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The Wombles - the ultimate cleaners or a disaster waiting to happen?

The Wombles - the ultimate cleaners or a disaster waiting to happen?

The Wombles - the ultimate cleaners or a disaster waiting to happen?

When it comes to cleaners in popular culture, it seems there is nobody to top the Wombles.

After all, as the song goes, "making more use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folk leave behind" is their stock-in-trade. They don't just clean away the rubbish, they recycle it. Not many cleaners in popular culture do that - except when the Pink Panther once turned a town's trash into pop art.

All this may make it look like the Wombles just can't be beaten. Want the place tidying up? Something invented? DIY? Recycling? They are surely the ones to call, even if their customer base is probably restricted to the Wimbledon area.

However, in the spring clean episode featuring Madame Cholet, we see that the reality is just that little bit different. Having picked a few daffodils, she declares it is the "first day of spring", and thus "time for the burrow to be spring cleaned".

This whole business is going to come as a shock to Great Uncle Bulgaria. He gets his warning down the ear trumpet from Tobermory, who declares: "I've just had a look at the calendar and I thought I'd better warn you - it's spring cleaning time. You know what that means, don't you?"

"Oh yes, spring cleaning time - all that dust up the nose, oh dear," replies Great Uncle Bulgaria. 

Here we start to see the truth: the Wombles may not be quite the workaholic cleaners some may at first think. Instead, for at least some of them, spring cleaning is something to be feared, not embraced.

For Tobermory, there is much more to do as he has to help Madame Cholet. This includes finding a washing line, which he manages to acquire. Sadly, this particular one turns out to be defective, making a big mess of the washing that Madame Cholet is consequently buried under.

That sort of calamity is not unusual with the Wombles about. Indeed, when Tobermory opens a door he has another, knocking Bungo over as he tries to put up a step ladder.

Orinoco is also accident-prone. His cleaning efforts have left him entangled in a big white sheet, which he only manages to extract himself from by tearing.

All this is looking rather unimpressive. Would anyone really want to employ the Wombles to tidy up?

Indeed, when it comes to reluctance to hire the Wombles, one starts to feel a sense of sympathy and understanding with Michael Eavis, the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, who revealed he was very unhappy when one of his staff booked the Wombles to perform on the Avalon Stage in 2011.

He remarked "I've got about 25 stages and managers and bookers for each of the stages. I can't control every single one of them but I do get cross about that kind of thing."

On that occasion, the performance went ahead, although the Wombles declined to help clear up the site afterwards.

Here at Aurora Cleaning Services, we have no ambitions to play at Glastonbury, but when it comes to getting things clean, our staff are the real deal.

With us there are no routine calamities, and definitely no complaints that a spring clean will get dust up our noses.

Then again, it must be conceded that none of our staff have snouts as large as those of the Wombles.