Monday 10th October 2011
VERA answered the advert within hours. The deal was sealed over a cuppa and a fag. She’s from the West Riding: speaks the same language. We bump into each other occasionally, had a natter in town the other week, mainly about our daughters and their children.
Her name is not Vera. Thought I’d better change it, following her (brief) rise to fame. Never expected anything like that to happen to my cleaner.
The Monday afternoon she didn’t turn up, I was worried. Perhaps one of her family had had an accident. She always called if she couldn’t make it. Not like her at all. I sent a text, and waited.
The reference I once wrote for her included:
“Vera has also willingly carried out those jobs which need less frequent attention, e.g. defrosting the fridge, cleaning windows, carpet shampooing. Everything she does is to a very high standard.”
For four years she’d dusted, mopped, washed and vacuumed the parts overlooked by my laziness.
Her reply to my text stated only that something had come up and she’d ring me. At least she was able to use the mobile. Never occurred to me she was in any way connected to that local news of national interest.
She’d been a taxi home from the station, taken me to gigs in remote schools, picked up my tired grandchildren at rainy-night coach stops. We often put the world to rights over a cuppa.
“Marcus, it’s me.”
Number withheld. Where was she?
“Sorry I’ve not been in touch. Everything’s gone mad. Even now there’s press camped out in the street. I’ve said ‘no comment’ so bloody often I’m saying it in my sleep. Not that I’m getting any.”
They’d called her on the Saturday, asking her to guard the house while they hid in a hotel. It all suddenly made sense. I would have to start looking for a replacement.
She came round, the following week. I was more intrigued than disappointed, but I was delighted for her and still am. It’s not every day your cleaner has to quit because she’s gone to work full-time for a couple who’ve won £56 million on the lottery.