We have just cleaned under the couch.

And survived.

Gasp, please. Since we moved in, ten months ago, this place has never been cleaned like this.

And wow, did it need it. Under the couch there were four books, three pens, two socks and one puzzle piece. No partriges or pear trees – though the puzzle piece was a fruit.

The thing with cleaning is that you have to start with tidying up or you can’t get to the dirt. You have to move the couch if you want to get the dust (and the rest of the children’s books). You have to get the toys off the rug and roll it up to get to the bit of wine bottle foil stuck to the bottom of the rug.

Fortunately you CAN clean the shower without taking the laundry off the rack over the top, but you can’t do a really good job of it without wetting the laundry.

I started writing a short story today. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I know what effect I want it to have, I know a few of the important moments and I have a bunch of ideas for other things that may or may not make the final cut.

But I put the first words down today:

We started playing Risk at half past three in the morning, which is a bad idea. Risk is almost always a bad idea – the board game, I mean. It always ends in tears. It often ends in a shower of tiny plastic soldiers and minor damage to the board.  

That’s how it starts, for now. There’s nothing obviously wrong with that. I could probably cut that ‘almost’ before ‘always’ in the second sentence. There’s bound to be a more succinct way to work that third sentence but it would lose some of the voice. The fourth sentence is a cliche. Ick. Okay, there is something obviously wrong with that.

I’ve been thinking about this story for a while, but I still don’t really know what needs to go on the page to tell it. I have to pick up the toys before we can clean the floor; I have to write the story before I can figure out what it needs. Weak metaphor? Absolutely, but I’ve been cleaning. Blame the chemicals. Or perhaps I’m allergic to actual cleaning – not just the products.

Entirely possible.

Anyway, we have friends visiting this weekend – hence the housework. Luuk’s waiting at the train station for them this very minute. It always takes longer than expected to get here from Gare du Nord.

We’ve been looking forward to this visit for ages. These are dear friends from NZ, though they live in Europe, and we’re due a good catch up. The house was a filthy bomb site this morning and these friends are quite a bit cleaner and tidier than we were even before we had children. Now we have two and they none and the great housework divide has deepened.

But so has the number of novels I’ve written. Can’t do everything.

They’re only here for two nights and would no doubt insist we needn’t clean especially, but we need the kick in the pants to get these things done. Anyway, house looks lovely. And I found my Paris 2012 restaurant guide! It’s been lost for at least six months of 2012, unfortunately, but was of course on the bookshelf all along.

I have a box full of patisser’s goodies in the kitchen and I’d better pop them on little plates and sort out hot drink things before everyone gets here.

Very excited. [Squeaks.]