot and killed the thing, Dominic Sansoni would have photographed it in a colourful but arty and tasteful manner, Pradeep Jeganathan would no doubt have made a aromatic and delicious starter out of it with red wine and beef stock and Cerno would have written a post involving google maps and LOITDMM (lots of initials that don't mean much).
As you now know I chose option five; the stick your finger in it and see if it's mud or shit one. It wasn't one of my better choices. I like to find the positives in life and I did find one here; the fact that I hadn't actually tasted it. A fact that I suspect won't make its way into the book of the ten thousand best positive facts of all time.
How useless is a cleaner who manages to bring dog shit into the apartment and then clean the floor without noticing it? That was the question going through my mind when the answer hit me; more useless than is humanly possible. Therefore it couldn't have been her and the only person to have been there since she left was.........................................moi.
I looked down, in the general direction of my designer trainers, the ones I'd bought in Barcelona. Alarm bells started going off everywhere. I went and turned them off so I could carry on thinking. I looked at the bottom of one trainer to find nothing. The other trainer, the right one, told a different story, a pretty shitty one.
It wasn't covered in dog shit, for that might have been good news, suggesting that it was mostly still on the trainer. It just had a bit of poo present and that meant one of two things; that I'd only trod in a little bit or that that I'd trod in a lot and then deposited it everywhere. The latter proved to be the case.
Mentally I retraced my steps. It hurt as the realisation hit me that I'd been all around the apartment, that the presence of the underground car park meant that I must have picked up my passenger much earlier in the day and it must be all over the pedals in my car and underneath my desk, the one I sit at now as I tell you this painful story.
I took off the offending trainer and stomped sulkily round the apartment assessing the damage. There was dog poo in about three places in the front room, in about another three or four places on the bedroom carpet and a few scatterings in the kitchen. I winced, and still do, when I think of the fact that I ate a bar of chocolate with the dog shit germs wafting up from my trainer, probably hitting the Cadbury's Flake too. I was concerned that it would harm my lifelong relationship with Cadbury's milk chocolate but evidence since then has proved this to be untrue. I'm sure you can understand my worry though.
In an ideal world, one in which I have pots and pots of money, I'd have walked out of my apartment, locked the door and moved into another one after destroying all the clothes that had been involved in the episode. Well, come to think of it in an ideal world I'd never have trod in the stuff in the first place. The world is far from ideal, as we know.
If I'd been wearing some old trainers I'd have just thrown them away, but these were my cool Barcelona ones so they had to be saved, something I chose to do that early. I took them into the girls' bathroom and showered the guilty trainer with steaming hot water to within an inch of its life. It was the least it deserved. Then it was left out to dry and I told it to think carefully about exactly what it had done. It said nothing whatsoever. I knew it felt bad.
Next was the easy part, cleaning the wooden floor. Wet wipes and some water did the job and I felt reassured to know that Perestroika would do her mopping thing in a week to finish things off properly. Realigning the furniture was a small price to pay, as was twelve of the Queen's English pounds per hour.
The bedroom, with its light brown carpet and sporadic splatterings of excrement, was an entirely different matter, one that makes me feel a bit dodgy to think about. I went at it with the enthusiasm and fervour of a UN inspector being told to go and find those weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad and then after that to go and see if there were any war crimes or human rights violations committed in that small island near India.
I've tried to block out the memory but I know there was water, a washing up scouring pad, wet wipes and kitchen roll involved. I recall feeling that I was merely getting rid of the crap from the surface and actually rubbing it more deeply into the carpet, which I was. It was a pretty shitty situation all round.
The end result was a bedroom carpet with stains, stains caused by dog turd. It wasn't my ideal outcome but I couldn't think what else to do at the time. Plus I was hungry and, for obvious reasons, didn't feel like eating. I put away my equipment. Fortunately the washing up scouring thing was quite new, meaning that it did a good job on the poo and also that I could get another few weeks of use out of it on the pots and pans, proving yet again that there are positives everywhere if you look for them.
I strolled off to the local Indian, got myself a curry and brought it home to be eaten with trepidation, feeling like a chap who's just had a car accident and needs to get back into the driving seat as soon as possible to avoid losing his confidence altogether.
As the days wore on the pain eased. It's now a couple of weeks after the incident and I can say with some confidence that not only am I over it but also that the place is cleaner than before it happened, even in the bedroom.
You see I felt the need to buy some proper carpet cleaning stuff and gave all the affected areas a good going over with it. I now have some patches that, in the light, are actually whiter than the rest of the carpet, showing that they're even cleaner than the darker areas. On top of that Perestroika had mopped and hoovered in the bedroom a few times since then.
The Barcelona trainer? I hear you ask. Well it dried off, resumed duties and is back in normal service, even playing two gigs and doing a fine job on the bass drum.
Things are looking better, though I shall forgive but never forget.
PS - Just in case you're ever invited round here, or perhaps you're thinking about coming, I was only joking about getting another few weeks of use from the washing up scouring pad. No, I reckon at the most I'll only get a few days before it'll have to go!