WHAT is every housewife's dream? Brad Pitt smeared in honey perhaps? Or maybe Dirty Den Jnr wrestling them to the lino in the kitchen while whispering sweet nothings like "leave it aaht" and "you ain't my sister an' all are ya?".

No, nothing as boring and uninspiring as that. Every housewife's dream is - drum roll, please - self-cleaning windows.

Now, I am a stay-at-home type for four days out of seven, which to my mind makes me something of a semi-professional housewife (even though I'm not married and would give anyone who actually called me a housewife a swift crack in the shins with my trusty Dyson), but I can't say I have ever dreamed of self-cleaning windows.

I occasionally day-dream about George Clooney, a bucket of soapy water and a soft sponge, but that is an entirely different story, and has little or nothing to do with buffing up my windows. According to a spokesman for the glass manufacturer Pilkington however, I am very much in the minority. It seems that while I dream about buffed Hollywood megastars buffing up my windows in the buff, women up and down the country are staring for hours at grimy panes of glass willing them to clean themselves.

And now it seems their dreams have come true. Pilkington has begun making glass with a microscopic coating which reacts with sunlight to dissolve dirt, leaving a residue that is washed away by the rain. Hurrah!

Hang on a minute though. If my windows magically cleaned themselves I wouldn't get the undiluted pleasure of seeing my window cleaner once every three weeks or so.

How I look forward to these trysts. I eagerly cross off the days in my diary, anticipating the sheer joy I feel at being called "luv" at the end of every sentence and - my knees are going all a-tremble at the mere thought - being able to make a small, perpetually moist man a cup of tea ("two sugars luv, and don't be stingy with the milk").

He really is a bit of a tease. He's not one of those gung-ho types who insists on scrubbing your windows until they gleam.

He gently tickles them instead with a damp cloth, dabbing here, smearing there, until the window is not what you would call clean, but at least he manages to ensure that the grime is equally distributed across every square inch of glass.

When he's finished caressing my windows with as little elbow-grease as is humanly possible, the little tinker always insists that he hasn't got any change. He has done half the windows on the estate, but no one, not a single day-dreaming housewife, has paid him with a pound coin.

I suppose it's a blessing really though. I would be very upset if he hurt his back carrying all those nasty, heavy coins about. I actually feel quite proud that my nice, light, crisp tenner is not unduly adding to his burden.

But the sweetest thing about my beloved window cleaner is not his light touch with the chamois or his inability to carry a coin purse, it is the cheeky excuses he uses for coming back again and again.

He can't get to the bedroom window because a slightly overgrown bush in the garden below is making his ladder wobble; he's got a dental appointment and will come back to finish the conservatory later; he is a bit hungover so can he just sit on the front step for half an hour drinking tea until it passes?

I even suspect that he occasionally doesn't clean the windows at all. He just sits next to his ladder in the garden until I come home, then takes my money and goes to the pub.

But it's not because he's a rubbish window cleaner. Heaven forbid. Some may call me a day-dreaming housewife, but I think it's because he likes my company.

Updated: 12:02 Monday, June 14, 2004