.....I have managed to elicit an honest response from an estate agent. Last week the lovely Lesley rings and tells me, 'Basically, Claire, you need to clean your house.' Thanks love, I already knew that.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time will know that my living space usually resembles a cross between a Tracy Emin installation and an experiment into the longevity of unwashed coffee mugs. Since marrying someone who is considerably more tidy than I am (I would have had to go a long, long way to find anybody messier) I have curbed my creative and scientific tendencies, and now we have children I have made an immense effort to ensure my house is not one huge trip hazard. I get tidying: put stuff away; if something doesn't have a place either throw it in the bin or put it in the cupboard under the stairs and shut the door really, really hard. Simple.
So phase one of my transformation from scummy student to domestic diva is almost complete, and it has only taken me 10 years. Now I have brought some semblance of order, however, the dirt is clearly visible. It is here that I become unstuck, and for this, of course, I blame my mother. As a child I asked her how to use the washing machine and she replied, 'It's easy.' Be that as it may, but if you don't even show me once, what chance have I got? I know she swept the stairs with a brush and hoovered a lot, so I started there. I then recalled that a lot of swishing of cloths went on in the bathroom and kitchen, so I have emulated that with some degree of success. Dad used to do lots of ironing, but I still fail to see the point of this and don't even own an ironing board.
In search of further inspiration, I borrowed the book 'How Clean Is Your House?' Not very, is the obvious answer. Apparently, one should wipe down objects such as light switches and door handles weekly. And as for scrubbing the skirting board..... I am sure that if I followed all Kim and Aggie's instructions I would spend more time cleaning than there are hours in the week.
So, shall I take the estate agents advice and spend the best part of the week wearing rubber gloves? No, I figure that it is much less bother to knock £10k off the asking price.