I am extremely untidy - not quite the most untidy person I know (that accolade belongs to a friend whose wife cleared out his study to discover a decomposed bird beneath a pile of paper) but getting there. I have even won prizes for it. I can still recall the glow of pride at school when we returned from assembly to find the inside of our desks marked with chalk stars. No stars meant that the desk was exemplarily tidy. One star was "terrible", two "beyond description". Then the teacher said: "And stand up the boy with three stars." I was on my feet quicker than Cristiano Ronaldo at the Footballer of the Year dinner.
Not everyone views my untidiness as positively as I do. My wife, for one. Messiness, of course, is a classic source of friction for couples. Christine Northam, a counsellor with Relate, says that this is something she often encounters and that it represents deeper problems in the relationship: "If she is being obsessively tidy or he is being very slovenly, it usually points to some underlying problem to do with anger or trying to have power over the other person. It can stem from unhappiness."