My Cleaner – Maggie Gee – Quotes

I managed to move from the country to the city. I made the great journey between worlds. It kills some people, and drives some of us mad.

[…]the red-tulip-flowered trees called kabakanjagala which means ‘the King loves me’. (King Ronald still loves us, though he does not really rule us. Now we are ruled by Museveni, and he loves us so much he doesn’t want to leave us. So people whisper he might rig the elections. I think it would be better if he loved us less.)

I worked for her, nearly a decade ago. Miss Henman. Vanessa Henman. Nessie.

But English people are too lazy to be cleaners. I never met English people cleaning. Only one man I remember who was mad, and had to take medicine every morning. When he did not take his medicine, he was always laughing, so of course we knew he was really crazy, because the English do not laugh very much, and never do their own cleaning.

It is strange how Mr Blair is always smiling (he seems happier than anyone else in Britain!).

I read everything, both serious and funny. Dickens, Thackeray, Rider Haggard, PG Wodehouse, Chinua Achebe, and the endless wailing of Virginia Woolf, thin terrible books where nothing happened. But still I was happy to have read her.

Mary, in fact, has told a lie. It is perfectly true that her professor hit her. It’s true, as well, that he was sorry. But she was too young and afraid to hit back. So her autobiography has made her stronger. She looks at herself in the dressing-table mirror. I, Mary Tendo, am becoming a writer.

Vanessa is shocked by how pleased she is. They still remember her. They might even love her. There is still a world to which she belongs, although she has neglected it for half a lifetime.

Because Mary Tendo is a happy person. When there is a chance, I am always happy.

My review of My Cleaner

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska

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