AKA - The Curse of the Carrier
“Honey, please make sure that the flat is tidy for the cleaner.” says Zsuzsa, as she leaves the flat to visit the dentist.
“But isn’t that what we pay her for?” I reply.
But it’s no use. The front door has already been closed and Zsuzsa has already deserted me with a messy-ish flat and a (nearly) nine-month old baby. I scan the scenery to decide where I should begin. Should it be with the toys scattered all over the living room floor, my ‘floordrobe’ of clothes, or the aftershock of the baby food explosion that surrounds the baby feeding chair?
“BA!” says Mila.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The truth is, that despite the ridiculous additional work that comes with cleaning for a cleaning lady, I do enjoy the fact that we employ a cleaning lady to visit once a fortnight. Even if the flat is so spotless that all she need do is sit on the sofa and watch Hungarian soaps for two hours, it would still be worth it as it makes me feel as though I’m in Downton Abbey and have my own ‘staff’. I actually used to get the same, warm, fuzzy feeling back in London when a friend would stay once a fortnight and repay our kindness of a bed for the night, by cooking us a meal. He was probably unaware of this, but in my mind at least, he was our cook and our spare room was his quarters.
Anyway, eventually, after about an hour of furious cleaning, the cleaning lady arrives and begins dusting our spotless shelves. Mila looks at me. I know that look. She feels in the way and assumes that I am feeling the same. You know what? The perceptive, fleshy little cub is right! I gaze out of the window at the Buda Hills. It’s a sunny day and I decide that we’ll make ourselves scarce with a little stroll around a nearby island (Margit Sziget). I attach our baby carrier to my person, pop Mila in, fasten it shut and we set off on an adventure.
Ten minutes later and we’re on a tram heading to Margit Sziget. I can’t help but notice that lots of ladies, and even a few men are flashing smiles in our direction. Most people might assume that the smiles are all due to the cute little lady strapped to my chest, but I know better. It’s because I’m wearing my new jumper. It’s obviously a hit.
We’re now on Margit Sziget, strolling around the island. I’m initially disappointed as the luscious green island now appears to be a building site. I scan the horizon. Diggers, builders, trucks, holes, rubble and security tape blot the landscape, as far as the eye can see. I momentarily consider turning back, but then snap out of it. After all, would Columbus have turned back if he’d arrived in America only to be greeted with JCB diggers? No way Jose!
We’re about five minutes in to our stroll through the construction site when I decide that now would be an idyllic moment to take Mila out of her carrier, sit on a bench, feed her apple juice and find a spot to stare at that isn’t full of builder’s bum cracks. I reach behind to unfasten the carrier…but…this isn’t good. I can’t reach the clip! I try again, but it’s no use. I can’t reach it. My stupid, inflexible shoulders are thwarting me!
“What is this bullsh…erbert?” I say.
Mila has no answer.
I’m standing in a building site with a baby strapped to me, and I can’t shake her off. This must be what it’s like to have a leech! I attempt to call Zsuzsa, but there’s no answer. Panic is rising. My mind is racing. What if Zsuzsa goes missing? Granted it’d be a huge blow if my beloved wife disappeared. I’d be devastated! Not least because I’d have no one to un-attach this baby from my chest. What if Mila and I are stuck together for years!? I mean, I love Mila and all of that crap, but I wouldn’t be able to go and see 18 rated films in the cinema until 2035! What if I need to wait until she grows enough that her feet touch the ground and we’re able to work on the problem as a team? But how will she go to school to learn the necessary skills to help free us? Would I need to go too? The last thing I want is to go through the education process in Hungary with my baby. No, there’s only one thing for it. I’ll have to home school her. Alternatively, do I ask one of these hairy builders to help free my baby? I doubt that they speak English. How could I mime it? They might think I’m asking for them to scratch my back! I don’t want my back scratched by a hairy builder, Hungarian or otherwise!
My phone rings. It’s Zsuzsa. Phew.
Twenty minutes later, Zsuzsa arrives. My heroine! Like some kind of modern day Joan of Arc, she unclips the fastener, myself and Mila are free, and our happy family of three stroll through the dystopian wasteland, as though this nightmare had never happened.