This Life by Lucy Kellaway

I found this article in the Mail on Sunday magazine a few weeks ago and thought it was worth sharing. Thanks Lucy!

In March Bill Clinton was in London giving a speech at Guildhall on Globalisation and Progressive Politics. My husband was in the audience and over supper that evening he told me all about it – at some length. The only thing that stuck in my mind was his account of how, towards the end of the talk, Clinton had got all mawkish. He asked everyone in the audience to take a minute or two to think about the cleaners who had cleaned the fine hall in which they were sitting.

I do not need Bill Clinton to tell me to feel guilty about cleaners. I feel more than guilty enough about mine as it is. Indeed, when it comes to a tricky relationship between boss and subordinate there is none worse than that between the domestic cleaner and their employer – and guilt is a large part of the problem. When you invite someone to clean your house it is as if your wealth and good fortune are stacked up against their lack of either.

The relationship is further marred by embarrassment. Your cleaner knows too much about you for comfort. In the office (unless things have gone very wrong indeed) your underlings have no knowledge of the untidy state of your knicker drawer. Your cleaner knows all about these. She can also read your love letters and bank statements and is familiar with the contents of your bathroom cabinet.

Domestic cleaning is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. According to Myhome (a cleaning company formerly owned by Unilever), 2.7 million households in the UK spend

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