I have a new ironing lady. She is around four foot tall and very pretty but she refuses to do the sheets or put the clothes away. If I ever complain about the quality of her ironing she shoots me a stern look and tells me to be quiet.
My new ironing lady is Olivia who since we went to England has discovered money and is now obsessed with earning it. So at the end of a long summer holiday I have put her to work. She gets five euros a week for doing all the washing and another eight for all the ironing.
She is not doing a bad job, her work ethic is impeccable. But she does keep trying to re-negotiate her rate upwards. ‘The Countess de Money’, a friend of mine nick-named her in England. When I suggested the other day that she might like to become President of France when she grows up she asked “how much money do you get?”
Bea, not wanting to be left out, asked me what she could do to earn some money. I told her she could be in charge of making sure there are no toys lying around the garden and that all the towels are hung up by the pool and there are no clothes left on the ground there.
I watched from my sun-lounger (amazingly comfortable, why I haven’t spent more time on it is beyond me) as she rather grumpily tidied up her brother’s shoes, Rupert’s socks, the pool toys and empty cups left lying around.
“I’ve finished,” she said after half an hour. “Can I have my five euros?” I told her she had to work for a week.
“Why does it have to be a week?” she wailed, before adding. “And what do you do all day?”
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007