“Does a messy home…make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?”
Among many quotable quotes attributed to Quentin Crisp (aka, to British readers at least, ‘The Naked Civil Servant’) is this – well, you could probably describe it as a diamond in the dust: “There is no need to do any housework. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.”
Not least from the need to avoid merciless retribution from Madame, I should point out immediately that the truth or otherwise of this assertion has never been tested in our household. We don’t do squalor.
Neither, though, do we go in for obsessive compulsive cleaning. Although there was a time, many years ago, when we had it in our minds that it was somehow of vital importance to have a spotless house at the turn of the year.
However, we eventually realised that frantic hoovering at a quarter to midnight on Hogmanay was neither necessary nor sensible. Apart from anything else, we ran the risk of missing the annual words of wisdom from the Rev I M Jolly:
There is a popular old saying that runs along the lines of ‘my house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy’. My mum has a fridge magnet that says this very thing, so it must be true. We keep it clean (the house, not the fridge magnet), but we don’t stress too much over it. This is, after all, a home and not an operating theatre.
Of course, we do perk the place up when we’re expecting visitors – who doesn’t? – but overall I’d say I was relaxed, rather than manic, about dusting and polishing.
Personally, I find that moving things around a little is an effective tidying tool, although I am aware (and have been made so, forcefully) that this is not a universally-held view.
The only thing, tidiness-wise, that is guaranteed to get my goat is when stuff is left lying on the floor, just begging to be trodden on or tripped over. Call me old-fashioned, but I do quite like being able to walk in a straight line across my own carpet.
Now, if that could be avoided I’d even go that extra mile and close all those cupboards and drawers whose left-open state is, shall we say, not always well received.