Prog Rock's sister has a patented system for classifying house guests, and how much effort one must devote to them. I don't know all the details, but I know that the very bottom come 'male relatives' (further subdivided into 'older' and 'younger', the latter being the lowest of the low, obviously). I've been to her house and very strange it is too. I imagine male relatives are left to scrape their dinner from the caked remains in the bread machine and forced to sleep in a pile of her husband's old libretti with a malign tom cat sitting on their head trying to suffocate them.
I can't apply this hierarchy in all circumstances - imagine OCD BiL? Or even the Bearded One who Has Allergies and is used to a very high thread count and a morning wake up call with hot water and lemon and a précis of the morning papers in bullet point form. But poor Prog Rock himself is definitely getting the 'male relative' treatment tonight.
He knows the drill. He is getting the sheets that are already on the spare bed. Casting my mind back, I am fairly sure that only I, or persons higher up the hierarchy, have used them. The house is pretty awful too. There is a dust epidemic, closely related to the cleaner being on holiday. She only comes once a week, but apparently the DUST knows she is away and is taking advantage of her absence to gather in unexpected places and foment dusty rebellion. I think it's planning to climb on the bed and up my gigantic nostrils while I sleep and suffocate me. It's not all catastrophic: I am managing to keep the children more or less clothed and keeping the moth population in the low millions, and most of the actual humans are clean. Lashes even made a particular point of scrubbing my toenails with a large bar of Savon de Marseille and what I later realised was my toothbrush this evening. But the dust is alarming and I fear the hoover. Hoovers can smell fear, you know. Like Linda in The Pursuit of Love, I am sure it will bolt with me if I take it out for a pipe-opener. Could I perhaps tie a feather duster to the weepette and get Fingers to chase him round the house threatening him with the garden hose?
(I would like to say that I am NOT a Roumanov princess and have no problem whatsoever unblocking toilets or cleaning up dogshit or even doing battle with the dreaded moth larvae; beyond those of natural sloth. I just really REALLY hate the hoover. In our old flat we had a Roomba, and would place a handful of jelly babies on its flat top, and spend happy hours watching the spawn - then much slower and wobblier - try and catch it)
Also, I have NO clean underwear left and these age 7-8 pants with dinosaurs on the front are seriously uncomfortable. Not to mention embarassing on a trip to the gynecologist. I mean, how can you convey the breezy message "oh, these? They are ironic STATEMENT PANTS" when she is snapping on her rubber gloves and gathering up her instruments? You can't.
I digress. I meant to say, mainly, poor Prog Rock has arrived, spent half an hour cleaning up the garden, and gone to fetch the takeaway pizzas. The children have looked up from their dog tormenting activities for just long enough to bark, clearly but ungrammatically "where our present is?"
He has of course brought presents:
- Frank Zappa and some hideous jazz CDs for the CFO. I have had a trying day and when he put one of these CDs on, I thought I would break down and cry. Thankfully he spotted my grey green free jazz torture face and turned it off.
- "Science putty" for Fingers, a black pungent substance which appears to be derived from crude oil. He is keeping it under his pillow.
- Some indescribable but apparently highly desirable piece of plastic for Lashes
- Two Bridgewater mugs for me and a ridiculously entertaining piece of Lakeland nonsense - a skewer that turns bright red when your cake is cooked. We were planning to test it on the pizza, but even that proved too much like domestic hard work.
He has promised to update his Library Corner, and is, as I type, sitting outside smoking and chatting to the CFO about a Freudian account of melancholy. The CFO is talking about something completely different, I think, but they appear to be communicating on some essential level. Really, if the way he is welcomed were representative of the pleasure having him here gives me, I should be fêting his arrival with peeled grapes and goose down and chilled Krug. But the fact I don't need to is sort of the point.