In London, I had a cleaner. Here in France, I've yet to a) find someone who's willing to mop floors on my behalf; b) figure out the system that makes it legal for them to do so (apparently you can buy vouchers at the mairie that include taxes and social charges, thereby avoiding a possible hefty fine for employing someone 'on the black.')
In the meantime, I've been wielding the mop and the feather duster myself, telling myself it's an upper arm workout and totally in tune with these credit-crunched times. Usually, - or rather unusually as I don't do it very often - I crank the Rolling Stones or the soundtrack to Slumdog Millionaire up high and see how much I can get done to a two-hour deadline.
Yesterday, it being a gloomy, rainy Saturday seemed like a good moment to indulge in a little nettoyage, especially since everyone around me seemed to be doing the same. Encouraged by the sound of the vacuum cleaner in the Portuguese house next door and the news that Travis, who is at his French house for the weekend, was likewise engaged, I set about the task with enthusiasm. A little too much enthusiasm as it happens, as I broke one of my Baccarat crystal champagne flutes and somehow managed to dislodge the satellite connection.
I went to bed with gleaming floors, only to be woken up shortly before 6.00am this morning by the sound of Biff crying and in obvious distress. I went downstairs and discovered that the poor little mite had puked up his fish and basmati rice dinner. Very considerately, he had done so mostly on my Laura Ashley floral doormat but as I walked him round the square in the early morning half light, knowing that I'd have to get out the mop again - and that with no satellite connection I'd miss the Andrew Marr show - I figured I might leave it several months before cleaning again.