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Thursday, 24 May 2007

The Dyson, the rubber belt, and me

How much do I hate thee?
Let me count the ways.

Today’s object of loathing is the Dyson. What a ghastly contraption it is.
A bit of show offy yellow and grey does not a good hoover make and Mr D needs telling. And why do I bother eschewing my slutty ways in favour of a bit of hearty tidying when all that I receive for my troubles is a nasty session grappling with its absurd undercarriage? Where is the justice in that? Is this really what my life has come to?

But, the floor being covered, to the point of carpet no longer easy to identify, swathed so with the detritus of plumbers and tilers and electricians and carpenters, all painful underfoot, prompted me, finally to think that I should clean it up. Bleeding feet are a bad price to pay and I feared the school nurse becoming involved.

So out comes the wretched Dyson and I lug it upstairs, barking shin with same in ungainly attempt to struggle the thing through the anti-puppy stairgate. (This is loathed object number 2: Lolly refuses to accept its symbolic presence as a barrier to her eager bounding or romps on the bed and we, that’s us and 85 tradesmen up down, up down, have to click it, finger-snapping tight, each and every time we stumble upstairs: it won an award, lots of awards if you can believe that so many are there to be handed out to stairgates, but my it’s a pain in the *rse, and I bet that men were on the judging panel.)

I plugged the beast in and pushed it around feeling fed up but virtuous, ignoring – fool! – the clatter of inappropriate debris choking it up until the inevitable screaming whining noise and stench of burnt rubber, forced me to turn it off, de-plug it and go in search of a kitchen knife to rip it apart. Yes, yet again, the black band had sheared in half.

Recently a plumber and I had fixed it in a bizarre version of Dyson sex, with me the lusty bloke and him the virginal maid. He had pulled gruntingly on the ring, I had huffed and puffed over the roller trying to shove it into the hole whether the hole wanted it or not: who *ucking cares, just take it and shut up. We both sweated and got a bit red in the face, me the redder when I twigged what a metaphor for unpleasant sexual activity it could be called. Finally, we triumphed and sat back panting for some post-coital chat, him congratulating me on my patience, me thanking him for his. All we needed was a couple of fags and for him to roll over and fall asleep.
Instead, he went upstairs – to the bathroom I hasten to add, where he more or less lives these days – and did manly things to pipes until Lolly burst in (through the portals of insufficiently-closed, award-winning stairgate) and licked him on the ear.
“Oh!” he cried, sweetly stroking her, “I thought it was you!”
Meaning me.

It went again, the belt, and my competent Swiss friend did it last Friday, using her feet: very European and a surprise to my chaste English expectations. I watched and learnt.
And then it went again this morning. So, short of a plumber (who’s moved out and who can blame him) and shy a pair of Swiss feet, I used my own and managed it. All very Little Red Hen. Until I turned the *ugger on again and there was that familiar smell of burning (so hysterical and self-important) and it seemed that my smuggery had not been rewarded with Job Well Done but the usual inept failure to follow through again. I tussled with the thing once more and burnt my fingers on the spindle, tucked high, high within the bowels of the machine. A flurry of expletives – naturally – followed and a little light but necessary kicking, just to the point where it won’t actually hurt and it now lies on the bedroom floor and I’m not sure which is the most defeated, me or it.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Old Camera, Pet Wars and a Teeny Tiny T10

Because our camera was odd and the memory card full and the uploading onto the computer irksome, and the desire to take pics of the work unfolding paramount, I took me, silly me, to Comet or Currys to buy another.
“I’d like a memory card please, for my camera,” I said, reasonably.
“Which camera is it, madam?” (really, I did get a madam.)
“A Canon fine-pix,” I said, inwardly lamenting the “x”, I do so go for a properly spelt word.
A lot of flicking around between computer screens went on. An aborted phone call led to the replacement of the handset with very little having been said.
“Are you sure about the name?”
“No, no, no! It’s a Fuji fine-pix!” D’oh!
“Aaah, would that be an SL, or a DX, or a SX or ….?”
“I don’t (bloody) know! It’s silver!”
I went away again.
I returned later. With the camera and brandished it proudly, presumptuously rummaging in my bag for cash for a speedy transaction.
The man shook his head sadly. “This is a very old camera.”
“5 years …” I said, puzzled.
“Very, very old,” he said turning it round in wonder at its potential museum status. A small crowd of blue-shirted, name-badged men gathered to peer and frown.
So I had to buy a new one. Cheaper, they said.
Our new one is well dandy, 10,000,000 pixels no less. I am hoping that someone had to count them. Nice big screen, now filling nicely with piles of mud and blurs of puppy.

Had a fantastic dog and cat moment yesterday which I am compelled to share.
There is a thing in the garden, possibly sold as a summer house, which is sited inconveniently, hard against a tree which the previous owner had forgotten might grow. It now takes our bikes and garden chairs and, temporarily and oddly, my desk. It is also where the cat is fed, whom regular readers from the Other Side will know is the spawn of Satan, only not as nice.
We have optimistically had a new slab created for it – the summer house, not the cat – in a corner, but are at a weedy middle-class loss as to how to move it so it continues to be in the wrong place.
Stonehenge comes to mind: they did it, we must be able to.
But not yet.
My Swiss friend came over with her three year old boy who was entranced by it. Open door: in. Out. In. Out. First the piles of sand and grit, now the summer house. Hours of happy fun. If this is England, it rocks. We all had to go in and stand with him, amongst the motley furniture and torn packs of cement, feeling foolish and hot and dusty.
Then they went, and I forgot to shut the door properly. Well, it’s a man’s job, shutting doors properly, and E was away at Lords. Along came the wind overnight and blew the door half off its hinges.
Next morning, alive to the open status of this hitherto forbidden paradise, in skipped Lolly (dog). Bouncing on stiff teddybear legs she was, in the parlance, well made up. Then she caught sight of the kat fud. More prancing. She sashayed over and tucked in. I chortled.
But the cat, inappropriately jauntily monikered Maisie, was lurking – unpleasantly – in the flower bed and on glancing up, saw Lolly through the grimy glaze of the cat flap. Like a Jane Austen dowager spotting her favourite niece being slighted by a cad, she stiffened and set sail across the ballroom of the grass landing her furious face scant millimetres from the glass. Lolly looked up, all perky, all Let’s Play. Maisie lifted her paw and smacked it hard against the cat flap which shuddered and flew hard into Lolly’s face the other side. Maisie sat a moment to contemplate the just deserts of the outcome and then swaggered off to insult the Ceanothus.
Later, I fed Lolly and she tucked in joyously.
Along came Maisie. She strode right up to the dog, whom she has hitherto merely hissed and spat at, and started eating the food without a by your leave. Confused, but at heart a nice sharing kinda gal, Lolly sat back dutifully and licked her lips, imagining the taste of food which only the cat was actually getting.
Unbearable to think that Princess Lolly considers herself to rank lower than the cat but thus it seems to be. I gave it a minute, out of reluctant fairness, and then chased Maisie away.

This morning I took T10 to the doctor to address his persistent cough. All was fine until I made some incidental reference to his skinniness. She weighed and measured him and fiddled with her computer and declared that he is below the 5th percentile so must eat unhealthily for the next month to see if we can fatten him up slightly.
I said that I had been like that as a child and an insulting “I find that hard to believe” silence hung in the room.
We went and bought some chocolate, and I selflessly shared with him to show my allegiance to his new diet. I returned him to school and made myself an exhaustingly large plateful of scrambled eggs on crumpets. It’s a tiring lark this Eating Up business.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Invasion of the Builders

I am surrounded by men, none of whom I would wish to spend ten minutes with in a cupboard, but against whom I nonetheless seem to have to press myself to wriggle in and out of our room (life’s necessities: bed, bath and computer – wot? no wine?).
For, yes, the building work has started in earnest and footings fit to receive an approving nod and a wink from Fred West lie just outside the back door to trap the unwary – or a daft puppy.
Note to self: do not wine take and go for a nocturnal stagger trilling, “Quickly! Quickly!” to the puppy in pursuit of satisfactory micturation.
Needless to say, when the skip lorry turned up, the heavens opened threatening a Glastonbury of mud to develop. Then the mini-digger man arrived and rather temptingly handed me the key. Quite fancied a turn on a mini-digger, but a man with a big tum beat me to it. I rather imagine he made a better fist of it than I would have done. In any case, the fence is intact and ramming into same was the one thing to make me pause. Expensive things, fences, as we know from cheque-writing experience.
Lots of the time today (theirs) seems to have been spent rasping on the phone, smoking (hence the rasping) and saying “Gerroff it Liam, you dozy prat.” And being rude about our fridge, which fails by not having an ice-making ‘facility.’
“But I hate ice,” I wailed, “it hurts my teeth, and it has to be wired up to the mains.” (‘the mains,’ like ‘foundations’ being terms to prompt conniptions).
“Use a straw,” they said.
But yet, somewhere along the line, in 6 scant hours, 2 monster skips have been filled (the product of Fred West trench debris wheeled by a tiny earnest lad, the barrow bigger than he and wobbling on the runway plank – I can’t look as he totters by).
It’s exciting, and it’s also scary. I feel for our funny little house being raped and scarred so and have to give myself stern words about It All Being Worth It In The End.
A whizz through the mocking Before photos stored on our camera also provides fine reminder of the necessity of the enterprise. Retro irony be *uggered, fond, too-late anxieties be stilled: the place needs nuking.
I, meanwhile, the Little Woman of the set-up, spent most of the time stirring boiling water into neat sugar, trying to get the spoon to move against the sludge and worrying for their cavities. Gaps in mouths tell me that this is a worry that should have been addressed long ago.
There is also a poor madman sawing in the be-sauna’d loft: he who pulled life’s short straw and is boarding the place so our Christmas decorations and suitcases have somewhere to loll in splendour. The ladder swings out all glorious and wooden, no screaming of metal to strip the ears of vital linings.
Day one, over and out, and over.