Living in Riga, there are many ways you could choose to spend your Sunday afternoon. You could go for an extremity-threatening stroll around the city; you could go to a gallery or a museum; you could sample the delights of the opera or the ballet or if you’re feeling a little less cultural and and a little more thirsty, go to one of the hundreds of pubs offering temptingly cheap beer.
I, however, chose to spend this Sunday cleaning my flat. And not just half-hearted ‘cleaning around things’ cleaning – actual ‘picking stuff up and cleaning under it’ cleaning. Now as I enjoy cleaning about as much as the average Latvian likes a good old chinwag about what they got up to at the weekend, there obviously had to be a very good reason for this decision. Yes folks, it’s the rarely-spotted Visitor From Home.
For those of you who have lived abroad for a few years, you’ll know what I mean. (Unless you’re super-popular and have Visitors From Home every weekend – in that case, I hate you.) When I first told my friends I was moving to Latvia, they all made heartfelt promises to visit. And after I had alleviated fears of run-ins with the Russian Mob and Eastern European sex-trafficking rings, most did. But after almost three years here, the visits have become a little thin on the ground. Hence the cleaning frenzy in honour of this seldom and wonderful occasion.
Visitors From Home are great for a number of reasons. First of all, they bring Irish bacon and sausages. Secondly, you get to see your chosen home through the eyes of someone else which almost makes it feel new again for you. You also get to have conversations with someone who actually wants to talk to you – no suspicious looks and one-word answers. And finally, and most importantly, they bring Irish bacon and sausages. I figure that in return for these priceless gifts, giving them a clean place to stay is the least I can do.
And so, this afternoon, I attacked my flat with gusto. In between reading what I should do if Domestos comes into contact with bare skin (it did) and, after an over-zealous attempt to clean my toilet, trying to making the decapitated head of my Mannekin Pis statuette reattach to his body (it didn’t), I managed to get the place looking half-decent.
As I finally sink into my sofa, writing with pruney fingers in my slightly soggy slippers (I mopped myself into a corner a couple of times), I know that it’s all worth it. The high I’m experiencing right now from the Cillit Bang fumes won’t be nearly as exhilarating as the high of having a Visitor From Home. Now I just need to try and keep the flat looking this way until Friday which is when the Visitor actually arrives…