February 22nd – The Window Cleaners’ Festival

There’s a lot you see whilst window cleaning, or so the saying goes, but whereas in their popular culture other nearby cities treat window cleaners as bawdy voyeurs, in Buentoille they have a far more positive and political slant. In the City they are revered, because if it were not for the actions of two window cleaners, many believe the Revolution would not have been successful.

Today, across the City, windows will be made sparklingly clean. Whether the cleaning itself should happen today or beforehand to ensure that they sparkle from the beginning of the day is much argued over in more pedantic sections of society. Many also hang black sheets behind their windows, to give them a mirror-like quality. With any luck it will be a bright sunny day today, to accentuate the shine. For those who favour the act of cleaning over the end result, today is an opportunity to get up early and chat to the neighbours. Many show communal spirit by bringing hot cups of coffee and breakfast sandwiches out for their neighbours, squeegeeing in the cold morning air.

Around the base of the Organisational Offices in Parliament Square many onlookers will gather to either point at the window cleaners invariably employed there today, or at the statues of the two famous window cleaners, Yasinda Umer and Wassily Herman, that themselves hang on a suspended platform on the side of the tall building (there are no skyscrapers in Buentoille, but at 146 feet tall, it is large enough to require a platform). Often there is some confusion over which are real, especially as the flesh and blood cleaners will often pose stiffly when they see enough onlookers. The statues are there all year around, although they usually aren’t noticed by most passers-by, a quality that was used to great advantage by their subjects.

Towards the end of the Monarchy Umer and Herman became more politically active than they had before. They started to attend secretive meetings organised by revolutionaries, and saw that the brutalisation and degradation of the City they so dearly loved was by no means inevitable. They had both been employed for some time as cleaners of official government buildings, since before the Monarchy came about. They realised that in the course of their work they had access to secret information held in these buildings, often scrawled on blackboards, clearly visible from the window. Like all high-visibility jacket wearers they knew that the best place to hide was in plain sight; nobody had ever paid them any attention before, why would they now?

Throughout the course of their espionage, the two workers managed to alert revolutionaries to various planned raids, leaks in their security and informants. In one instance, they supplied photographs which led to the identification of no fewer than six monarchist spies, and one agent provocateur. They carried small specially adapted cameras with them that would suction to the glass, improving the clarity of the shot, cleverly disguised as cleaning equipment. They needn’t have been so crafty; they were were only noticed by the buildings occupants very occasionally, when their shadow crossed their desks, for example, and then they were roundly ignored.

In their finest moment, they came across an opened window with nobody in the room inside. They were cleaning the Organisational Offices (then called the Admiralty Building, despite the fact that Buentoille had all of three ships in its navy), which at the time were used for military planning. Inside the room they found documents which detailed the movements of almost all the monarchic security forces and troops, as well as detailed security appraisals of the Traitor King’s residences, weapon caches and other high-level targets. The photographs they took of this information ensured the success of the Revolution, when it came later that year.

The celebrations have been held on that day ever since the window cleaners went public with their contribution (this wasn’t for a few years after the end of the Monarchy, as their tactics were used successfully after on the monarchist remnant who went underground in the wake of the Revolution), but they haven’t always gone smoothly; in 1979 a monarchist mob went about smashing freshly cleaned windows, and in 1953 a new cleaning product called ‘Clenzor’ was widely used in conjunction with other window cleaning sprays, leading to the accidental melting of 38 window panes.

Window cleaners can expect to have their drinks bought for them at drinking establishments tonight, and small edible treats are often placed in buckets hanging below their platforms, then hoisted up at lunch time.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Seventh Witch

  • The Industrial Buentoillitant’s Festival of Design