(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2015 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
She was shorter than I was and skinnier, also younger and I hated already. “You’re Maureen’s friend?” I clarified.
“Yeah, I do a bit in the office for her.”
“I do her books an’ keep the place tidy, she’s so busy. She says she owes it all to you.”
“I don’t think so, you can’t keep a good’un down for long, so I suspect she’d have managed eventually.”
“She doesn’t seem to think so, says you’re an angel.” I felt myself getting warm in the face. “She also told me if I let you down she'd murder me.” Perhaps that was the bit that was missing from my other helpers’ contracts?
“That’s assuming you get the job.”
Now it was her turn to blush. “Um natch.” The blush made her look younger, I estimated she couldn’t be more than twenty five possibly younger. Now, was she transgender—the problem is, you can’t ask directly especially at interview.
“So how d’you know Maureen?” Indirect is better...
“She knows my mum an’ said she needed someone to clean her office.”
“And you get on well with her?”
“She’s like a big cuddly teddybear.”
“Have you done any work with children?”
“Not officially, but I do babysit me sister’s two.”
“Okay, let’s go and have a chat,” I led her to my study calling Simon to come with me as we went.
“What d’ya want, babes?”
“Shut the door, darling. This is Amanda who we’re going to interview for the job of housekeeper. My husband, Simon.”
“Hi,” he said to Amanda, “look, babes you’re better at this than I am and I was going to run Danielle over to Cindy’s. You do it and I’m sure I’ll agree entirely with you.” He dashed back out before I could make him sit down.
She smiled at me, she was certainly quite a pretty young woman and I wasn’t sure if that was a good idea, then it occurred to me we only had two men in the household anyway and enough women to form a lynch party if there was any untoward activity.
There was no one else I could ask to help me interview her, except Trish and she’d be more into asking about Schrodinger’s bloody cat, or very personal things.
“We have quite a big family living here, there’s Si my husband, my father Tom, my four grown up daughters, Julie, Sammi, Phoebe and Jacquie, Danielle who’s a teenager and also a very good football player, then Trish, Livvie and Meems who are nine and ten and Cate who’s five and Lizzie who’s coming up two. My sister in law also lives here and she has two youngsters as well.”
“That was the lady I saw leaving?”
“Yes, you did didn’t you.” She seemed quite a bright cookie. “We also have David who’s our chef.”
I saw her eyes widen.
“Don’t worry, it’s not like upstairs downstairs, we’re a modern family...”
“Two point four kids,” she muttered.
“Addition was always poor much better at multiplying,” I said jokingly—if only.
She smiled and her eyes, which were blue, sparkled. “I like your sense of humour.”
“It’s always good to laugh at the bosses jokes,” I suggested.
“Yeah, s’pose so.”
“Some of Simon’s are a bit schoolboy, but he’s a nice bloke and loves the children.”
“I just didn’t think people had such large families these days.”
“Normally they don’t but it’s just the way it happened, we sort of accumulated as we went along.”
“I’m just thinking of the workload.”
“You won’t be idle, that’s for sure, at the same time I pay ten pounds an hour and the job is nominally thirty five hours but we may need you for more. I only pay ten pounds per hour, I’m afraid but that’s well above what the government is saying will be the living wage and accommodation could be available.”
“I’m going to have to find somewhere, so that would be a big incentive, what’s the rent?”
“There is no rent as it’s considered a live in job but the cottage is across the way. I do however expect you to pay your own heating and lighting and there are water rates and council tax as well. But we consider the rent is worth over a hundred pounds a week.”
“What are the duties?”
“Essentially keeping the place clean and tidy and babysitting the younger ones if none of the adults are available. Obviously, David does the majority of the cooking and I usually do it if he’s not here but my job keeps me pretty busy.”
“What d’you do?”
“I’m professor of Biological Sciences at the university, Daddy is the dean. Simon’s in banking and Stella, my sister in law, is a nurse specialist.”
“Is this the family?” she pointed to an eight by ten photo on an occasional table.
“Is this one a hairdresser?”
“She and the one to her right, Phoebe, they have a salon together.”
“She cuts my hair.”
“Yeah, she and the other one—are both good.”
“Yes they are, they cut my hair and the girls.”
“Can I see the house?”
“Of course, but I have to say that were I to offer you the job it would be on a temporary basis until a CRB check was done, because you’re working with my children. It usually takes a month or two.”
I showed her round the house. “Crikey, it’s huge and one person looked after this?”
“I did for quite some time. The upstairs tend to look after itself, the girls change their own beds most of the time. Downstairs is mainly vacuuming and dusting, keeping an eye on the littlies and the laundry. I showed her the kitchen and utility room with its industrial size washing machine and tumble drier.
“Thirty five hours?” she asked.
“That frequently ran to forty per week with babysitting.”
“Where are all the children?”
“Would you like to meet them?” Is this a good idea until she’s accepted a contract? “Sammi is upstairs working on her computer—she’s an IT manager at the bank, she’s always busy. This is Trish, Livvie and Meems. Say hello to Amanda.”
“Hello,” they all shouted, they were hot and sweaty playing tennis on the Wii.
“Amanda has come to see if she’d like to be the new housekeeper.”
Trish having just been beaten by Livvie walked over to us, “Should Schrodinger feed his cat once or twice a day?”
I felt myself get hot, she does this all the time.
“That would depend.”
“Whether it’s alive or dead?”
“You know about Quantum?” gasped Trish in delight.
“Not really but a previous boyfriend had a tee shirt with a picture of a cat on it and if you looked at it one way it read alive and another way it said dead. I assume it’s the same cat.”
“Absolutely, what d’ya think of Pauli’s...”
“Enough, Trish.” I whipped Amanda out of the room before Trish completely bewildered her. “Don’t worry, they’re not all like Trish, though Livvie is quite bright too.”
“How about a cup of tea?”
“Is that so you can tell me I didn’t get the job?”
“No, it was to celebrate that you did.”
“When do I start?”
“When could you?”
“Is that for ironing?” she pointed at the growing mound of linen.
“I’m afraid it is.”
“Want me to do it?”
“Ten pounds an hour?”
“Done,” she said and we shook hands.
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