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FROM HOT TO HAG
Back in the master bedroom Valentina was anxious a usual. She had spent too long on Mr Shnellbrot-Thomas's bathroom and dressing room and also in making the bed, which Emily insisted didn't need to be done precisely, but then would claim the sheets were turned over too low, or alternatively too high, no matter how hard she tried to get it just right. Already reproached for being too exacting, Valentina decided she was going to have to bring in a ruler to avoid being there for ages second-guessing herself. There was still vacuuming to do (and dusting) and she couldn't remember which order Emily expected her to do them in, because her opinion of the optimal order seemed to change each week when she came to check up on the cleaner's progress. Emily advised firmly that Valentina spent far too long on and both chores and that she needn't go overboard as she did... but then whenever Valentina took her advice and gave the place 'a quick whiz round' there was always a complaint that dust had been found.
Valentina was even more anxious, because the children's bedrooms and their bathroom on that floor STILL needed to be done and a there were a handful of other 'quick' chores she also needed to hurry up and do before she left for the day. Emily couldn't see what all the fuss was about. As far as she was concerned the children's rooms only ever needed a few quick minutes each as the nanny tidied them – which of course the nanny rarely ever did, but Valentina wasn't going to make an enemy in reporting her for it any more than she was with the laundry. She moved away the dozens and dozens of medicines and creams and perfumes and lipsticks and deodorants and toothpastes and gargles on the sink top. (Never satisfied with just one of anything, the woman had four or five of everything in use at once!) After only a week, what small surface area of the sink that wasn't crammed with products, was re-sprinkled in dust, face powder and hair, so not doing it seemed like it wasn't really an option. She wondered if she could sweep everything off into a basket, without breaking something, to make the job quicker. It was such a petty concern, but the small job took a remarkable amount of time. There was no point in looking for a basket for the task. Asking for one would have been met with: "What would you need it for, when you can just give everything a quick wipe?" followed by the slightly appalled look, or the blank stare. She would have to bring something from home.
Valentina removed all of the other toiletries from around the bath... She was just wondering if she ought to stop and check the washing she had put in (she needed to buy a watch!) and then realised in rushing, she had forgotten to put the S-T's underwear and hankies in with the load. She would have to put in another load before she left and worried how she would explain the oversight, which she was certain would not be missed... Focusing on the bath: she moved the figurines around it, lifting them with both hands and carefully placing them on the bath mat, one at a time out of foot's way. In contrast to many of the other 'valuable antiques' in the Shnellbrot-Thomas household, these actually looked like they were worth something. So, naturally they were kept by the bath, where they would slip out of some poor cleaner's wet hands!
After drying everything and polished the taps, she took hold of the figurines (this time with the rubber gloves on for extra grip) settling them back gently in their places around the bath. It wasn't until she was finished and everything was gleaming that she realised she had forgotten the soap dish. If she cleaned the dish, it would set her back even further, but if she did not, there was likely to be some generously casual mention of the matter, which would only get on her nerves for many days after. This is what her life had come to: worrying about some boorish woman's slimy soap dish and absent clothes baskets!
She put the soap on the used bath mat and took the dish to the sink. As she scrubbed as quickly as she could, old memories flooded her thoughts. Valentina could tell soap was from a company in London because the new cake had the brand "FLORIS" moulded into it. She couldn't help the contemptuous thought popping into her mind that the woman must have been spending all the money she saved on ordinary household expenses on inordinately expensive hand soap... For some reason the scent reminded her of the Caribbean.
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