Welcome to the fiction page!
I wrote this a number of years ago as part of my English degree course. The brief was a monologue – a person’s speech to the camera/audience – and I took my inspiration from Blood Brothers, which I had recently seen, and in which the lead female character is also a cleaner.
Woman enters a kitchen and sits down. She is wearing cleaning overalls. (Accent like Julie Walters)
So I’m a cleaner right? And my Mam said to do whatever yer doin’ to the best of yer ability. Now yer could say that cleanin’ i’n’t very hard job and not a very good one either. And it’s not really. But she also said do it with a good grace, be yer cleanin’ toilets or Lady Muck ‘erself.
‘Sides, it’s not all bad really. I do ‘ouses see. Tried a school once but even Mam couldn’t’ve done that one with a good grace. Now I just clean these ‘ouses.
My personal favourite is Mrs O’Brien. Laura I’m s’posed to call ‘er but I can’t quite get my ‘ead round that one. They live in this big ‘ouse on Park Lane. Like the Monopoly board only not in London. Fantastic it is. So many nice things, yer’d never believe it! Sometimes, I just stand there and look. At all these nice things. I know I shouldn’t, so I don’t do it f’too long. Some o’ these women are right tartars but not Mrs O’Brien. Always ‘appy to pass the time of day. Doesn’t patronise like some do. ‘Er ‘usband’s away a lot see, so it’s nice for ‘er to ‘ave some company. They don’t ‘ave kids. Just the two o’them rattlin’ round in that big ‘ouse. Still, she does a lot o’ charity work. Gives me some of ‘er clothes sometimes. But real tactful like, not charity. Though I s’pose it is really. (pause)
And ‘er house is a real pleasure to clean. Yer can polish some ‘ouses till yer arm falls off but this one just shines. Hard enough to see yer face in the mirror in my ‘ouse. (pause)
And then there’s Bruno. Ah, Bruno. ‘E sounds like a boxer but ‘e’s dead quiet. Very respectful like, ‘Please Mrs Black’, ‘yes Mrs Black’. Not like my two great galoots, ‘Oi, Mam! Yer got any money for t’pictures?’ Only reason I ‘ad to take this job. Course I love ‘em but they aren’t ‘alf expensive. Some trainer they’re on about now. That they need obviously. Got two pairs o’ perfectly good ones, but these, these are special. I don’t understand apparently. Converse they call ‘em. Don’t quite see the difference ‘tween them and what they’ve got on their huge great feet but that’d be ‘cos I’m old.
Anyway, Bruno. ‘E’s a real pet. ‘As ‘is own flat up the posh end. Dead nice. ‘E works in some high flyin’ job in an office. Cooped up all day, must be awful. Wouldn’t catch me doin’ that I can tell yer! ‘E’s a bit soft really. But in a nice way. (pause) Over protected. Very nice to ‘is Mam, rings ‘er every Thursday. Can’t see my two doin’ that. If they ever do move out.
‘E don’t really need a cleaner does Bruno. ‘E tidies up ‘fore I get there, bless ‘im. Think it’s the woman’s, y’know, mother’s touch he misses. ‘E’s not got a girlfriend. Sure ‘e’d make a lovely ‘usband though. So polite and thoughtful. Strange what women prefer, our Kevin’s got two on the go and ‘e’s ‘ad three before. Does surprise yer. (pause) I suppose. No. Kevin’s not what yer’d call sweet and I’m ‘is mother!
I only do Bruno’s once a week, in the evenin’. Sometimes I leave ‘im a nice casserole or somethin’. Bit o’real ‘ome cooking. Dead pleased ‘e is! Blushes beetroot an’ ‘O Mrs Black,’ he goes, ‘I don’t know what to say’. So I say ‘don’t say anyt’in’ pet,’ and give ‘im a quick peck on the cheek. Makes ‘im go even redder!
There’s another one I do everyday, like Mrs O’Brien. Mrs ‘ardthorne. ‘Ard an’ thorny’s about right an’ all. Total opposite of Mrs O’Brien. Manages to drive me nuts most days. But like me Mam said, do it with a good grace, so I try not to let ‘er get to me. Can be quite ‘ard though.
She’s 65 if she’s a day and she ‘as nothin’ to do. Her ‘usband died and I’m very sorry for anyone whose ‘usband’s died but that woman, she moans and moans! Yer’d think she was dyin’ the way she carries on at yer! Tries to make out she’s richer than she is. Yer see a lot when yer inside someone’s ‘ome. All these china ornaments, I swear she buys ‘em to make me clean ‘em! I can’t stand the things, all these animals, all twee like. And babies with podgy faces that don’t ever grow up! Well, each to their own. Barry brought me one for Christmas just ‘fore ‘e left. S’pose I should be glad there was some original thought there. But I ‘ate the bleedin’ things. Still, once ‘e was gone I got rid of it. I added it to Mrs ‘ardthorne’s collection when she weren’t lookin’. I saw ‘er pawin’ over it later. She never said anyt’in’ bout it but it’s nice to know it’s got an ‘ome. One that Barry would ‘ate an’ all. (pause)
I don’t resent ‘im for leavin’. It were a couple o’ years ago now. Not much point in dwellin’ on it. I thought ‘e’d got some floozy but turns out the Chris I thought was a woman wasn’t. Bit of a shock that one, kept it quiet.
Still, I let the boys think ‘e’d gone off with some tart, better that really. ‘E did try an’ explain but I just let ‘im go. Boys were more int’rested in what was for tea anyway. Always thinkin’ o’ their stomachs those two. That an’ trainers.
I got it easy though. Lynda who lives next door, she’s got four boys and two girls. Them girls are worse than our boys put together! Forever goin’ on about clothes an’ make up. Yer can ‘ear ‘em in the evenin’ ‘avin’ a go at each other. Our Grant fancies the younger one. Won’t tell ‘er though. An’ if I so much as mention ‘er, ‘e goes bright red and all defensive like, which I think just proves me point really don’t it?
Would be nice if one of ‘em could get married. (pause) I’d love to ’ave an ‘at. One o’ them proper ones, like Mrs O’Brien’s got. She only wears them when she’s got some fancy do. But I wouldn’t ‘alf like one. With a real ‘atbox, just to show it off!
I know who’s got a lot o’ clothes. Marian Evans. I clean for ‘er an’ I do all the washin’. I don’t think I’ve seen the same thing twice and I’ve been workin’ there three years now. ‘Er three run wild. I’ve no soon as tidied up as they’ve messed it up again. Marian doesn’t mind though, she’s very (pause) floaty, not quite in the real world. She sort o’ tinkles when she laughs. Not surprisin’ they run wild really. Give ‘em a good smack on the back o’ the legs an’ they’d soon be sorted. Never did my two any ‘arm. Yer could say it didn’t do ‘em much good either but there we go. Look at ‘em both. But I like to think I made the best o’ them. Least they’ve got jobs which is more than could be said for some people.
Can’t complain. I quite like me life really, for all me moanin’. Quite fun to go an’ ‘ave a look in other people’s ‘ouses, even if yer are tidyin’ up their mess. Brings in a wage. We do quite well in our ‘ouse.
Oh bleedin’ hell, ‘ere’s Sandra and Angie both ‘ere for our Kevin. There’s gonna be ‘ell to pay in a minute…