Mery is the live-in helper of my Scottish friend. My Scottish friend's name is Jo which is short for Joanna. Mery's main job is to look after Jo and her family. To domestically assist them. Jo's husband is French. They both work full time. Jo and Frenchy have two wee bairns. Les enfants Charlotte and Ben. Both children are both adorable. Frenchy's name is Anthony. He doesn't know that Mery does cleaning for me. He wouldn't like it apparently.
It's a French thing.
So it's a secret that Jo, Mery and I share.
C'est la vie.
Like many domestic helpers here in Singapore Mery is from the Philippines. She lives in. Helpers don't get paid very much, especially compared to what we Westerners earn. They are very affordable. One doesn't use the term maid anymore. It is passé. The term Helper seems softer. Kinder. There are quite strict labour laws for employing these helpers. There are Rules and Regulations. As there should be. As a single man living alone I wouldn't be able to qualify for a live-in helper. Nor would I want one. Nor indeed do I need one.
My apartment is tiny.
I am happy to sub-let.
I have actually only met Mery a couple of times but she is very sweet and I like her a lot. She has my spare key and lets herself in and out to clean for me. Like many things and people in Singapore she comes and goes. Whilst I am at work. It's not every week either. I travel a lot so I don't need her when I am away. Ours is a casual arrangement. I pay her in cash and we correspond a lot by notes.
I will often leave a note asking Mery to do something specific. Like cleaning my windows. I have learnt to be exact. To be literal. I once asked if she would mind cleaning out my fridge. She threw everything in the fridge out. There was no doubt it was cleaned out. It was brilliant. Mery always leaves me a return note telling me what she has done. Even though I have asked her just to call me Peter - she always refers to me as Peter Sir and more frequently now as Sir Peter.
I feel like a Knight of the round table.
Mery is a sensational cleaner and my apartment sparkles after she has been. Try as I might I can't possibly iron my shirts the way that Mery does. The creases are perfect. My marble floors gleam. I could eat breakfast off them. My toilet is blue and all of my clothes are folded and put away. My dishes are washed. The books on my bookshelves are straightened. Everything is spic and span.
I love it. I really do.
We have had some issues though with the making of my bed. I like the combination of bottom sheet - top sheet - blanket. I sleep with the Air Conditioner on. Mery can't quite seem to get this. I am usually served up just the bottom sheet and blanket. It is no big deal and I normally just slip the extra sheet in myself.
A couple of weeks back I thought I would provide Mery with a bit more instruction. On a whim I left her a note that included a diagram. I was as delighted as I was amused when I returned home to the bottom sheet - blanket - top sheet.
That was weird.
I checked with my Scottish friend Jo. Was this a European thing I asked? Was this some strange Scottish or French phenomena? Jo told me that in their house they all slept under duvets so the blanket and sheet combination was something new to Mery.
I went out and bought a duvet myself.
I don't want to upset Mery.
I don't want to lose her.