If only my cleaner had more in common with Gwyneth Paltrow. (Sigh.) I realise how that sounds, but it really is the least of my problems. (For starters, I can’t even park my Hummer in the street and my £50 notes won’t fit in my wallet.)

After walking home in the drizzle (there is no Hummer, but if anybody has any suggestions about the £50s…), I found a note from my new cleaner, Sylvia, whom I’d recently discovered was pleasant but not hot. I always imagined Jennifer Lopez in Maid in Manhattan – a weapon of ass distraction. Instead Sylv, although very pleasant, is more of an A bomb. And, it turns out, no Sylvia Plath.

Sam [sic],

Could you get me some more bleach please?
And you need washing up liquid.
Don’t like this weather.


What’s particularly interesting about this note is not that she spells my name wrong, despite my attempts to print it clearly in all correspondence, but that even in its economy of only five lines we still see a mention of the weather. Are we Brits so obsessed, or rather, so upset by it that it pervades our every conversation, whether spoken or otherwise? The weather constitutes one third of the message body. I didn’t even get a mention when it was obviously my birthday, cake and balloons strewn around the flat. (Maybe that’s why.)

Okay, now I’m complaining. But that too – I suppose – is as British as talking of the weather, which brings us back to Gwyneth Paltrow, whom by doing both, last week became ‘officially’ British. It seems all is not yellow for Mrs Coldplay.

“Bring a raincoat, definitely,” she advises potential ex-pats in the US edition of Marie Claire magazine. “Or at least a little umbrella that can fit in your bag, because it always does rain.”

Even on the off chance that it’s not raining, things, according to Gwyneth, are still rather gloomy, with poor customer service and dirty streets. “My husband thinks I’m way too obsessed with cleanliness and germs. I’m just like, ‘The street is filthy, could we take off our shoes before we come into the house?’”

To be fair, Sylvia says the same. And at least one of the two has no complaints about British men. Gwyneth married Chris Martin in under a year and who knows what the future holds for Sylvia and Sam. At least he takes his shoes off.