22. Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!

“How’d it go? Any tips?”

“Complete nightmare!  They even opened my desk drawers!”

Not the news I’d hoped for when quizzing Miss Honey on her Ofsted inspection.  Something along the lines of ‘a complete breeze’ would have been more reassuring.

So it was that the day before my first Ofsted, I was Dymo-taping labels for the tobacco tins in which I kept my stationery in the fear of a report saying “Yes, all the class can read but by ‘eck, you can’t lay your hands on a treasury tag for love nor money.”

Perhaps I hoped that having an organised desk drawer indicated a competent sort of cove who needed no further inspection.  Or perhaps I had by that stage completely lost my marbles.  We had been preparing for this inspection for so long that I had abandoned all sense of perspective.   Life at home had become a pressure cooker where the simplest request was met by me howling “I can’t wash up … don’t you understand that I’ve got an Ofsted inspection in two weeks.”

I am of course talking pre-history here.  For the benefit of those among you who know Bob Geldolf for his paternity rather than his philanthropy, perhaps I should explain that Dymo-tape was a kind of sticky plastic label that you could punch words onto; a pressure cooker was a sort of sealed saucepan affair that sped up the cooking of food before the gift of microwaves and a tobacco tin … oh, for goodness sake, look it up on Wikipedia would you.  I’m busy.

And of course, in those days we had notice of inspections.  Now, you barely have time to stow away George and Sidney in the shed before the inquisitors arrive.

We are currently trying to prepare our house to go on the market. The estate agent will be coming round next week with his Box Brownie. In the meantime, we have 26 years’ worth of assorted detritus to herd into something photogenic and a gillion assorted decorating jobs which we hadn’t quite got around to doing.  I know you are familiar with the state of our skirting boards.

DearHeart moved not so long ago and has texted words of wisdom.   We are to make the house look as big as possible by decluttering.  We need kerb appeal.  Everything must be clean, tidy and fresh. We need to depersonalise so that a prospective buyer could imagine themselves living here.  We are to make a good first impression.  All good sensible advice with the Phil and Kirsty seal of approval.

We’ve been at it for nearly a week already and so far have whipped the kitchen into shape.  Still got the rest of the house to do.  I can feel my sense of perspective tiptoeing out the cat flap as I add something else to the burgeoning to-do list.  I’m finding it hard to prioritise.  Should I put the DVDs in their cases or sort out the withered house plants?  Tidy the bookcases or go and buy herbs for the kitchen windowsill?  And where is a Dymo-machine when you need one?

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