Julies Blog

How clean is your city?

by Julie Finch-Scally

It is a while since I had the opportunity to see a foreign city.   The previous time I went to Europe and wrote a blog about the dust in the Louvre Museum.  Then I could not believe the dust I saw on the edges of marble stairs that led to where the Mona Lisa was hanging.

This time my journey took me to Singapore: a completely different city to Paris, and definitely more modern.  Much building has taken place since my last visit there but that was mainly in the city centre, not on the far outskirts of town.

The reason behind this discussion about Singapore is because I was very impressed by the cleanliness of the city.  Shopping Malls and parks, Museums and walk ways were all clean.  Even in the outer suburbs amongst old buildings, everywhere was clean.

By clean I mean no rubbish anywhere.  Along an arcade which was being used to display products and clothing from shops I was walking past, the footpath and gutters were void of any scraps or paper.  Yes the buildings looked old and tired, and possibly could have used a coat of paint but the streets were clean. Even rubbish bins weren’t overflowing. 

I am aware that Singapore many years ago introduced draconian methods to make people keep their city clean.  Children brought up in this atmosphere adopt the state of play and happily continue to abide by these rules. 

I think back to my own street here in Canberra and the number of times I see an empty pizza box or hamburger bag sitting in the gutter or on the side of the road.  I despair of citizens who don’t care enough about where they live to keep the area in respectable condition. I also wonder what their homes are like.  If they think it is OK to drop their rubbish in the street, do they drop their unwanted food and objects on the floor in their own property hoping someone else will get rid of it?

Training children not to drop rubbish has larger impacts than just keeping a city clean.  It teaches a child that you always pickup after yourself.  It also gives them pride in their surroundings.  Watching many of the tourists meander through shopping centres looking unkempt and slovenly, made the Singaporeans stand out.  They always looked smart and tidy.  They had pride in themselves and their city.

I wonder if all parents should adopt, as part of their child rearing, the procedure of teaching their offspring to be more aware of others and how their behaviour has an impact on people around them. Allowing children to drop things and leaving it for someone else to pick up and throw away sends the wrong message.  Especially when we all have to share this planet. 

Maybe Singapore’s methods of fining or imprisoning serial litter offenders have its benefits.  If it makes people pickup after themselves and helps keep all cities looking clean then it has to be an option worth considering.   


The tricks of hotel housekeeping

by Julie Finch-Scally

I have just returned from a trip overseas where I was fortunate enough to be accommodated in a luxury hotel. One afternoon I returned to my room just as it was being cleaned and the bed linen changed. I watched with fascination as the housekeeper swiftly stripped and replaced the linen.

As the bed used the doona for the top sheet the doona cover had to be removed. The removal was swift and carried out in three moves. If there were buttons to hold the end in place, they had not been used, this meant the cover could be pulled back easily. The corners of the doona near the opening were gathered together and pulled out. While still holding those corners the cover was shaken back off the doona. The lady then put her hand inside the cover and gathered the two corners from the bottom and pulled them out. The cover was free and ready for the washing bag. Pillow cases were removed the same way.

The bottom sheet was easily pulled out and thrown into the washing pile, but the replacement was much cleverer. As all the linen came folded the lady opened up each item and shook it high above the bed so each item would open up ready to lay in position.

With the bottom sheet – which wasn’t a fitted sheet – as the lady shook it open she made sure it fell over the mattress with enough sheet at the top to tuck in. Obviously many weeks of practice made this a simple process. At one of the top corners the sheet was tucked tight under the mattress. The top section left hanging was folded round and tucked in. Then the side section hanging over was tucked over the previous fold making a perfect box corner. This process was followed around the bed but at each corner the length of sheet between was automatically tucked under by the tightness applied when folding the sheet under at the corners. This saved so much time.

The pillows, once the case had been shaken so there was air between the top and bottom, were folded in half lengthwise and pushed into the pillow case right down to the base. The corners of the pillow were pushed into the corners of the case, thereby flattening out the pillow and repeated with the top corners. Another three step process. The pillows were left in place at the top of the bed.

And finally the doona cover. Having shaken out the cover so air was between the top and the bottom, the top layer of the cover was folded back so the bottom corners could be accessed. The bottom corners of the doona were held together and pushed into the bottom of the cover and each corner pushed into the corners. Grabbing a bottom corner in each hand outside the cover the whole doona was shaken up and hard forcing the cover to slide up the rest of the doona. Then the top corners were placed in position and the doona was ready for the bed.

The bottom of the doona was placed so it could be tucked under the mattress, and the top section folded back making the bed look neat and tidy.

This was all done within four to five minutes. A great example of speed combined with efficiency. I must say I was impressed.

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