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The light is improving – and it turns out my house is full of dirt | Emma Beddington

The Guardian - Tue Feb 23 07:00

The quality of the light has shifted here: it’s stronger, lasts longer and feels brighter. When I walk the dog at 5.30pm, I can again locate rogue turds without fumbling for my phone torch. There’s an irrepressible feeling of optimistic possibility as the natural world starts to unfurl and the sun makes occasional teaser appearances.

The downside, however, is how awful that mercilessly strong light makes everything look. I first saw it as it struck my laptop this week, with a gasp of shameful horror; it looked as if I had handed it to a gang of sticky toddlers and exhorted them to do their worst, the screen a gross map of smears and thumbprints; the keyboard grimy with God knows what lunch detritus. Next, the sun hit the kitchen windows, revealing an even nastier tableau: who has been putting their face on it and why? How did a full handprint appear so high up? What on earth is all that stuff?

The nearly spring light is illuminating our dark, sordid crevices, the things we didn’t notice or couldn’t be bothered to deal with, struck by lockdown lassitude. There’s enough dust here, it turns out, to make a lifesize effigy of Quentin Crisp. This, unfortunately, is why spring cleaning exists, so I am gloomily taking up the Marigolds. Window cleaning has not got more satisfying since I last did it, I note. However much you rub, and whatever with (yes, even newspaper), one smeary corner remains, defiantly catching your eye.

Bathed in sunshine, the bathroom reveals a plague of tiny fruit flies so stupid and dozy you can catch them mid-air. But hang on. Who is that angry-looking old woman in the toothpaste-spattered mirror and what is she doing in my house? The harsh quality of this light, unlike the warm ivory filter of winter, is as bad on skin as it is on glass, illuminating my grey skin, new wrinkles and dark shadows, betraying a year’s worth of crisps, cheap chocolate and worry. Can you spring clean a face?