x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

A lost room gets rediscovered through spring cleaning

The end result of the spring clean is that the lost room is now one of the best rooms in the house

This week I fired Rosa. After she had been my home help for three years, I realised that I could no longer find any of my possessions. While I felt guilt, remorse, and anxiety, I told myself I'd been patient for long enough - she had a habit of rearranging everything from kitchen accessories to lingerie on a weekly basis. I'd played this cat and mouse game on a consenting basis (she got well paid for it, too) but the tipping point came when I went to my utility room to pull out my suitcases and give them a dust down before my Eid escape.

Firstly, the light didn't work, so I entered with a candle and then froze in fear. I was entering the twilight zone. I found bags stuffed with more bags, shoes which I thought I'd lost in even more bags, and a haphazard array of broken printers, Christmas decorations and lost "stuff" shoved in randomly. My suitcases, of course, were at the bottom of a heap - a sorry sight to behold. Clearly, while not being responsible for my accumulation of clutter, Rosa had merely tossed the excess into the heap, added what she didn't like and closed the door on it. Confronted with such a dysfunctional space, I was forced to do something.

Explaining to Rosa why editing my possessions was not in her job description proved to be the biggest challenge. Finding an electrician to sort out the light was the second hurdle. Needless to say, it wasn't just a matter of changing bulbs. I realised to my dismay that things, they are a-changing in the UAE. Formerly, it used to be a case of tipping the odd job man in your building for some extra home help. Now it's seemingly against the law. But without some proper "yellow pages" guidance, it's nearly impossible to find a company who will do such menial tasks.

Thirdly, I needed shelves to restore some sense of method to the madness of the room. Having visited Ace and Ikea, I came back armed with the sort of shopping I haven't done in years - hardware for goodness sake. I then got my hands dirty as I sifted through the mess. I admit to hoarding nice (OK, designer) shopping bags, but decided that there are only so many Harvey Nichols bags you can hold on to. My theory now is, I'm making way for Bloomingdale's iconic Big Brown Bags (Bloomies is due to open before the end of the year in Dubai Mall). But I digress.

Spring cleaning, at whatever time of the year you do it, is invariably forced upon you and when it is, it's as much a trip down memory lane as it is a time to cleanse your home. I finally found an excellent carpenter who came (all the way from Sharjah) to measure up and sort out my lost room. He came back within five days with even more wood than I had provided and came up with a stacking system. For my part, I threw out shoes which are long past their sell by date and redistributed other items which are now back in their rightful homes. I also bought a clothes rail (the theory is it's for ironing and suit-bags). I invested in colourful storage boxes from Zara Home and I gave away clothes hidden, which I haven't worn in years, that were in other suitcases. The end result is that the lost room is now one of the best rooms in the house. The irony was not lost on me, though.

It's all thanks to Rosa?