Is there something in your house that is vile and shameful? Something you and all who dwell with you close your eyes to and ignore, but you can’t really ignore it because the more you try the more it becomes the only thing you can see? Something you pretend is brown grout, when deep down you know that as ugly and dated as your nineteen-forties bathroom is, even back then no-one used brown grout. Something that deep down you know is mould?
Just asking. You know, for a friend. I have this friend who is very very good at ignoring housework. Other people’s filth she regards as gross, but her own? Meh, whatever. She is quite ashamed of this character trait, but not generally ashamed enough to do anything about it.
Until today. Today the brown grout became too much for her to bear any longer. She fired up the Google and asked the Internet how to fix the problem without toxically fumigating herself and her family to death at the same time. The Internet assured her that vinegar and bicarb soda would do the trick.
So she sprinkled on some bicarb and sprayed on a little vinegar and nothing happened. She repeated the action, with a bit of scrubbing. Nothing happened. She started to get annoyed, annoyed enough that she would later find it hard to tell the story while pretending it happened to someone else, so she switched to the first person because obviously it’s me. Who else’s grout would I be writing about?
I don’t know what kind of candy-ass mould the Internet has in its bathroom but mine is not the kind that throws up its hands and shrieks in horror at the sight of a bit of bicarb and vinegar. My mould nestled into the cracks, fired up a joint and sneered ‘Whatever, man’. (It’s possible my mould is from the 1960s.)
‘Oh no you di’n't.’ I told my mould, and I wiggled my head like an angry black lady on Jerry Springer only I am very bad at that move and I look like I’m trying to be racially insensitive to Indian people when I do it.
I marched straight to the supermarket and bought the strongest mould killing spray I could lay my environmentally-couldn’t-give-a-shit hands on, the pleasingly commanding sounding ‘Exit, Mould’ (comma possibly mine). When May Blossom went to sleep, I changed into a pair of giant post-partum trousers and an old t-shirt and I unleased hell on the bathroom. My throat burned, my eyes watered and I coughed and spluttered.
An hour later and the grout looked a bit better. Not dramatically better, but definitely slightly improved. It was quite a dispiriting result actually. After a few rounds of Agent Exit Mould, I had another go with the bicarb and vinegar, mixed into a paste. Then I sprayed around a fair amount of tea tree oil mixed with water. I rinsed the walls and I scrubbed with scourers and toothbrushes*.
It looks quite a lot better now. It doesn’t look like a new bathroom, or even a very clean old bathroom, but what more can I do? I took before and after pictures, but they don’t adequately reflect how much work I did, so I am not going to show you them. Instead I have chosen to illustrate this post with a random picture of a sunset taken by H last year. The only connection is that is how the world looks to me now I have spent two hours inhaling the combined fumes of ‘Exit, Mould’, vinegar and tea tree oil.
*So H wouldn’t feel left out of my War on Mould, I used his toothbrush. I will replace it quite soon. I promise.