I’d quite forgotten, but two years ago I came across a list of thirty random words, and I challenged myself to write something using each of them over the next thirty days. I’ve just been having a look through, and just as I’d forgotten that I’d done this challenge, I’d completely forgotten some of the stories. Here’s one of those:


“Good morning Mr Fleming sir, oh beg pardon, is it Dr Fleming, I’m never quite sure, I used to work in the main hospital and some doctors are mister, and then some are professors, and then some like to be mister even though they are professor, they say it sounds more friendly, sir.  I used to work for a dentist and even though he is a dental surgeon and has letters after his name he was just plain mister, and if I’m not speaking out of turn, he did get a little shirty with me when I called him doctor, although I didn’t mean anything by it, only to be pleasant and polite. I’m just finishing up now, I got in early, still dark it was but I don’t mind, plenty of people about, milkman and his horse, and then there’s the other milkman who delivers round here and his horse, and the baker’s wagon. I didn’t just get in early because it’s my first day, sir, I’m a bit of an early bird and I like to get in and get things done. I’m Elsie sir and I  hope you don’t mind me saying that I asked Ethel about you, not to be rude or nosy sir, but just to know what sort of gentleman you are so I can do the best for you, and she said you are a real gentleman, Mr Fleming, but quiet, very quiet, so if there is anything I haven’t done right, or you would like me to do in a different way or a different way round, if you would just mention it, or maybe write me a little note, just so I can do the best for you. I have my methods, Mr Fleming and you being a gentleman of a scientific nature I know you must have your methods too, and if you want me to do anything in a particular way, sir, you just mention it, you only need do that once sir, I have a good memory. That dentist I mentioned, I only called him doctor once and after he was mister not doctor I never called him doctor again. Now sir, I have swept round all the floor, and I have mopped and I have done a dry polish, I didn’t use any Ronuk Polish today, I’ll save that for Saturday because I know you don’t come in till later on a Saturday. I always use Ronuk, sir, better than Mansion, comes up lovely with a bit of elbow grease. I’ve also tidied all your papers into a neat pile, looks better that way than all over the place on different tables and desks – beg pardon, sir, I know these desks should properly be called benches.  I have done all the washing up of those glass beakers and pots, and I found a lot of little glass saucers on the window sills and to be honest sir, they were filthy. I thought to myself, a gentleman like Mr Fleming won’t want a lot of nasty stuff like this, and I must say I was a little shocked that Olive who used to do you sir had left everywhere in such a state.  I know you have been away on holiday, but there’s no excuse for Olive to have left dirty dishes – she should have seen them when she did your sills sir. Anyway sir, I wiped them round with a bit of old newspaper – best thing for glass, sir, and I have washed up and cleaned them and all your glassware, given every item a good old polish, all nicely sparkling now and I have left them all neat on the side over there as I don’t yet know where you keep all your glassware. I’ll be back tomorrow early but I don’t suppose I will be seeing you as I won’t have so much to do as I did today.”

Thankfully the story of Dr Alexander Fleming’s zealous new cleaner is just a fiction.


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