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Friday, 21 December 2007

Going Downhill Fast

The day began like so many in the C household at ten to eight, with a man with a tum and a bag of tools and an insatiable desire for sugar, leaning on the doorbell. I was upstairs, my make-up downstairs: aaargh. He barged in, barged out. Back forward, back forward to the van: door open the while on this cold and frosty morning, heedless that he was letting slip both our precious valuable heat, and our dog.

Still pyjama’d, F9 laboured over, and roared at, his Lego, while T11 counted his Christmas cards. 35. “Mummy,” he shouted, “come and guess who each one is from.”

Downstairs, Steve had set up stall all over the kitchen. I big-stepped round him to make breakfast and lunch. And the requisite tea.
The time he was taking, the muttering, the fiddling, the frequent power trips (all those clocks to re-set) was reassurance enough to flutter hope in the Milla breast that All Might Be Well. That he might be able to fix our brand new cooker and give us the means to prepare Christmas lunch.

He finished. “No can do,” he said cheerily.
While I stood, aghast and silenced, he continued, slathering me with a load of guff about inverters and circuits. “Brought a brand new one, see,” he said, waving at a brown box, “but it’s faulty.”
“Well can you get another?” I said.
“28th.” He said.
“WHAT!” I squawked.
“Yeah, can’t be nothing before then. Busiest time of year this; mind you, we get a lot of blockers, see, people who leave it to the last moment, or who’ve not read the booklet properly, so we’re fully booked.”
I rang the shop I’d bought the oven from not a fortnight before, and garbled down the phone. They had promised me that were the man not able to fix the oven, they would provide me with a new one. Before Christmas.
“31st do you?” said the man.
“31st!!!” I bellowed, before all but sobbing, “you promised me. Before Christmas. You said you had one. It's brand new.”
”Haven’t got one in stock,” he said.
“But you promised me,” I whimpered.
“We could do you an upgrade,” he said.
All my stresses slid from my shoulders. “Ah, an upgrade would be nice.”
“Yeah, that’ll be –“ he tapped on a machine, “another £350.”
Steve let himself out leaving the brown box on the side for me to deal with, and the door open.
We haggled, I got the shop man down, he upped the upgrade and I heard myself spouting VISA numbers at him and put the phone down feeling ever so slightly cheated. I don’t want an upgrade, and I certainly don’t want to spend £150 securing one. And I most certainly, Mrs Wronged Party, don’t want to be polite and say thank you at the end of all this. But I do.

And then I went to a funeral, driving dangerously fast because I’d been blocked in by the skip lorry. Thoughts of a 2 for the price of 1 flashed before my eyes as I careered into the cemetary with scant seconds to spare.
I sobbed at the tribute.
And when I came home, my e-mails told me that the chairs – promised (ha!) for the 21st – were now due sometime after the 31st. Meanwhile, that evening, the freecyclers were about to come and take away our existing table and chairs. Which they did, leaving oil on the driveway.

While I was musing on how to do Christmas now that I had an oven (on a van travelling my way one day) but with no chairs, or for that matter, no table, since its arrival was merely “promised,” the phone rang.
It was Mr J the headmaster, informing me that T11 had been involved in what he always calls “an incident.” Again, T11 had been walloped by a boy who has to weigh 3 or 4 stone more than him.

Up I strode to school, turning in my head oven, chairs, table, funeral and launched myself, on arrival, at Mr J. Telling him that my previous responses to these “incidents” had always been measured; they had been careful not to apportion blame, nor to vilify the boy in question, to try to understand and not to over-react, but that now, 6 years in, my concern is solely for T11. In short, no more Mrs Nice Guy.
I let rip.
He countered with weak blusters of “lines in the sand” and “appropriate measures.”
I blasted back with “everyone has had enough,” “we are all awaiting the call saying that our child is in casualty,” “duty of care.” I reminded him of how this boy had broken a younger girl’s finger the week before.
He blanched at the playground mafia having spread the story – “confidential” being his favourite word.
“That was an accident,” he said.
“It’s always an accident,” I said, “and the accidents have got to stop.”
I spoke of personal responsibility.
My mother is a governor at whatever they call Borstals nowadays and the mantra drummed into these tiny (some are as young as 7) tearaways is Personal Responsibility. There are no excuses.

I think he was glad to see me go. Hell hath no fury like a woman without chairs.
I held T11’s darling head to me, feeling for the marks, wiping away his tears, my heart pounding with fury that one parent’s inability to control his child results in a weekly bashing of one or other of our “nicer” children.

E and I decided that we deserved a treat when I got in (after taking F9 to the hospital – don’t ask – and both to the dentist). So we spent the evening shunting my charity shop sofa from the garage into the house.
It’s getting on for 8’ long – and doors are not that tall.
My how E swore.
Later he apologised for the swearing and praised my patience. I felt that the day had been going on for about 4 weeks and it was glass of wine time.
And today is another day, and the table is due in an hour. About the time I am due at a wee drinks party. I had been told 10.30 – bang goes tennis, thought I – and I’m still waiting at 20 to 2. Ho hum. Onwards and upwards.


lampworkbeader said...

Oh Dear Milla. Dare I say Happy Christmas?

Pondside said...

It will all work out - even if you have to drag the Christmas spirit, kicking and screaming, into your house!! I hope the promised furnishings arrive on time - nothing like a little extra stress at Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Faith said...

Oh poor you Milla, it sounds an awful mess. Somehow you will get through.

As to the bully, I hope the school bloody well starts to take notice now. I had to go in with a written diary of what one girl had been doing to my Em for four years before they took note.

Hang on in there and hope your Christmas day is more peaceful.

Frances said...


What a glorious time of the year.

I think that Santa must surely be bringing you something wonderful, even if the delivery might just be a little bit delayed....

Nah, Santa always gets the deliveries done on time.

Really best wishes. And, would you like me to come over and scream with you at the school. When really pushed, I can be very loud.


Preseli Mags said...

You don't deserve a glass of wine after that day, Milla, more like a whole vineyard! I hope everything gets sorted out soon. As Faith says, I hope Christmas Day is more peaceful, but failing that, let it be merry!

Bill said...

As the person at other end of the sofa, swearing, I must underline Milla's extraordinary strenght, fortitude, patience, application and grit. It was, indeed, about 8 feet long, and built like a brick outhouse but without the sharp bits to provide a bit of a hand hold. She held her end girlfully, and despite taking the vile beast on a guided tour of the garden at night, it's in its rightful place and looks just dinky. However, should Milla decide that it does, in fact, belong elsewhere, then I'm afraid she's on her own.

Casdok said...

Oh dear. Hope you get to have a lovely christmas!

elizabethm said...

Milla, you are not simply patient but absolutely ****ing saintly and this is not in any way a whine. Really hope they come up trumps with the upgraded oven. I am sending you mental truckloads of additional patience (I have enough this year so far), rivers of fine wine, soapbox on which to occupy the moral high ground, boxing gloves with which to clout T's assailant (you might need to get down to reach him but you can get right back up again).
Feeling a bit guilty about how peaceful my morning was now.

The Country Craft Angel said...

OMG!! No OVEN!! Do they not realise what time of year it is??!!

Poor you. And poor T11!

What a little git! And good for you-we had exactly the same problem with school and 'incidents' Last one involved C having a rock thrown at his head and 3 stitches!! We moved house and consequently schools so it was ok in the end. But we were livid! Must be such a worry for you.

warmest wishes

Pipany said...

Bl**dy hell Milla - how the hell are you still standing?!!!! Get thee a drink or five m'dear and curse as loud as you like. You deserve it. Hope it all sorts out (and well done Bill too for being with you in adversity!) xx

Anonymous said...

It always happens at this time of year. Stress is on the up and yours certainly sounds as though it's reaching the top. Hope things calm down and the new cooker is better than you hoped.

Crystal xx

ChrisH said...

Jeezus! You certainly require better luck next year. Here's to a peaceful 2008!

Exmoorjane said...

Flip, not sure i want a new kitchen now....think ours, with the wobbly electric oven and the stinking of oil Rayburn and the cupboards falling off, will do nicely thank you.
And how VERY dare that boy hurt T11 and how very dare the headmaster not ploody DO something. No wonder you were furious. I'd have rammed his head into my non-functioning oven, I suspect. Pastard.
Big non-hug of sympathy to T....(hugs being, doubtless, cring-worthy from middle-aged women from Somerset)..... if all else, fails, come to us for Christmas! I need a foil for SZM......

KittyB said...

Heck, it all sounds a bit hairy. Next year will be better, which is no help now, but next year you'll feel doubly smug.

Grouse said...

Next year you will look back on all this and laugh.....

No really, my dear, if the stupid headmaster gets you to such a temper you take an axe to said sofa you can cook the meal on that.......

CAMILLA said...

Goodness Milla, what an absolute horrid time you have been put through of everything. Good for you for tackling the Headmaster over bully being downright horrible beasty person to your darling T11.

I can never quite understand why the establishments never do anything about bullying when a child has been a victim of this. It seems as though they just want to sweep it under the carpet, as though it has never happened. Exactly the same thing happened to my grandson.

Wishing you a stress-free better 2008 darling Milla.

Love and Best Wishes,

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh, Milla! Well I hope by now you will be fully cookered up and sitting on fine, comfortable and beautiful chairs with your safe, adoring family around you and doors firmly holding in the heat and Lolly, clocks ticking reassuringly in the background. Large glass-of-wine-time all round, methinks.

LBD xx

Anonymous said...

A bit late to the party Milla, but here I am at last; that young pup needs a good dose of his own medicine at this stage, picking at T11.

Hope the kitchen came together for you eventually; I remember our first Christmas, the oven worked but the rings were banjaxed on the old cooker we had, so we had a two ring camping gas thingy - not the worst Christmas dinner, but limited. Turkey, potatoes, beans and instant gravy!

@themill said...

Comming to this frightfully late, similar issues with non appearance of woodburning stove, washing machine, dishwasher etc for latest holiday cottage let for Christmas, so hope you managed to enjoy Christmas with or without cooker or table.
Poor boy, so glad you let rip. I sometimes think it's the only way to get them to do anything. hope he's ok now.
Happy New year, btw.

@themill said...

So bloody late I can't even spell coming.

Jaja said...

Dear Milla,
Seeing I have arrived so late, what more to say poor thing.

Hapy new year by the way. Any chance of an update???

annakarenin said...

Not a good run up to Christmas then.

Hope that little thug situation has been sorted though. It always amazes me how we pussy foot around these children in a way that quite frankly wouldn't be tolerate anywhere else in life apart from in the school environment. Why, don't all children have rights not just the bullies?

Atutupoyoyo said...

I do sympathise with your Christmas plight. However I could not help but smile at the manner in which you related the events.

bodran... said...

Aww milla that made me laugh and fume all at once,You did have a merry christmas though didnt you?