I don’t want to give the impression that I was pampered growing up. I did a lot of chores, but for some reason, mopping the floor wasn’t one of them.
In my twenties and thirties, I managed to get by in the flats I rented by (infrequently) sweeping and hoovering. Latterly, I bought a streamlined version of a mop made by Vileda, which looked like it had been designed for people like me (professionals who can’t really be bothered). Except it wasn’t what you would think of as a proper mop. It didn’t come with a bucket, anyway.
So it wasn’t until this last year that I bought a proper mop and bucket for the first time (also from Vileda – this is not advertising, just a coincidence). And I was struck, after my first experience, how pleasurable I found it.
Occasionally (like now) I think about this. It makes me wonder. Most people think of it as a labour, a tiresome but expedient task, and one that, with the right means, might be outsourced to a professional cleaner. But having spent several months soaking up the dirt from my kitchen floor, I can say there’s no way I would relinquish the job.
I try to analyse it, but it resists. There’s something about the mop itself. The ringing it out, then slopping more water on the floor. Then there’s something about the movement of it; the steady, metronomic shuffle across the faux-pine lino.
In much the same way I find my mind drifting off to an internal, ethereal plain when I am immersed in a book, or coursing on autopilot through a long walk, mopping the floor releases me into the carefree, unconscious pulse of things. I feel at my most ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’.
When I am mopping I ‘just am’; all the crass, unimportant thrusting neuroticism of the modern world and its overwrought ambitions, vanishes before the simple beat of life.
There is pleasure in simple things.