Mrs Mopp was a character in a popular wartime radio show called ITMA ("It's That Man Again). A cleaning lady as cheerful as a cockney sparrer, she would go into the boss's premises wanting to get on with the cleaning. Her catchphrase was "Can I do you now, sir?"
It's quite a long time since I had a char to do me now, sir, and I have struggled to keep the house a few notches above pigsty.
Today, my tiled kitchen floor, which I have mopped a few times in a desultory fashion, looked up at me accusingly. So (you know how craven I am when faced with the otherness of inanimate objects) I got down on my knees with a bucket of sudsy hot water and a scouring pad, and scrubbed every single tile, all seventy or so of them.
My kitchen floor now SPARKLES. I hadn't realised that what I thought was patterning on the tiles was in fact dirt. Abso-bloody-lutely a-bloody-mazing, if you will forgive my tmesis.
But it leaves me with a problem: it is so beautiful, I daren't walk on it. I can't get to the fridge or the food cupboard or the microwave or the cooker or the kettle. I could easily starve to death or die of thirst here, and that, bence, meinetwegen, al mio paree and a mon avis, is too high a price to pay for beauty.
On the other hand, if I decide to re-employ a cleaning lady to do me now, sir, I will have six days in any week to mess the floor up, knowing that she will restore it on the seventh.
Did I tell you about the cartoon in Punch where a char is standing on the steps of a posh house. A very elegantly-dressed duchess-type has opened the door. The caption gives the char's words: "Are you the woman who advertised for a cleaning lady?" Funny lot, the English.