Posted by: tabliope | October 15, 2013

Things my cleaner has told me

* Baking soda, a scrubbing brush and hard work will clean most things. I take her word for this but am pampered so haven’t actually tried it.

* Being a refugee with ‘exceptional leave to remain’ can go on for many years. If she left here to visit anywhere else she may not get back in the country and would have to go through the whole process again.

* Even when you’ve left a war-torn country where you saw your mother shot dead in front of you, you will miss your home.

* Doing the best for her children meant sending them to yet a different country where someone else looked after them.

*She used to work for the police and had a house and a car. She had to leave with two suitcases and her children. Her husband was beaten so badly he hasn’t walked properly since. They were separated for two years while she applied to get him with her.

* ‘You have to be grateful for the life’, she tells me.


My current preoccupation is that my bureau may not fit in the room that I would like it to in my new house and that I have to sell one of my sofas. 



  1. My great-grandma fled her country the night before a pogrom with a couple of kopeks in her pocket and most of her children (one was apprenticed out and her husband was in the army). I think she would have been glad to know that the worst of my problems is finding a nail polish to match a particular ring.

  2. I’m sure she’d be thrilled for you but sad that people still have to leave their homes. I remember when the camps at Srebrenica were shown on the news and my father said he never thought he’d see the same in his life time.
    We are very lucky.

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