Cleaner with a doctorate

The Cévennes are full of a rich variety of people who have sought refuge from the world’s  more routine life styles. Dorothy is one.

I first met Dorothy at one of the pizza nights at la Corconne, the campsite where we spent 14 summers. It has always been a gathering place for ‘soixante-cinq huitards’ (historically Escapees from cities like Paris following the 1968 movements) and their successors. Dorothy was there with a young French jazz guitarist.

A year or two ago I employed Dorothy to do a massive spring clean of our former house, now the gîte. What stood her apart as an exceptional cleaner was that she was the only one to painstakingly take down and dust every book.

So Dorothy was an obvious choice when I needed this house cleaning up after the messy bathroom changes while I was in hospital. I came back to a wonderfully spotless house and since the weekend she has been helping put boxes of things back in the bathroom and passage outside.  Look at this photo.  Anyone who knows me will confirm it is probably the only time in its life that the sheets and towels cupboard will have things folded so perfectly.

i had planned to pay for a taxi to take me to Ganges this week. Instead Dorothy has taken this on, adding help like shopping and walking Poppy while I was at the physio, and when she saw I was in too much pain, cooked my supper on Monday evening.

Apart from being hyper efficient and generous, Dorothy is intelligent and good company. As I learn more about her life I get constant surprises. She is a Trinidadian, one of five siblings (many of whom have ended up in the US and with whom she cannot talk about politics!). She has a doctorate in entomology and spent several years in industry, working on research into insect repellents, before deciding a life as a research chemist was not for her.

Next stop was Paris where she took an intensive French language course as well as qualifications in teaching English to foreigners. And then on to the Cévennes, with her guitarist partner, since replaced by a Belgian chef.

i get the feeling that Dorothy is at another crossroads. But her future will certainly not be in research and cities.

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