How many visitors have you had this year? Not online, but in real life. Through your front door, over your threshold, and into your living space. Because I haven't had any. Not a single one. The only person who's walked through my front door since January is me. And I suspect that's not normal.
Actually that's not quite true. My landlord sent somebody round a couple of weeks ago to give my boiler its annual service, but I wasn't in at the time so that doesn't count. Other than him, nobody. I haven't had anyone in for a chat, or any mates round for a drink, or any friends over to watch telly, or even any neighbours at the door trying to borrow a cup of sugar. My flat has gone unvisited, unexplored and unscrutinised since the start of the year. I'm living in a social ghetto of my own creation, and it shows.
One of the things you do when you're expecting visitors is to tidy up a bit. Run the hoover down the hallway, declutter that tabletop, and make sure the bathroom is fresh and sparkling. It's important to make a good impression, otherwise visitors are going to be distracted and possibly disturbed by that layer of dust on the coffee table, that pile of washing up in the sink and that interesting stain on the carpet. Unforunately the converse of this is also true. When you're not expecting visitors you don't tidy up quite so often. There's no urgent need to tidy away that paperwork, or pick that towel off the floor, or give the skirting board a good rubdown. We should all be doing this sort of housework anyway, obviously, but having visitors gives the whole thing a far greater urgency.
So, by not having any visitors all year, I've tidied up less often. And that's OK. I can live with the odd smear on the bathroom mirror, and piles of magazines on the sofa, and used mugs left out on the draining board, and a carpet with randomly-scattered speckles. I don't want you to get the wrong idea here. If you came here visiting you'd not recoil in horror at my unhygienic living conditions. You might wonder why I hadn't made a bit more of an effort, especially if you're the type who has to have everything spick and span and 'just so' at home. But I don't care what you think, because you're not coming round, are you?
However, I need to be careful not to descend into a vicious circle of decline. If I stop tidying up, my flat will get messier and messier. If my flat gets too messy, I'll be too ashamed to invite any visitors round. And if I don't have any visitors round, I'll have no incentive to tidy up. Before I know it I'll be living in a flat full of piled-up boxes, rotting binbags and rampant vermin, just like Mr Trebus. Which would be bad.
So I've decided that I really ought to tidy up my flat, just a little, just in case anybody ever does come visiting. It must still be a vague possibility, surely. So this evening I'm planning a mini cleaning blitz of dusting, disinfecting and decluttering, on the off chance that this might make a slight difference. There's still some of this year left, and maybe a few gleaming surfaces will help me break my duck.