AIDA AUSTIN: Personally, I don’t mind a bit of wrinkle. It shows it’s been washed

Our first Airbnb booking arrives this afternoon; my husband is strimming the back garden and I am on the phone to my sister.

She has been Whatsapping me the occasional laconic Airbnb hosting tip, by way of help. At the same time as speaking to my sister, I’m making up beds.

“I washed, dried and folded the new bedding,” I pant, “but it’s come out of the cupboards a bit wrinkly. Do I have to iron it?”

“Is it a polycotton mix?” she says.

“Hundred percent cotton,” I say.

“I think you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty there,” she says, “a non-iron polycotton mix, 50/50, would have done the job.”

“That doesn’t help me now,” I say.

“How wrinkly?” she says.

“Just a bit,” I say “but it smells lovely. Personally, I don’t mind a bit of wrinkle. It shows it’s been washed.” 

“Just so you know, that logic isn’t universal,” she says, “a useful tip for the future is fold your bedding flat, stick it between two clean quilts and shove it under a mattress for a week.” 

“That doesn’t help me now either,” I say. 

“**** the odd wrinkle,” she says, “like I said, it’s stray hair you have to worry about.”

I make up the beds. It must be the new Airbnb perspective; up until now, wrinkles have never appeared anything less than sweet, or homely. And normal, like a teapot. Now they just look criminal. I take my worries about wrinkles into the bathroom, where I can’t see them.

I follow my sister’s advice and clean all bathroom fixtures and fittings with a toothbrush.

“Don’t forget to clean and bleach the shower trap,” my sister has advised, “I mean, nothing worse than a shower trap with hair caught in it. And your hair’s like mine, long and dark.”

“With Airbnb,” I think, easing out the trap, “it seems to all comes down to hair.” 

“Or maybe it all comes down to scouring cookers,” I think, down in the kitchen with my head in the oven and “nothing more grim than someone else’s goose-fat” ringing in my ears.

Apart from finding a long, dark hair on the grill pan, I think, which frankly looks ruinous.

I take my worries about hair on grill pans into the sitting room, where I can’t see them to find myself confronted with hair on sofa, which I can.

“A hair on the sofa arm rest,” I consider in the sitting room, “looks less ruinous than one on the grill-pan but slightly more ruinous than one on the wood burning stove.” 

“Or in the stove,” I think, cleaning out the fire box.

I am mopping the tiles in the hallway when strimming the back lawn begins to feel like the long straw and hunting hair with a Henry hoover, in reading specs, begins to feel like the short.

My husband enters the house, covered in grass. 

“It’s everywhere,” I pant, “once you start looking for it.” 

“What is?” he says.

“My hair,” I say, “I’m surprised I’m not bald.”

“Good job I am,” he says, starting up the stairs. 

“Where are you off to?” I say. 

“To get my shoes,” he says. 

“Where are you off to now?” I say as he disappears through the front door.

“Printers,” he says, “to laminate the house instructions.”

As straws go, I think, hoovering up grass from the floor tiles, stairs and bedroom, laminating printing instructions is the very longest.

Half an hour passes. I sing, “it all comes down to hair,” as I hoover. It helps pass the time. Plus keeps me focused.

I am about to do the last once-over hoover. I am hot. I smell of bleach and I’m considering my sister’s tip, “not being funny but on the day they come, before I do my final hoover, I sometimes hoover my head with my little hand held cordless vacuum.”

My husband returns with laminated instructions as I am detaching the pedal floor-tool from the end of the hoover hose.

“Airbnb’s a great little income stream,” he says, “for minimal effort really.” 

I think that’s what he said. I can’t hear him properly: I’m hoovering my head with my Henry hose.


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