Over the last fortnight or so, I, we and us have broken seven things. Eight if you include the grammar.
I really deplore it. (The breakage, not the grammar.) Wanton destruction, or indeed, purposeful destruction, is not my thing. Creation is my thing. Making stuff. Art into the world. Cheerful words. All that. Vandalism I dislike. Lots. Yet I seem to be perpetrating it at every turn with him indoors joining in with gusto and seemingly effortlessly.
The latest is the clock. Of all the things I’d want broken, that isn’t it. It’s a very old, very large mantel clock presented to my great grandfather by his grateful parishioners when he stopped being the vicar at Avebury. Maybe his sermons were very long winded. Perhaps his judgement of the jams made by the Mothers’ Union was biased. His grandson, my father, certainly won the Beautiful Baby contest, which, taking the photographic evidence into consideration, was stretching it, quite a bit. Mayhap his judgement of whom to be relieved by the Parish Poor Fund was iffy, or based solely on shoe soles and if you had them, rather than the need of souls. Who knows? Whatever the reason, when he left his parishioners were grateful to the tune of one clock.
I remember this striking throughout the night during my childhood. In my guardianship of this dusty family heirloom for the last thirty years or so, it has been on ‘Silent’ because I like to sleep at night. Anyway, returning from Parent duties this time I noticed the clock had stopped. Him indoors said: that was strange because he’d started it by winding it and then pinging the pendulum like you do, you know, Jane.
Hmm. I have never knowingly pinged a pendulum in my life. Anyway, I got it off the desk and on to the table and got it started and it ran all night and showed the right time. The minute, no the second (exactly) I put it back on the desk it stopped and would not go again. Obviously it was late. As it was my father’s clock by inheritance it should have stopped, dead, never to go again when the old man died. Last August. So not only is it broke, it’s late stopping too.
I found a fabulous clock maker locally, one of a dying and rare breed, who happily chatted craftsman chat to me for half an hour before revealing the cost of scraping off the muck of ages and getting it going again.
FIVE HUNDRED QUID. TO MEND A FLIPPING CLOCK. IT ISN’T EVEN AS IF IT’S SHINY AND NEW. IT’S AN OLD CLOCK. QUITE A DIRTY ONE. IT ISN’T EVEN WORTH THAT IF YOU FLOGGED IT.
But as it’s a family heirloom I’ve got to do it. Fortunately, being properly skilled and in demand, it will take him five months to do it. And, as I’ve agreed to it, I’d better get saving now. Polish up the red lamp, have a good Miniatura, not have a second slice of fake celiac toast. Wear holey socks. All that.
Which wouldn’t be so bad if the microwave hadn’t joined in.
The only person who can open the door, on which the springs have gone, is him indoors, what has the knack.
Me and the nipper wrench at the door in despair as our rewarmed abandoned cup of tea/microwave hot water bottle/ bowl of peas/glass of hot cola is there bathed in microlight hot and ready and unremoveable. It’s very frustrating. Even to the nipper, arguably the most patient person in the UK today.
It is old. It has been useful. When I redesigned the kitchen I designed a space exactly for that microwave exactly. So now not only do we have to purchase a new one, we have to purchase a new one that fits. Exactly.
Then there was the soap dish. When I designed the bathroom decor, twenty five years ago, I thought a seaside theme would be lovely, sourced the sea shell anaglypta, now buried beneath the waves of many coats of paint, used up all the ancient conch shells knocking around, found a shark bath mitt and a whale bag that covers the upspout from the soil stack and a couple of witty kitchen ware scallop shells in china to make soap dishes.
And now there is one. I broke it in the bath. White china bits in a white bath that I was standing in without my lenses in.
The lights was very time consuming. Have you got time to hear about the lights?
When we rewired (when we had the kitchen done) the light I chose for the underlit, in-the-middle-of-the-house dining room was fairly brilliant, I thought. It was a brass arm affair with molto little omnidirectional lamps. Just the job. One shining on the phone, so I can clean the muck out of the drawer knobs with a fingernail during boring phone calls, one on the dark patch in the hall, one on the impenetrable gloom over the welsh dresser where I keep all the bits to make stuff, two on whatever I’m making and even one on the dinner on the dinner table, though it doesn’t do to illuminate my cooking too much. Some things are better kept as a mystery.
Brilliant until you came to change the lamps.
GU10s. A bright little lamp which comes with a sucker to attach to the immoveable bulbs to move them. By the sucker that bought them, that is.
If you can.
Usually I couldn’t to such a degree that I’d taken to replacing them with the five thousand hour, cost an arm and a leg jobs, so that I would die first and someone else would have to replace them.
There was just one of the ordinary ones left.
‘Oh look,’ quoth him indoors, ‘one of the lights has gone out, are you going to replace it?’
I should have said: ‘No I am looking after my mother, this is half an hour at home, I have enough aggravation.’
Or: ‘You spotted it, could you replace it?’
Or even: ‘I have been paper crafting for half an hour, I am tired, it is bedtime, there is stuff everywhere, the table is covered, I will do it in the morning.’
Almost anything but: ‘Yes. OK’
Half the trouble in my life could have been avoided if I had learned to say ‘no’, or, even, ‘no’.
In the end when he got back from the pub we took it in turns to stand on the table and break bits off with the pliers and we still couldn’t get the bulb out and there were little bits of glass everywhere. When we had finally destroyed everything and I was clearing up the table well past midnight because I was back on parent duties the following day, I cleverly found the rest of the glass by sweeping the last of the muck off the table with the side of my hand. The blood was in more places than the glass. Like some latter day Sweeny Todd, I was spreading it into the carpets with a sweep of my hand, and up on to the ceiling with a gesture of annoyance. Thank goodness the wallpaper is well patterned and largely brown.
I bought a cheap replacement fitting which will do until I find someone who can replace the porcelain bulb holder. Does such a person exist in our throw-away society? I wonder if the clock mender would like to branch into electronics?
Then there were the glass casserole dishes. I have a stack of four. Sorry, had a stack of four. I just missed the shelf five minutes, sorry, half an hour (Jane, where is the lunch? I though you said five minutes? etc etc.) before I dished up the Sunday lunch. There was glass everywhere and because of the cats’ paws I ended up cleaning all of the counters, sweeping, vacuuming and steam mopping the kitchen floor. It’s amazing how you can stare straight at bits of broken glass and not see them. Well, they’re glass you know. You look right through them. Until you touch them. People are beginning to wonder if I got into a razor fight. Of course I broke two of the most useful size dishes and not the one matching the already slightly broken lid.
Not content with breaking up the happy home, we are branching out into my mother’s house and destroying that.
It was the guest bathroom basin. It took a long time emptying. Then longer. Then eventually half an hour for the water to go down. So I innocently wondered if him indoors could bring the sink plunger next time he picked me up.
Well it would have been OK if he hadn’t used his initiative and brought the windy wire thing.
This job is a length of enclosed wire spiral in a flexible metal tube. At one end a red handle. At tother, a ’ook. In theory you shove it down the drain as far as it will go and twirl the red handle round and round thus clearing the blockage in the unseen depths and then retrieve it with a cautious flourish to avoid spreading the muck everywhere.
What actually happens is that first you coat the bathroom (pale beige, seeing as you asked) in a thin layer of filth by filling the sink and plunging the plunger repeatedly, not noticing that the dirty water is squirting straight out of the overflow hole all over everywhere.
Then my encumbrance produced the wire job with a flourish and shoved it down the plughole without so much as an introduction.
Well posh basins do not have hand operated plugs, like the rest of the world, do they? No they have a brass-look solid plug which rises up, remotely operated by a handle AND several yards of twisty metal wire inside the pipes.
Absolutely perfect for hooking a twisty wire hook on and dragging it down into the pipes connected to the next door bathroom bidet which the guest sink drains into, brilliantly. Utterly brilliant. Practically through the foundations and into an alternate universe, (though through the dividing wall and up into my mother’s ensuite was bad enough.)
It could have been worse.
My mother could have been using the bidet for its actual purpose, or it could have come up in the toilet.
Instead, being a Geordie, she uses the bidet to wash her feet in.
She reported on the phone that her plumber speaks very highly of me.
I bet he does. I’m a source of enduring employment.
The cleaner will love me too, no doubt, she’ll be too busy to have enforced coffee and listen to the chat.
In the course of describing the ongoing destruction, I will draw a veil over the second car door to have stopped opening. Shortly we will have to take a tin opener out of doors and get in through the roof.
I do not wish the broken key fob, dinner plate, tea plate or two mugs to be taken into consideration.
Normally when I’ve broken two things on the trot I’d break a matchstick for the third and stop, happy in the knowledge that the balance of the universe was restored and that the breaking phase had been broken.
This time to restore equilibrium, you’d need to take the giant cigarette lighter used for the Olympic torch and hurl it down Niagara Falls, and then lean on the ‘flush’ button at least.
Meanwhile in this neck of the woods the wholesale destruction continues unabated and all I can do is sit in a chair and eat sugar and sneeze because I’ve caught the cold of which him indoors has been complaining for a week, which turns out to be real and not imaginary at all.
Whooshoo! Ash! Schnish!
Where will it all end? (If I come and visit you, move the vases first.)