Recent joys.

This may not be a long posting and has every chance of being started on one machine and finished on another because the other half has destroyed the gizmo docking ports on this one.

I was much happier when computers recorded things on to tape recorders.  You knew where you were when you were sitting there trying to wrest the end of several miles of thin brown tape out of the end of the little plastic doodah because the lid had broken a bit and the cassette didn’t slide out cleanly.  You were stuffed was where you were.

I was born just after make do and mend, the cheerful doctrine that got us through the war.  If I needed anything my grandmother knitted it.  If you were thirsty someone gave you a ginger beer plant, which looked like sand in the bottom of a jam jar, you added tap water and, later, drank the result then added more water.  If you were hungry you got flour, fat and sugar and baked something.  If you felt in need of entertainment you read a book or played charades.  If something in the house broke, my mother, being married to a builder, waited until a slack period when there was either snow or no work, when six men would come round and put up a shelf, slowly.

So simple.

I cannot put my finger on the exact time in the late fifties when it all went wrong; given that the sixties didn’t happen until the seventies, or the eighties until the nineties, it could have been the sixties when the rot set in.  I do remember my father giving me the first bunch of Formica samples to play with.  These were small rectangles of kitchen counter top laminates with a hole in one corner, threaded on a chain.  The surfaces were shiny, at first you could have yellow, red, grey or two kinds of blue all with names on a bit of paper glued to the back.  The names, initially were informative: navy blue, red, yellow.  Then suddenly the colours proliferated, patterns broke out and the names went fancy: Roman Holiday, Fiesta, Sand Dunes.  It was round about then that I realised if you broke the corner off, there was no glue that fixed it. The future had arrived and suddenly we must all be rich because make do and mend had been jettisoned in favour of make expensive and throw away.

So my other half, attempting to make the USB port reach the scanner cable, fractured a little bit of plastic smaller than the end of your little finger nail and now nothing works.  It’s a tiny bit of plastic with grooves in it, not even electrical contacts and it has thoroughly stuffed a machine costing hundreds of pounds.

Then there is the water in the utility room.

This drought, so widely advertised here in Britain, a collection of islands surrounded by, let me check, oh yes, water, has been jolly damp, for weeks.  We are told that the underground aquifers are dry but, frankly, by the time the surface water everywhere, even just the lake round my back door, has sunk in, I have every confidence they will be fulsomely replenished.

I came down in the morning two days ago to feed the cats.  The minute we got onto the mat in the utility room we were all paddling.  So, oxymoronically assisted by cats, I flopped the mat over the fence to drain (never a happy word associating with ‘rug’ or ‘carpet’) and set to mopping up.  The lake killed the mop, which shredded, saturated the sponges, and used up what I didn’t find out was the last three squares of kitchen roll until I had.

Investigation proved the water was not coming in the new plastic back door from the waterfall issuing from the gutter, nor yet the underwater cat door but welling up through the concrete floor.  The other half eased up some original floor tile with a mallet and a chisel and said ‘The water is coming up through the floor.’ As we could see it doing it, I had to agree.  So now we had water coming up through the floor and broken floor tiles.

If we lived in the middle ages, a well in the house would be handy.  Right now, not so much.

When the waters subsided I could see a little tiny gap at the foot of the wall under the damp proof course.  I could also see that the entire slope of the path led down towards the door.  I recalled twenty years ago how we filled in the drain in the corner when we installed the rain water butt and the diverter valve.

So yesterday when there was yellow stuff coming out of the sky for a change, I emptied the water butt and, erecting the spare water butt from the back of the shed in proximity, transferred the water so I could move the old butt to get to the corner.  The other half was, helpfully, at golf and I was out of gravel, so make do and mending, I emptied the gravel from the gutters and washed it, got sand and cement (which I always have on me, obviously) made some concrete and corrected the camber of the path.

It looked dry last night but after a night of yet more torrential drought and a reservoir near the back door but not in the corner the door mat was wet.

I think what we may need is one of those doors they have on submarines, though I doubt you can get one with a cat door in it.  Meanwhile, once the rain stops (Friday on earliest estimates) I shall be outside cementing my relationship with the path, after which I have some waterproofing compound, which won’t work underwater, according to the tin.

Why is life never easy?

(Email me if you know the answer.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ – paddling.

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