Di and Di were a mother and daughter team. They were ‘cleaners’. We got them recommended by Marina, an organic grower. That was good enough for us, in the authenticity stakes.
Di the daughter – ‘Young’ Di – was about 40 and was grotesquely overweight. You couldn’t look at her and not feel sorry for her. They were both great talkers – a double-act. When we got them we congratulated ourselves on having such authentic cleaners. It’s the same with Bea and Dana now – except B and D are also actually GOOD CLEANERS.
Di and Di weren’t. They’d just want to sit down and perform – in front of an audience of two. They both had a good, bitter sense of humour – and were both more or less illiterate. Old Di had been a military wife in Germany, back when she was still married to ‘him’.
That was the whole reason we lived in Essex, we told ourselves. At £10 an hour, they were cheap entertainment.
For a month or two young Di was ill (diabetes) and so her daughter came instead. Heidi! She could actually clean. She was about 20 and she seemed ‘good value’.
I suppose the kids were 7, 5 and 1, more or less. J had about £40 in his money box – approximately. He’d just been given a fiver here and there ever since he was born (including from our neighbours on the Green, in an immaculately copperplated envelope…). He didn’t really know or care about money (still doesn’t, at 17 and three quarters). Some time during the weeks that followed, I happened to check his money-box (maybe it had been moved and I thought: hmmmm…). It was empty.
We thought – rightly or wrongly – that it was Heidi. We hadn’t even employed her – we’d just been foisted with her. And she had that too-ready smile. We didn’t trust her, so we said ‘no thanks’ to Heidi, pretending we were skint. We’d just make do with one Di…
But she STILL couldn’t clean! So basically – after much agonising on my part – we pleaded being skint and said our farewells. (But Di – and later Di again – STILL cleaned for Marina. She pulled her hair out over them, but she just WOULDN’T sack them. They went on working for her for AGES… Perhaps even till she moved to Totnes…)