You know you’re growing up when you’re able to afford a cleaner. It’s one of the biggest luxuries and my cleaner has been exceptionally tolerant of my behaviour. When she first arrived, a year ago, I got a note from the agency saying she didn’t speak any English. So it became a weekly challenge to try and communicate with her. Hoovering and dusting were easy to act out, no problems there. However, there were some tasks for which I really had to dust off into my A level Drama skills. Since gaining an A in my Drama exam, admittedly some years ago, I’ve always fancied myself as the undiscovered (young) Dame Judi Dench. Consequently, I would launch into full scale enactments of various cleaning tasks. It almost became a Bear Grylls-style demonstration when I tried to get her to clean the windows outside, bearing in mind I live in a 3rd floor flat. However, things really came to a head when I asked her to dust off some cobwebs which had been gathering high up on the bathroom ceiling. She looked at me blankly, leaving me no choice other than to try and act out a spider – it involved a lot of scrabbling around the floor, whilst she looked at me like a mad person. To make my point heard, I would often just shout the odd word at her, such as ‘WINDOW’, ‘HOOVER’, ‘SPIDER’ as if she was suffering from a hearing malfunction.
The following week I had a text from the agency saying that the cleaner would only be with me one more week before heading off on holiday. When cleaning day came round, I tried to ask her where she was going on her holiday (this was probably my most ambitious project as it involved trying to pretend I was on a sun lounger getting burnt whilst drinking a cocktail). She turned to me and said in perfect English ‘Yeah I’m off to Lanzarote with the girls.’ Somewhat stunned at this dialogue, I was rendered speechless, only able to give her a jolly thumbs up.
Needless to say she never returned to clean for me. She was probably too scared to come back to the crazy English woman. I’ve learnt from my mistakes; my replacement cleaner can speak English.
Recipe from Good Food.
For the shortbread:
- 250g plain flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 175g butter, softened
For the caramel:
- 100g butter or margarine
- 100g light muscavado sugar
- 2 x 397g cans condensed milk
For the topping:
- 200g plain or milk chocolate, broken into pieces
- Pre-heat the oven to 180’C/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 13 x 9inch (33x23cm) Swiss roll tin.
- To make the shortbread, mix the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Knead the mixture together until it forms a dough, then press into the base of the prepared tin. Prick the shortbread lightly with a fork and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and very lightly browned. Cool in the tin.
- To make the caramel, measure the butter, sugar and condensed milk into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour over the shortbread and leave to cool.
- For the topping, melt the chocolate slowly in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Pour over the cold caramel and leave to set. Cut into squares or bars.
Directions for use: Adding salt to the caramel makes a delicious twist.