And so it begins; the familiar humming sound. Tonight it sounds like it’s coming from upstairs, or maybe it’s the kitchen? I don’t bother getting up. I know exactly what it is.
It’s our top-of-the-range upright turbo eco hoover, complete with cassette style brush roller removal and integrated wand for extended reach. My partner Jo’s most prized possession. His pride and joy.
Jo is very domesticated. No smelly socks on the floor, no dirty plates on the side or smeared toothpaste in the sink. At our romantic engagement party, I regaled my friends with tales of his domesticity. Barely able to contain their jealousy, most of them couldn’t believe Jo knew where the washing machine was let alone how to switch it on. And all of them assumed I was joking about the hoovering habit.
In the same way other ‘normal’ partners like to play golf or watch a football match, Jo loves to hoover. While most of us dread domestic drudgery, he relishes a session with the Sebo. Driven by a violent hatred of crumbs and fluff, he’ll reach for his favourite household appliance, any time, day or night. It goes without saying; you really can eat your dinner off our floor. Or your lunch. Or your breakfast.
He power suctions floors, ceilings (with the handy extendable hose attachment), inside cupboards and underneath sofa cushions. Nowhere is safe for a poor dust mite at our place. I loved the hoovering habit at first. What sensible woman wouldn’t? I didn’t have to do the dreaded job myself anymore for starters and my house looked immaculate 24/7. But as weeks and then months passed, I became increasingly disgruntled at the sight of my lover endlessly pushing his favourite toy around the house wearing fluffy slippers (no shoes allowed in the house). And we argued. About the hoover.
A couple of months ago we had the mother of all rows, after I caught him in the bathroom changing a dust filter while Line of Duty was on. Essential maintenance he insisted. I suggested we sit down and talk about it. I wasn’t going to let a household appliance come between us. Pointing out that his love affair was starting to affect our relationship, I pleaded with him to stick to agreed ‘hoovering times’.
He explained to me how, for him, sucking up dust and fluff is as powerful a relaxant as yoga is to other people. Reluctantly he agreed to keep it ‘under control’.
Surface cleansing ritual is now almost a daily occurrence too. We share the day’s news while he scrubs greasy fingerprints off the island. By the time we’ve covered all the important stuff, the sinks are spotless and the cupboard doors sparkling. To avoid lime scale marks, friends and family members are under strict instructions to carefully wipe all shower doors and taps after use. And if anyone forgets (usually a teenager), Jo is in there with his aptly named J-Cloth to get the job done.
It’s probably laughable to women living with housework-shy husbands, but I genuinely miss some of the little jobs I used to hate. It would be a treat to wash up a mug occasionally, to clean a window, maybe polish the glass table in our lounge? And I can’t remember the last time I attacked a really big ceiling cobweb. But with Jo on high dirt alert, I’m lucky if I even get to empty the dishwasher (although I can sometimes time the cycle so it finishes while he’s still at the office).
Visiting wives and girlfriends never fail to compliment me on how beautifully tidy my house looks. But I’m always quick to confess it’s Jo and not me who’s the clean freak. The unease emanating from male partners is palpable. The poor things, resigned to the fact that the minute they get home, they’ll be berated for their comparative lack of domestic prowess.
Do I fear Jo’s OCD might drive us apart eventually? I hope not. Unless he was to be seduced by someone more cleaning obsessed than he is, of course. And I’m not certain such a person exists.
And will I buy him the new Sebo Rosso slimline upright gloss finish vacuum with L-shaped head and flexible neck for steering around fixtures he’s talked about for months?
Not a chance. He’s already ordered it.