When I separated from my husband, one of the great reliefs was that finally - finally - I could keep a tidy home, without boxers and odd socks and bits of toenail littered about the house. My new place would be straight out of Homes and Gardens; all cream sofas and alphabetised books and a perfectly manicured rug with a roaring fire (even in Summer). There might be a cat. There would probably be modern art.
But one thing's for sure; there would be no man mess.
I've been in my home for about a year now - and let me paint a charming picture for you. I'm writing this in bed (not made). The bed linen is cream and fresh but the cat has been lying on it today, and if I scooped up all the cat hairs, I could probably make another (albeit somewhat smaller) cat.
The washing is hanging up on the rack next to the bed. There is bra carnage everywhere. There are bags littered around the place, some half full of shit that I once thought important; some completely empty and just waiting to be put somewhere. Anywhere. Out of the way.
A towel is hanging over the bed frame.
My 'lady items' are cluttering up the mantel, along with pens, coins, and dust.
And if I looked hard enough, I would probably discover toenails. Going back months.
Listen, I know it sounds revolting. I would dearly love to be a tidy person. I'd love to be able to walk into my house, back from work, and smell the smell of just-washed-floors; to see an empty sink rather than this morning's porridge saucepan leering at me; to use a sparkling bathroom that doesn't smell of teenage turds.
But the truth is, I can't see the point of being tidy. I would much rather be writing, or fiddling around on Twitter, or on the phone to someone, or even doing dreaded admin stuff - than cleaning out the bath, or putting my pants away.
I truly am a Scummy Mummy.
Being a Scummy Mummy is ok until you invite someone round. You have to book a whole day off work beforehand to fumigate the house (probably downstairs only - you'll run out of time to do upstairs) and you'll end up with a least seven rubbish bags which have to be hidden from view at the bottom of the garden until said guest has left.
The worst thing in the world is when someone turns up unexpectedly. This makes me feel hugely uncomfortable. While they are trying to talk to me, ("Lottie, my grandfather's just died. Please can you just stop and listen..."), I'll be concentrating not on them, but on the piles of laundry in the front room that I'm surreptitiously trying to hide with my coat/a throw/my entire body.
It is ridiculous. I know that, logically, they are not judging me on tidiness. They are probably just wondering why I haven't offered them anything to drink. Or taken their coat. But I know how their house looks when I go round (sodding immaculate! HOW DO THEY DO THAT??) and so I am all too aware that my house...um...gives off a different vibe. Or odour.
So. Yes, my husband did leave his pants and socks and toenails around. But it was me who was making all the other guff and not bothering to put it away - and guess what? It actually takes EFFORT to be tidy! Which I think I need to work on, as I'm rapidly becoming a candidate for Britain's Worst Hoarders. (West Country's Scummiest Mummies? It's the local news equivalent, maybe).
I want the sort of home where visitors can come, any time, and sit down without fear of walking away with something unrecognisable stuck to their bum. Where they have somewhere not covered in yesterday's crumbs to put their mug down. Where they can say, "Where's your loo?" and I don't have to make them wait for five minutes whilst I bleach the bog as best I can.
Clean people of the blogging community! Help me, please! Do you have some advice?