"Knock, knock!" said the front door.
"OK I'll play your silly game," I said. "Who's there?"
"A little old lady," said the door.
"A little old lady who?" I asked.
"I didn't know you could yodel," said the door, smugly.
Annoyed with the door, I yanked it open, just to aggravate it, and to shut it up. Standing there in the entrance way was a little old lady, cunningly disguised as a man with a clipboard.
"Hello," he said, "my name's Tim and I couldn't help noticing just how amazingly dirty the outside of your house is."
"Dirty?" I asked, puzzled.
"Dirty," he confirmed. "Astoundingly so. But fortunately I have the perfect solution. In exchange for a brutally large sum of money and the soul of your first born child, I will clean all the dirt away."
"Show me this mythical dirt," I commanded him in regal tones.
"Observe this mould," said Tim, pointing at swathes of green stuff hanging from the guttering.
"You must have put that there before you knocked on the door," I accused him. "It wasn't there last time I looked."
"When was the last time you looked?"
"Five hundred years ago, when I bought the house. The previous owner was extremely proud of how mould free his guttering was and he took particular care to point it out to me."
Tim poked at a singularly virulent looking sheet of mould. It swayed sickeningly back and forth, and then a rather annoyed looking BBC camera team under the direction of David Attenborough poked their heads out from behind the green curtain.
"Stop that immediately," said Attenborough, rather peeved. "You're frightening the wood lice. And the spiders are none too happy either, not to mention the snails!"
"OK," I said, "I'm willing to concede that there is a bit of mould here and there. But surely the rest of the house isn't all that dirty?"
"Walk this way," said Tim, lurching in a hunchback manner towards the front garden. I lurched after him. Tim waited for me to catch him up and then pointed to the large expanse of somewhat dingy grey wood that made up the front of the house. "Shouldn't that be a clear, blinding white colour?" he asked.
"Yes, I suppose it should," I admitted.
Tim took out a small pickaxe and chopped fiercely at the grey grit. Lumps fell off and Tim picked one up. "Been building up for donkey's years, that has," he said. "Look here!" He pointed at something in the lump of grime that he was holding. "That's a fossil. I think it's an ammonite. It's beautifully formed. When did you say the house was last cleaned?"
"I think it was some time in the late Cretaceous," I said. "All right. You've convinced me. My house really does need washing. I suppose you'd better get on with it."
"Sign here," said Tim, proffering a piece of paper. "And here, and here and here. And here as well. And if you sign here, I'll do your garage and the concrete paths at no extra charge. And if I'm in a good mood I'll do the garden fence."
I signed there, there, there and there. And there as well.
"See you Saturday," said Tim. And it was agreed.
Saturday dawned warm and sunny and semi-tropical. Layers of humidity caused gushing faucets to open in my armpits. I bribed the cats with dead rodents and in return they lashed their tails backwards and forwards, fanning cool air over my greasy body. Then they got bored and ran off with their rats. Crunching sounds could be heard from beneath the sofa.
"Knock, knock!" said the door.
"Doctor!" said the door.
The door began to make noises like the BBC Radiophonic workshop.
"Shut it!" I yelled and then opened it. The door, now being open, stayed shut.
Tim was standing in the entrance way dressed from head to foot in rubber, leather and PVC. He was a fetishist's dry dream, though given the humidity and the hosepipe he was brandishing I suspected he would soon be a wet dream.
"Okay to start?" he asked.
"Go for it," I said.
He unpacked a compressor, attached things to it and turned it on. It roared into gleeful life and Tim started spraying high pressure water all over my house, my garden and himself. Enormous layers of steaming grot flew everywhere and it soon became blindingly obvious that my house had been dirtier than even Tim had realised. It also became clear to me that my windows and door were not waterproof. Niagras of filthy water streamed in; and for the next few hours, as Tim sprayed the outside of the house, I followed him around to corresponding positions inside the house armed with ever diminishing piles of increasingly soggy towels as I vainly tried to cope with the influx.
Eventually Tim reached the extractor fan in the kitchen window. An extractor fan is simply a hole in the window with fan blades that screw all the kitchen fumes out into the wide world so that your neighbours always know what you are cooking for tea. A small roof sticks out over the top of the hole to protect it from the rain. This setup was no match at all for Tim's super high pressure portable storm, and a huge torrent of water erupted through it into the kitchen. Even though it wasn't turned on, the fan decided that it didn't like the situation at all.
"BANG!" said the fan, and let all it's magic smoke out in a smelly cloud.
It is a well known truism that electronic equipment works by passing magic smoke down its wires. The plugs in the wall are a never ending supply of all the smoke necessary to keep the equipment going. When a gadget has used up all the smoke inside itself, it simply gets more from the supply in the plug. It's a completely closed system with one fatal flaw. If you ever let the smoke out, the equipment stops working immediately. My fan had lost all of its smoke because the thousands of gallons of high pressure water flowing through it had joggled two wet bits that weren't supposed to be touching into a loving embrace. The excitement was all too much to bear; the fan died in mid-orgasm and the smoke blew everywhere. The neighbours complained immediately.
"Now we can't tell what Alan is cooking for tea. Our lives are ruined!"
"Sorry," said Tim, and he began to spray the security sensor lights which started to flash on and off in a very worried fashion. I immediately turned off the power to the lights in case they too decided to let their smoke out. Everybody knows that during the hours of darkness, security lights surround the entire house with an impermeable force field. If the lights ever stop working, the force field goes down and all the burglars that have been vainly beating their swag bags against it slither in through the cat flap and steal your ornaments. I definitely didn't want that to happen!
Eventually the house was completely clean.
"Knock, knock!" said the door. It sounded grumpy.
"Who's there?" I asked.
"Tim, the man who's been cleaning the outside of the house all day long," snarled the door. "Which other bloody Tim could it possibly be?"
"My, my," I said. "You do sound pissed off at something. What's wrong?"
"I'm soaking wet," said the door petulantly. "That's what's wrong. And the water's got into my joints and they're all swollen and painful. Humph!"
"But at least you are clean," I pointed out. "I could eat my dinner off you."
"Don't you bloody dare," said the door. "Come on, open me up and get rid of the soggy bastard."
I opened the door.
"Come and have a look," said an extremely moist Tim, and so I did.
He had done a magnificent job. The house gleamed as white as as an Antarctic iceberg. It reflected the sunlight in a dazzling glare. The concrete had stopped being muddy grey and was now pale and interesting. The brick path, small but beautifully formed, had lost all the weeds that had been growing up in the gaps. The garage looked piebald where chunks of old paint had fallen off under the pressure from the water blasting. I was very pleased indeed with the final result.
"What happened to David Attenborough and the BBC film crew?" I asked.
"Oh, they went next door," said Tim. "Have you noticed how incredibly dirty the house next door is?"
"Now you come to mention it," I said, "I have."