Mondays Observer Column – Clean With Ease

“You know you’re soaking in it?”  Remember the ad where a woman has paid for a nail treatment, and is informed by Madge, the alleged beautician, that her hands are actually soaking in cheap dishwashing detergent?  And instead of being outraged and upset, and rightly so, she shrugs her shoulders and grins as Madge firmly pushes her paw back into the dish.  That highlights the problem with advertising, we don’t buy the product, we buy ‘the story’.  Especially the stories written on the labels of beauty and bathroom cleaning products. 

Recently I was swanning past the bathroom on some errand, when I noticed Long Suffering Wife on her hands and knees scrubbing the bathtub.  “Ah, the scent of cow urine,” I remarked, sniffing the air.  Brushing some hair away from her eyes with a forearm, she looked up at me and said, “What?!”

“Cow urine.  That’s what bleach is made of.  You know you’re soaking in it?”  Moments later she was frantically scrubbing herself clean in the laundry tub while I tried to wrestle her gloves on.  Rubber gloves are fairly stretchy, but not quite stretchy enough to fit my mitts and when one of them snapped off, rebounding off the mirror and draping itself over my shoulder, I tossed them aside with a sigh, and got scrubbing.      

Things were progressing smoothly until the bleach ran out.  Sitting in front of the laundry cupboard, I read the labels on all the bottles stored inside:  Smashes Scum.  Mauls Mould.  Grapples with Gunk.  Tussles with Tarnish.  All of them promised so much, for so little effort:  No scrubbing.  No scouring.  Polish with Ease.  Spray and Rinse.  But in spite of all the blurb, there wasn’t enough left in any one bottle to finish the job.      

Inspiration struck, and as I merrily poured all the remains into a bucket, the thought occurred to me that I might be actually be brewing a cleaning product that really works.  Humming a cheerful little marketing jingle, I made my way back to the bathroom carting my bubbling and smoking concoction.

Splashing the chemical cocktail all over the shower cubicle I waited for the magic to happen.  And it did!  A little cartoon bluebird appeared on my left shoulder.  “Hullo,” I smiled, “shouldn’t you be hanging out with Snow White?”  He shrugged and said in a rough New York accent, “Nah, I got sick of all the singing, and she don’t need me no more since the dwarfs found that uranium deposit.  So watcha up to?”

Waving a hand round the bathroom, “Inventing a new cleaning product,” I replied proudly.  He looked unimpressed, “Should it be dissolving the grout like that?”

“Um, no,” I said, grappling for the shower taps, “but it has removed the mould and soap scum though.”  As I frantically rinsed, the fumes grew stronger, and at that point a second birdie appeared, this time a miniature vulture wearing a napkin, “What’ve I missed?” he asked the Bluebird.

“Mr. Glow here has been mixing bathroom chemicals,” came the bored reply. 

At that point LSW emerged in the doorway, “What’s that smell!” she cried.   

“Sshhtruth! It’sh, the mishuss,” I garbled to the birds, misplacing a slightly singed warning finger to my ear instead of my lips, “better let…, better let, me do all the thingy…, talking.” 

“Hallo! O Queen of the Shuburbs!” I warbled, bowing deeply and falling to the floor.  Turning on the extractor fan, she shuffled me outside away from the worst of the billowing vapours, and while I sat propped up on the back deck, she hosed down the tiles.      

Further experiments with my ‘Wonder Product’ were halted when it burned through the bottom of my good steel bucket, but my hands will definitely be much softer when the new skin grows back.  And as an added bonus, I haven’t had to clean the bathroom since;  I’m not allowed to.


Filed under Columns, Writing

2 responses to “Mondays Observer Column – Clean With Ease

  1. Steve H

    Maaate….one of the many hats I wear at work is the area Chemical Safety Coordinator. For some strange reason, there is an application in the system to check for “Incompatable Substances”.

    Surprisingly enough a lot of common items do not get on well and require a minimum 3 metre seperation between them. I’m thinking you may need some help in this area….let me book you in for a session on day when your hands can function properly again!!!

    Cheers, Steve

    • gladbloke

      Stevo, my hands are ok, but my brain is still suffering from after effects. That little vulture is still appearing from time to time and rubbing his wings together 😦

      Cheers mate,


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