Magazine article Management Today

The Sharp End: Pass Me My Marigolds

Magazine article Management Today

The Sharp End: Pass Me My Marigolds

Article excerpt

Kitted out in a protective suit, Dave Waller joins a team of extreme cleaners.

I get the call from CleanSafe at 11am on a Tuesday. The firm's blokes have turned up at a house expecting to do a routine spruce, only to discover that its late resident had fallen behind with the cleaning Thirty years behind. This is one job for which my university education may come in handy. Not so much what I studied, more the experience of living with Dirty Penny, a girl whose feet you could smell on the carpet even when she'd been out all morning. My mate bought her Fiat Uno for pounds 20 and found a flotilla of fag butts in a tar puddle in the driver's door.

That wouldn't trouble CleanSafe's founder, Steve Broughton. On the drive to the job he treats me to the highlights of his gruesome back catalogue: from mopping up a bloody double suicide attempt in an Asda toilet, to cleaning the flat of a crack-addict schoolteacher, which included a room full of sex toys and fried chicken boxes.

As boss of a company that works with the police, local councils and mental health trusts, Steve has spent more time than most 'slipping around in people's bodily fluids'. Slit wrists, bloody mattresses and maggots are par for the course. 'If people are moaning about problems at work or not being able to afford a holiday,' he says, 'send them to me for 10 minutes.'

I'm hardly enthused when we pull up in a quiet street in Carlsharlton, Surrey and enter a dilapidated semi. Yellow nicotine-stained paper peels off the walls, and there's an unholy smell rising from the bare floorboards. 'You should have been here three months ago,' says the executor of the will, a long-haired neighbour whose chain smoking suggests he'll be happy to see the last of the place.

He shares the details. Neighbours had spotted the woman's curtains left open and called the police, who entered through an upstairs window - into a room full of dog excrement. The uniformed horde then stomped down the stairs, only to find her sitting in the living room, puffing away on a fag in her armchair. A paramedic examined her. 'You're having a heart attack,' he told her. 'Are you surprised?' she replied.

She passed away four days later. Which is where it gets grisly. The executors found that every room had been stuffed so full of junk that they couldn't open the doors. …

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