I think I must be the only woman in Italy who hasn’t cleaned her house from attic to cantina 10 times already. I haven’t cleaned it once. My brain has gone through several stages during quarantine, sort of like Worzel Gummidge with his head changes. It started in Party Mode, then Slob Mode now it’s in Lazy Bitch mode. Well that is not exactly true, I have never been a fan of cleaning. I was going to save cleaning until week three when we could all possibly be so bored that we’d find cleaning interesting, but I don’t think I can wait that long. It needs to be done today.

My Italian friends have told me women here use cleaning as a way to de-stress. Their houses must be sparkling by now. It’s a pity there is a lockdown, otherwise I could do a lot for the women in my community and help ease their stress levels for at least a week by letting them rip on my house.

I live in a house with two lads – my husband and our 17-year-old son. Cleaning is not really a priority for them either. We keep on top of the laundry, dishes and son keeps his room in sparkling order, but to get the rest tidied we need a motive. Our motivation is usually when we know family is coming to stay or a friend is coming over for lunch or dinner. As soon as we know someone’s coming, we go into superdrive, and the place looks amazing within two hours.

Sometimes when I notice the housework is getting a bit out of hand, and don’t want to just do the cleaning by myself, I’ll say, ‘Oh I got a text from Lizzie, she’s going to be passing here around lunchtime and is going to drop by’. Or ‘Lizzie might drop in to borrow the strimmer tomorrow so we’ll all get up early and give the place a good clean, yeah?.’ The house gets sparkled. 

For the last two years Lizzie always cancels, probably because Lizzie doesn’t exist. I use her sparingly, only in emergencies. Neither of my menfolk have realised Lizzie has never actually been to our house. Both of them think they have met Lizzie at different times when they were out with me alone. Once with my son, I stopped in the supermarket to talk with someone I know through my business and once with my husband when I greeted  a friend of a friend on the street. Both times they asked “Was that Lizzie?” Me off guard, but casually, “Yeah”.

So one thinks Lizzie is a tall woman in her 30s with an English accent and they other thinks Lizzie is a short Italian in her 60s.

So I’m going to have to think of a different motivational strategy now in this unusual time that we are living when family can’t come to stay and friends can’t call by, not even invisible friends like Lizzie. I miss her.