I have nothing against professional carpet cleaners. Anyone who can look at a red stain on a carpet and identify it immediately as Grange Hermitage 1963, made from grapes grown on the eastern side of the hill, has my utmost respect.
Unless, of course, I happen to know the stain is actually beetroot circa 2002 from a tin that used to be on a shelf on the western side of our pantry.
But that is rare.
I freely admit that I have frequently slopped wine glasses but I cannot remember the last time I mistakenly opened, then spilt, a tin of beetroot. Though if I was THAT inebriated, I probably would not remember it. And even if I could, I certainly would not want to own up to it.
Wife: "Did you spill the beetroot on the carpet?"
Husband: "Is that beetroot? It looks like blood to me."
Wife: "Yes, well, it will be yours if you don't get rid of it."
As I said, I have nothing against professional carpet cleaners. They are people too. It is just that I have had a number of dealings with these people over the years and I have learnt not to believe any of their hype.
They always say they will make your carpets look like new?
Oh please. The only way I know of making carpets look new is to buy new carpets.
They say they will get rid of each and every mystery stain?
Ha. They will get rid of your hard-earned cash, more like it, and there's absolutely no mystery to me about how they do that.
Even if they do manage to remove the bulk of the stains, it does not work when you say, "Hey, why don't you just keep the wine, the betroth, the paint and the pet do-do and we'll call it quits?"
They still want money. They need it to buy more expensive equipment which they need in order to persuade more people they really can work magic on their carpets.
So it was against my better judgment I booked a professional carpet cleaner. But it was a life or death decision for me, and I choose not to spill any of my blood.
The cleaner's mission was to clean all our carpets, and try to get rid of three particularly nasty stains whose origins were unclear to us.
No, not for these hyped-up guys.
As usual, the publicity was remarkable. They did not actually say they could get the imprint off the Shroud of Turin but probably only because they had not thought of it.
No stain was going to be too stubborn.
They would make the carpets sparkle like new again, and not like sparkling wine either. And those three stains, including the one that looked suspiciously like beetroot, we were not to worry about them any more. They were as good as gone.
When the carpet cleaner arrived, I bet the neighbours were very impressed.
His truck was a XGTRUYTRE-2003 super-super model with double under-arm cams. It had its own water supply, electricity, radar, sauna, spa and lots of impressive pipes and leads. I was very proud to have it parked outside our house but I was disappointed he did not take time to parade up and down the street, chanting: "Bring out your shrouds, bring out your shrouds."
Instead, he strode through our house to see what had to be done and then announced, with his head shaking: "These kind of carpets don't come up very well."
Now he says!
They never tell you that when you ring up. "Nah, don't waste your money on us. Go buy new carpets."
They wait until they are there with their impressive trucks and leads and pipes and they have one hand on your money.
"I hope you don't mind me staying this but the carpet in your top room is stuffed," he said after the job was done.
The good news is that he WAS able to remove two of our nasty stains and lighten another. It does not look like red wine any more; more like a nice pale pink wine, made from a blend of white and red grapes grown on the southern side of the hill in 2001.
Only the really unkind, uncultured visitors to our house say it looks more like beetroot juice blended with weak tea the other week.
©November 3, 2003, John Martin. All Rights Reserved
If you liked this short column perhaps you'll like my new comic fiction novel, which has nearly 250 pages of laughs. Check out the first chapter here free