When i first started working as a housekeeper i was 17.
I didn't even know what a housekeeper was then. I just liked the name.
I didn't know that after twenty five years of being in the profession, i would have a list of ailments that all come from doing this kind of work.
Arthritis in both knees.( from spending so much time on them).
And in my right arm (polishing arm).
Dodgy breathing. (from inhaling everything from Dettol to caustic soda- not much in the way of Health and Safety training in the old days.)
Back problems (from lugging all the equipment about.)
Actually, these problems aren't as bad as they sound, unless we get a spell of damp or cold weather, when they all hit at the same time, with the force of a nuclear attack.
So, pretty consistant, at the moment.
I try vainly to get off the settee, without having to bend my knees, or put any weight on to my arm, at the same time i'm sucking my breath in as the pain in my back starts.
Sy looks up from his paper.
I have found another role in the family as a barometer.
Sy will tell me periodically about his 'finger'
The 'finger' in question is the one he uses most when he's typing( self taught, so he uses his own tried and tested methods).
I know it's repetitive strain, but will he go to the doctors?
Will he buggery.
No sympathy from this woman, i can tell you.
He has other fingers. I have no more knees.
Of all these problems, there is one that affects me every day, without fail.
The state of my hands.
Now, i'm no spring chicken, but apparently i look young for my age, and i try to look half decent if we go out, but the hands are a different story.
The last time i went to the manicurist, she filed my nails, rubbed on some mega-expensive hand cream and told me there was nothing else she could do for me.
I felt like i'd been diagnosed with a terminal disease.
Thank God i don't have to shake hands with many people.
Sy took me to an event where the majority of people had never had to clean their own homes.
The first woman i shook hands with pulled her hand away in horror.
And that was enough for me.
After that, i kissed everyone (because that seems to be the thing to do) and kept my hands firmly tucked away.
In the past, i've tried every hand cream you can imagine. I'm still waiting for one to appear on the chemist shelves claiming to be able to deal with 'sandpaper hands and warty callouses'.
I'll bulk buy the minute it comes out. Buy shares in the company probably.
But i do have a product that helps a bit...and it's a huge secret, so don't tell.
Go to your nearest country supplies store (you know, somewhere that sells green wellies, wax jackets and dog food in tonne bags), head for the aisle that stocks supplies for cows (there might not actually be an aisle that stocks supplies for cows- if not, speak to an assistant), and then scan the shelves until you see....
Believe me, it works. It's the closest thing i've found to a half decent hand cream. And costs half the price.
My farming uncle put me onto it.
'If it stops cows udders from crackin' in the cold, it's gunna 'elp yer 'ands.'
Just don't fish it out your handbag at inopportune moments.
In the country, you might just get away with it- in the city, forget it.
You will lose your friends.
Till next time,
Shakespeare's Housekeeper xx
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