It was no good. I was going to have to clean the flat.
Things came to a head when I found myself stirring my tea with a potato peeler – the last clean item in my home. Already my new girlfriend was refusing to stay over, after I sheepishly asked her how often bed sheets should be changed.
‘Every week?’ I shrieked in alarm.
‘Don’t tell me you only change them monthly?’ she said.
‘Yes!’ I lied, proudly. ‘Yes, I do.’ Every single month, like clockwork. And definitely not once per girlfriend.
I knew I had to address the slovenly habits I had honed during my student days, if honed is the right word. The flat was filthy. There was no more room left in the sink. Or the floor. To make matters worse, I had inherited a cat, called Killer, who, despite appearances, was a psychopathic sadist with an alarming body count. He would frequently hide the corpses of his prey under the furniture until the smell of death revealed them. Or worse, drop a mouse in the bath, so it couldn’t escape and he could fuck with it all night. I’d wake to a bath splattered with blood, shit and piss – and none of it mine.
Something had to change. But how? Luckily, there was the Internet and I could research the proper way to go about the mysteries of cleaning. I bought bottles of chemical gunk to spread everywhere. I set aside some time to get stuck in and listed some tips:
Make housework super fun
• Play music
• Place all mail in bin
• Soak dishes and cover surfaces with mad chemicals
• Burn stuff
• Find your ‘good enough’ level
• Get a cleaning partner and have a party
Sadly, I had already found my ‘good enough’ level, and it wasn’t good enough. Even Half-life had been appalled at the state of the place. Surprisingly, Half-life’s flat was spotless. Then again, you have to be careful when virtually everything in your home is illegal or stolen. Half-life, I thought. Maybe he would share his domestic skills in exchange for pizza and booze? After all, he would share members of his own family on those terms.
It took a couple of calls and the sustaining of considerable abuse before Half-life agreed to come to the cleaning party. There were conditions: His choice of booze, food and a very exact hour. By the time he showed up, three hours late, I had cleared all the rodent entrails and the bath was moderately clean. I’d made a dent in the washing up and shoved piles of unknowable detritus into cupboards.
‘Right,’ said Half-life. ‘First up, I’m going to Hoover.’
Hoover. Of course. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I called my old flatmate to ask her if I had a Hoover. I did, it was in a cupboard that I had since filled with crap. I was about to dig it out when I saw Half-life hovering over a line of Columbia’s finest on the newly-cleared kitchen table.
‘I thought you meant vacuum,’ I said.
‘I did,’ he said as the powder disappeared and he handed his straw over. ‘Man cannot live on beer alone. Some cunt said so.’
Never being one to waste good advice, I polished off my little present. Half-life then donned his rubber gloves, but instead of reaching for some detergent, he cracked open a bottle of Urquell and began a rambling tale about nuns in a sausage factory. He cranked up the sounds, made some calls and invited some friends over with the promise of booze and scoff and zero actual cleaning.
The twins, Jane and Jane, couldn’t leave work, Mong Martin was still in bed, while Johnny Blisters, Melissa the Kisser and Two Thumbs Tony were maybes.
It wasn’t long before the beer ran out and I had to run to the shops to restock. In the 30 minutes it took for me to replenish the fridge, Half-life had cleaned the kitchen, dusted and vacuumed, out of boredom and sheer perversity.
‘Amazing,’ I admitted. ‘How did you…?’ I looked at Half-life’s face and saw the eyes of a man flying out of his tiny mind. Nobody mentioned cocaine in Good Housekeeping, but if you look at the faces on the front covers, it’s clear something is making them very happy and it’s hard to believe it’s the 3 in 1 disinfectant that leaves your bathroom smelling like an angel’s balls.
The clean-up plan was working, so it was time to celebrate. Johnny Blisters arrived with the twins, bringing with him some speakers he wanted to test out for a party, some pecorino and 200 gin miniatures he was knocking out for a pound a pop.
The speakers worked, literally, like a charm, in that they attracted party types from the estate next door. Luckily they soon befriended Half-life and consumed all his illegal substances before the police arrived at 4am, shutting the party down whilst looking for some stolen subwoofers.
By the time everyone had cleared off, the floor had become a sea of spilt beer puddles and tiny gin bottles, resembling the remains of a Lilliputian hen night. But at least it was home.
I later enquired whether Half-life always cleaned his flat high on coke. He let me in on his secret. Turns out he hires a cleaner with his dole money.
‘It puts money into the pockets of those less fortunate than me,’ he said. ‘She’s called Miss Maybe. A resting burlesque dancer. Thing is, when she gets scrubbing I can’t concentrate on Countdown.’
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