Written by Julie Mayhew


Bang tidy

If the festive period has left you with a newfound resolve for order but you’re unsure where to start, have no fear. Julie Mayhew has put together a 20-strong list of tips for tidiness to benefit the soul as well as the kitchen floor.



Illustration by Jemima Williams

1) Deal with each bit of mess the moment you see it – that child’s hand print on the wall, that overspilling cupboard shelf. Don’t save up all the little things so they become one huge, terrifying monster of a cleaning task.

2) Read Goop. All the lifestyle stuff. Pretend that you don’t read Goop. But read Goop.

3) Make a new rule. The day can’t start until the beds are made and the breakfast things are washed up or put in the dishwasher. No cheating.

4) Look at a magazine fashion shoot featuring Tulisa Contostavlos. Don’t notice her dress or her impressive lips. Remark on how dirty the carpet is in the background. When your husband says, ‘you’re weird’, think to yourself, ‘am I?’.

5) Keep old toothbrushes under the sink for attacking the limescale around the taps and the black sludge in the overflow.

6) Mulling over a difficult problem? Clean something. Look! You made that thing all lovely and sparkly! You’re not a complete failure!

7) Invest in a squeegee. Wipe down the tiles and screen after every shower so they never get crusty.

8) Feel very uncomfortable when visiting people with pristine homes. Remain constantly on edge, terrified that your children will slorm chocolate fingers over something white that won’t take kindly to a damp cloth.

9) On the journey home, wonder briefly why you keep your own home so perfect. Is this your own unique brand of self-harm?

10) Completely empty one of your kitchen surfaces. Now stand back. Feels good, doesn’t it? Clear surfaces = clear mind.

11) Remember how when you were a child and everything felt out of control you could always close your door and tidy your room? You could even move the furniture around if you wanted to, make something completely new. Because you were Queen of that domain. You ruled.

12) Don’t read Living Etc, Your Home or Good Housekeeping. No. Read World Of Interiors: that way you can rename your obsessive tidiness as high art.

13) Wait, is that cobweb? Fetch a feather duster.

14) Imagine your house is your shop front. Your life and your brain could be horribly messy, but if you welcome people into a tidy home THEY WILL NEVER KNOW.

15) Consider it aerobic. 136 calories an hour, apparently.

16) Occasionally, stop to think how many screenplays you could have written or new languages you could have learnt with all that time you wasted making beds.

Imagine your house is your shop front. Your life and your brain could be horribly messy, but if you welcome people into a tidy home THEY WILL NEVER KNOW.

17) Arrange your knick-knacks in a way that says,’ like me, I’m interesting.’

18) Dream of the day when your eyesight completely fails you. Then you won’t even be able to see the dust.

19) Imagine your future. You have 14 cats, your clothes are covered in their hair, your carpets are crusted with their old vomit, but your heart is so full of love for the purring, fluffy way they climb up your curtains that you don’t even notice.

20) Stop typing this because you really must wipe the coffee drips off your desk.

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Written by Julie Mayhew

Julie Mayhew writes radio dramas about love and novels devoid of romance, most recently Nazi alt-history The Big Lie.