My car is filthy.
Not me, my car. I am not one of those people who have empty coffee cups rolling around the footwells, or sports bags full of socks that could get out and walk themselves. My car is one of the few places that I regularly inhabit that is bordering on monk-like. But that is the only thing under my control and all the other factors conspire against me.
It is housed in a garage at night, but during the day I have to park it in the open air, and there appears to be a collection of pretty busy birds whose mission is to fly across the carpark and deposit what is left of their breakfast or lunch after they have finished digesting it onto my car. It seems to happen at specific times of the year but the result is a car covered in white streaks.
Then there is the dogs. I love my dogs, but Lucy spreads white fur wherever she lands within seconds on landing there. Archie does not shed, but his fur holds so much sand you could create a golf course bunker if you harvested it, and his fur gets greasy and holds on to smells.
So my car smells of dog, is covered in white fur and has sand everywhere. Oh and there is slobber – loads of it. I am not sure when Lucy gets the time to breathe on and lick the windows, but she finds it somewhere because they are totally opaque.
Not any more, people. Today I got my car cleaned in anticpation of the baby child arriving (who may well puke milk all over the seats) and my other brother touching down too. I left the car with a company for a clean today. I have down this once before, a couple of years ago. When I went to pick it up, the guy looked frustrated.
‘Do you have a cat?’ he asked.
‘No,’ I said.
‘There is… there is white fur,’ he went on, ‘that we have been unable to move with the vacuum.’
‘Lucy,’ I nodded, ‘yes her fur is very…persistent.’
‘The only thing that will get the fur out,’ he explained, ‘is to steam clean the seats.’
So there I was, a mere two years later, ready to get the seats steam cleaned. A hundred bucks to remove Lucy’s fur and Archie’s smell. And a ton of sand.
‘When do you want to pick it up?’ the man asked.
‘When will it be ready?’ I asked.
‘When do you need it?’ he countered.
I had no idea this needed negotiation. Perhaps the British government might consider me to organise Brexit once I was through.
‘How about in one hour?’ I asked.
‘This,’ he gestured at my car, ‘this will take more than one hour.’
‘So why didn’t you just tell me how long you need?’ I thought, but instead said, ‘How about 1pm?’
‘Yes,’ he said. The deal had been struck.
I went back at lunchtime to pick up my car and I could smell its loveliness even as I approached it from the road. It was like a new car, with a shiny oiled steerng wheel, newly blacked tyres, and not a white fur in sight. They had done it.
‘Thanks,’ I said as I took the keys off them and drove it away. Thursday – only three days to keep it clean until one brother arrives and another three before the other arrives with the baby.
That was the easy bit. Now I have to tell Lucy she is not allowed in the car.