Arguably the best job in the world! Today…it is my job to clean all of the inside windows of this beautiful five storey house. I don’t normally stop to look at the view so much but already today I have gained a great deal of inspiration for future posts.
Right now…I want to tell you about one of the most loved window-cleaners in the whole of England…MY DAD!
(No…my Dad is not George Formby…if you are not sure who George Formby is, then either scroll down to the bottom of the page, or listen to this very famous track on YouTube.)
I mentioned in another post that during our school holidays, we often had to go to work with Dad. Since I was born, Dad has been a window-cleaner. I have very fond memories. I remember having the job of carrying “the little ladder” and always had some “scrims” in my pockets (they were the cloths used for mopping up water from sills etc or for cleaning Georgian window panels). Dad gave us tasks so that we felt useful. During a day of window cleaning we might carry things, or wipe any sills we could reach, or hold back plants away from the window so Dad could clean them easily. Sometimes, Dad would ask us to run ahead and ring the doorbell and when the house-holder opened the door we would politely tell them, “the window-cleaner has almost finished and he says it is £4.50 please”.
Some of Dad’s customers have seen his little ones growing up. At the age of five or six, I used to wear red wellington boots and a green woolly bobble hat. One day I lost my bobble hat and was very tearful about it. Dad allowed me to join him on the Friday evening when he visited any customers who had not been home that week to collect any payments they owed him. I asked every customer if they had seen my green bobble hat. Imagine my relief when one lady said she had found it in her garden and had recognized it immediately and had kindly kept it safe until the window-cleaner came again.
Dad’s customers were very kind to us. They might invite us inside to play with their children, or sit us on their sofa and allow us to watch a cartoon film. We were well supplied by Dad’s customers with juice and biscuits. They would even give us some money to buy sweets.
Dad’s customers loved him and his little team of helpers.
Now…my daddy is 70 years old…officially he has retired. However, he still goes window-cleaning for one or two days a week so that he can afford a holiday in the sun with my lovely mum once a year.
70 years old! Not only is he still window-cleaning, but he goes to the gym three times a week…he uses his free bus pass to get to the gym. I love what he does when he is on the tread-mill. If a younger man starts on the tread-mill next to him, my Dad will start “racing” with him. I have even seen my Dad lean over and nudge the arm of a complete stranger on the neighbouring tread-mill and call out “I’ll have yer a race!” Better still, he is usually the winner.
Which makes me smile for so many reasons.
Working for wealthy people has made me wonder many times:
There are people who who sit at a desk all day and then pay a monthly gym membership fee to try to keep in shape. My Dad has been going up ladders for all these years and he is incredibly fit. It is only since he has started to received his pension that he has decided to join a gym.
I have often observed that there are some people who “own” huge and beautiful houses…who don’t really spend much time in their homes because they are at work paying off the mortgage. Whereas their house-keeper spends many hours in their home and knows every nook and cranny of it. Some house-keepers cook for hours in a top-of -the range kitchen that their employer has paid for, but never even heated a tin of tomato soup in themselves.
Then there are the parents who have children who they hardly ever spend time with. The nanny is bringing up the children. Now, I am not talking about those who have little choice about this – due to circumstances. Some parents have to work so many hours just to provide a roof and food and clothing for the family that a baby-sitter or nanny is an essential part of the team. But I am talking about some of the super-wealthy I have worked for, mum is off to have her nails done and go to yoga and pilates and a shopping trip and lunch with the girls…and the nanny is with the children. I saw this day after day and I always found it a bit odd. I am not sure what the point of that is. Is not the point of having a child to be able to teach them and shape their little minds and hearts them with all of the wonderful lessons in life that you have learnt? How can you do that if you see them so infrequently? Who is there to take the child to school? To care for the child when they have chicken pox? To listen to the little one pour out their heart about their trials and tribulations at school? Why – the nanny! Respect to nannies everywhere!
Now this is one of the oddest situations I have been in that still strikes me as kind of hilariously upside down. I lived for a few years in an idyllic location. Six months of the year the owners of a stunning estate would travel. My job was to live in their huge and frightfully luxurious house. I was not paid a penny to do so, but neither did I pay any rent or bills. I was “security”. I was allowed to view their home as my home. I was allowed to swim in their swimming pool each day. I was allowed to use their tennis courts whenever I wanted to. I was able to walk their dog throughout their woodlands and meadows. They wanted me to drive each of their five cars to make sure everything was alright with them. Even better, I was allowed to have my friends over. They wanted there to be people coming in and out of their property to deter potential burglars. Of course I did also have to make sure that if anything went wrong that I contacted a plumber or an electrician or the vet. Other than that, my only work was cleaning up after myself. I was heavily involved in voluntary projects so this living arrangement suited me perfectly. But it did seem incredibly ironic…there were young professionals in the area who had been through university and obtained top degrees and were now working hard in their chosen career…they could only afford a tiny bedsit. I was working on an unpaid basis for charities and then earning my food money with a couple of cleaning and dog-walking jobs…I was living in luxury. The owners of that estate trusted me with almost everything they owned.
Window Cleaning with Dad has definitely taught me to think outside of the box. His example has taught me that if you are reliable and diligent and industrious and most of all a TRUSTWORTHY worker…then rather than worrying about climbing a career ladder…
…well…let’s just say: “If only you could see what I could see when I’m cleaning windows!”
PS…Did I almost forget to mention George Formby? The very inspiration to this post!!! I was listening to it today when I was working away cleaning the windows.
Another blogger – hold on moment…let me get her name right…Thechaoticmind…she has a post listing a great selection of five songs that will cheer you up on any day…below is a link straight to her site…I loved her choice of songs – perfect pick-me-ups for any down day…
….but I would be pleased to make George Formby number six on the list…are you rolling your eyes at me???