Monday, August 30, 2010

More Art

I arrived this morning to this, proudly displayed on the kitchen bench. I'd spent the bulk of the weekend attempting to drink my own body weight and was a little wonky in the old existing department. I spent about ten minutes leaning over the expensive granite counter, trying to ascertain exactly what the deuce I'd come across.

Was it a merkin once owned by Alan Jones nestled in the paper coffin of his dignity? My boss is a huge fan, so it was entirely possible that he'd purchase said memorabilia.

Did some unfortunate possum get stuck in a hairdressers for a long weekend and subsist entirely on trimmings before escaping and passing a big furry poop in the family kitchen?

Was I supposed to clean it?!

I picked up the girls and fed them an afternoon snack of avocado on crackers (the little darlings wanted cheddar shapes and a milkshake but I refused on behalf of their cholesterol levels). A, the youngest, picked up the thing and asked proudly if I liked her diorama. I told her it was beautiful, and asked what it was.

She looked at me with an expression somewhere between bewilderment and disdain.

'It's a bear. In a boat.'


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Politics and Penny-Pinching

The girls are like chubby, silver-spoon, ultra-absorbent sponges. They soak up every right-wing tidbit their Dad throws at them and regurgitate it with the special enthusiasm reserved for the under ten. I spend a lot of time gently explaining that a person's political/moral/religious beliefs are personal, and when they differ from your own it doesn't mean you can treat them any differently. Political correctness is difficult when what I want to say goes along the lines of 'You're both ridiculously privileged and I have mild rage about it and your Dad is about as rational as an irritated German Shepherd on heat and if you don't stop eating packets of crisps you'll have heart disease by the time you're thirty.'

Earlier this week, they cornered me in the kitchen. 'Who did you vote for?' asked K.
'Local or Federal?'. Blank looks.
'Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard!'
'Labor. Julia Gillard.'

They reacted like I'd told them I'd eaten a newborn kitten, fried with eggs, for breakfast. 'No!' said K. 'The Red Devil! She's evil! Please let's pretend that you voted for Tony Abbott!'.

Yes. And I'll pretend that there aren't two stuffed yak heads peering down on us from the kitchen walls, and that it was the tooth fairy who puts fifty dollars under your pillow when you lose a molar. At fifty dollars a tooth, I'd be yanking them out with pliers.

Yesterday Dad told me that as I was doing such an efficient job of keeping the manor clean, I wouldn't be needed tomorrow. Then he told me that money was short because of god-damned Labor and the election it meant that people were watching their pockets. So rather than have me come and cook for the children, he'd just take them to Matteo's for dinner.

At $35-ish per main, I can see how this would be a pragmatic choice.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

out of the closet, mummy

It's a little troubling when you start the week with a letter with words like 'unacceptable' and phrases like 'this household runs to standards which must be strictly followed'. It's worse when the letter fills a whole A4 page with heavy black ink and has the stricter instructions underlined. And perhaps the clincher is when the letter details the 'despicable' state of a wardrobe. Yes, a wardrobe. Sure, it's a beautiful mahogany dating back about a thousand years that was probably carved by Grecian virgins in silk robes and is worth more than I've made in the past ten years of menial work. It's filled with uniforms for two kids whose added ages equal less than Justin Bieber's.

Upon receiving said letter I raced up the stairs, terrified that I'd perhaps confused the closet with a toilet and urinated all over it before tearing up the girl's clothes and writing 'penis' in permanent marker on the doors before smearing the cat's litter box in the drawers. Dear reader, the tone of his note is what you'd expect if I'd beaten his kids with a metal rasp. I found the closet, wee and cat faeces free, with a couple of skivvies inside out in the wrong drawer.

Yes, this man is utterly bananas.

The girls have their own little quirks. During bath time this evening, they insisted I show them my tummy. Insisted is a weak word. When I refused, the younger one started crying. I pulled up my top and they stared, aghast. 'It's FLAT' said eight year old K. 'Stop sucking it in!' I insisted that I wasn't. They made me take deep breaths to prove it. 'Can you have a shower while we have a bath?' asked six year old A. Nope. 'But we want to see you with no clothes on!'

Ah, yes. Turns out the kids are mental, too.

Even more worrisome was dinner time. They'd called me mum a couple of times and I'd pretended not to notice. 'Mum, can you cut up my fish?' asked A. I obliged. 'Possum,' I said, 'I'm not your mum. I'm your nanny.' K pouted. 'But you do everything a mum does and we love you so you're our mum now.'

Ok. Sweet Jesus. Not only do I not remember having unprotected sex with their bonkers fifty-something year old, ostentatious father, or the part where they popped out of my nether regions, but I'm now bridled with the responsibility of having to remember their birthdays every year and care about whatever beige thing happened in their day. Am tempted to set fire to something so I can get fired and return to the safety of making lattes. Or perhaps I'll just take a whiz in the wardrobe.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


One small joy of nannying is the gifts I'm receiving from the children, bless their starched cotton socks. For all you bearers of children out there, here's a simple guide to finding whether or not your offspring has a future as an artist.

Question one- does your child have any discernible talent?

Um, nope.

On Cleaning

I've awoken to a gorgeous day, a cracking hangover and a deep unease in my belly. Surely the people of this nation haven't elected a bible bashing neo-conservative who hates the gay community, still holds to neoliberal capitalist economic ideals and has the same patronising reaction toward women that I have when I see a cute puppy. Surely we're cleverer than that. I'm going to Sweden.

Dear reader, I work for a man who will be delighted by our new Jesus-worshipping potentate. There are no skewed values like a wealthy families. Remarkable things the rich do (or make the hired help do for them):

1. Everything must be ironed. Silly pleb, did you think ironing was a perfunctory swipe across a business shirt? Wrong. Sheets, tea towels, underwear, t-shirts all need ironing. The bath mat needs ironing. Socks need ironing. Status is a fragile thing, and one ill placed crease near a well shined shoe (a nightly task for me, if you were wondering) can destroy it.

2. Things are only meant to be worn/used once before washing. This includes pyjamas and bath towels. What drought?

3. Oxidisation is unnatural and not to be tolerated. If there is but a taint of brown on an apple, it is unfit for human consumption and must be binned.

4. You are only as good as the cleanliness of your front porch. It needs bi-weekly mopping, or else you might as well smoke crack in a bin liner outside the Hungry Jacks on Swanston Street.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stuffed Animals, Lady.

This week I began nannying for a wealthy inner city family. My early thoughts were- huzzah! A generous hourly rate, a Monday to Friday gig with minimal stress- farewell endless coffee making!

How little I've learned in my minimal years. Surely a wiser woman would have found something a little untoward about the taxidermy in every room. She would have felt a little odd when first encountering the enormous lion that snarls, stuffed at the front door. Perhaps that uneasy feeling would have mounted when she met a panda turned into a rug in the upstairs hallway, or a rhino's head mounted to the wall in the den. She would have felt a little ill when her new boss pointed out the Ming vases, the vintage car garage...

And casually mentioned he'd fired the cleaning lady in a mansion that holds seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, two game rooms, three living spaces, two ornamental hallways, one gigantic kitchen, one formal dining room, one casual dining room, and a pink and lime green glitter playroom.

Oh, dear reader, I am not wise, and suffer selective observation. I saw the vintage Rolls Royce that would be my nanny car, and two sweet, albeit very overweight girls with stripper names eating chocolate out of china bowls. I took the job, grinning.

Perhaps for our hypothetical wise woman the following event would have been the expensive straw on the taxidermied camel's back.

Last Saturday, Dad bundled the girls and I into the nanny car to do the drive to their very exclusive private girls school that costs a little more per term, per girl than I made in the last financial year. I was a little nervous, made even more so by K's (the most neurotic eight year old I've ever encountered) monologue that she was 'worried Claire is a bad driver, and she'll make the car go too fast, and then it'll crash, and a truck will come through my door and cut my head off'. I alleviated her fears by stopping at a traffic lights, getting confused by the old school controls, and instead of indicating left threw the car into reverse. Good.

On the way back from our drive, during most of which the girls whined they were hungry, causing me to repress me urge to tell them they'd benefit from feeding off their excess body fat for a few weeks; there was a mortifying event that should have sent me fleeing back to the benign drudgery of being a waitress.

After grilling me about music, a conversation that featured heavily in her love for Lady Gaga, K said: 'Claire, you should go on a date with my Dad!'

I laughed and explained that I was the nanny, and that was all.

'But my Dad thinks you're really hot, and that's why he gave you the job.' said K.

Stunned, horrible silence. Dad goes a horrible shade of purple. I nearly crash the car. 'Don't tell terrible lies! It's very very bad to tell lies!' yelled Dad.

K starts crying. 'But I DIDN'T lie! I HEARD YOU tell your friend!'

Oh, Jesus. If you can picture a man decked in designer gear, dripping in gold, trying to compact his portly frame into the space between the seat and the door, don't, because it was awful. The front seat was radiating with shame. The girls started singing 'Telephone' in the back. I managed to make it back to the mansion without driving the car under a semi trailer.

And for some fucked reason I agreed to start on Monday.