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Friday, 17 July 2009

pie in the sky

He’s been and gone, the Skyman, not a chap to be defined by his absence since the extent of his personality was revealed in but a sequence of grunts and flunked eye catching. Still, he wasn’t there to be my best friend, he was thereto arm himself in a surprising amount of clothing to scale a ladder, rising 4 or 5 giddy rungs to install a, sssshh, a dish. The shame. But prior to that,

“You’ve had Sky before,” he said accusingly.
We’d ticked a box saying we hadn’t. We’d also cleared a room to allow what’s called Easy Access to the phone line. He’d told me brusquely that we needn’t have bothered, which left me facing an hour of bashed shins to anticipate in shunting it all back.
“No,” I said, hasty to declare our Sky virginity, “We haven’t, it’s just for the Ashes, nothing more.”
“You have,” he said, totally uninterested. “Look. The marks on the wall.”
“Well, maybe the woman before, but I don’t remember seeing a dish.”
“It was here,” he said, “you’ve had it before.”
Clearly his ‘you’ was not my ‘you’ so I let it go.

I asked a run of idiotic questions. The terseness of his answers suggested he’d considered murder as an option to replying. He used words like ‘scart’ and ‘input’ and 'AV2' to spoil it for me. “It’s all in the manual,” he said.
“You get to an age when you can’t face the manual,” I said.
“Better press on,” he said.

On went the steel-capped boots and the hard hat, out came the ladder. Doubtless a Certificate of Competence in ladder management, awarded following a 2 day course, lay in the glove compartment (I say "glove" but does anyone keep gloves in this compartment, or a hideous miscellany of tat: scratched sunglasses and rumpled A-Zs shy the relevant pages?)
3 people from school, teachers and, what are called I always find rather alarmingly, ‘support staff’ – I imagine them there, poised beneath open windows, ready to catch flying infants, or braced against a wall, shouldering it into submission – took such a course, in stepladder use. 2 people are always to be present, it seems, when grappling with steps: hence the need for 3 when, inevitably, one of them is off on long-term sick leave.
Amusingly, the 3 plucked for this noble task were the fatties. I pause to smile at the images of all 3 getting the Christmas decorations out of the loft, happy days, drenched in tinsel; tempers just this close from fraying; tight, short laughs; trapped fingers and panic and blame; plenty of tepid tea.

And just yesterday, the waterman came.
“Come to read the meter,” he said.
Since it had been tipping down, I winced and said, “Oh, your feet ...” Beige carpet, you see, relatively new after three years of squalor and grime.
“Gotta keep ‘em on,” he said, “health and safety.”
“The meter’s just here, under the stairs,” I said. “It’s quite safe.”
“Gotta wear these boots,” he said. “Sorry. I used to keep a pair of protectors, in the van, for nice people such as yourself, but I got reported. Not allowed to wear ‘em.”
“Can I read it?” I asked.
“You can,” he said in terms of well, I’ve heard some crazy things. “It’ll have to go down as a customer reading though. One of these days, you’ll have to let one of us do it. Mental, I know. Sorry about the mud.”
The mad mad world of meter reading.

Meanwhile, I made F10 some breakfast. There was very little milk.
“Is that it?” he asked in great outrage, he grabbed Catty by the scruff of its exhausted neck as witness to my slack housekeeping.
“It is. You’ll both have to have water, I’ll get some more later.” Both! What am I saying. This cat is stuffed.
“Is there no back up milk?”
“What would back up milk be?”
He rolled his eyes, “For when the normal milk runs out.”
“It’d go off,” I said.
“No it wouldn’t,” he said, “I’d drink it. And Catty would drink it.”
“I’ll go and buy some now,” I said, resisting the lure of the cat-led circular conversation.
“And don’t forget to get back up milk too.”
What that boy and his cat, his ambitions and expectations, needs is an office and secretaries. I feel sorry for them having to settle for me.

I bought a thing of big milk instead, and a lemon and some garlic. Not very breakfasty but I like to do my bit with regard to unnecessary purchases to help keep the shop afloat. The price they charge meant they could close by lunchtime and still make a profit on the day. Empty of purse but bursting with milk, back up or otherwise, I trotted back.

“He wanted you,” F10 said, “the man who doesn’t like his job.”
“Did he say that?” I asked eagerly.
“No. You can just tell.”
“How?” I said, loving glimpses into his thought processes.
“You just can,” he said warningly, “end of conversation.”

I took him to school, he miaowed and purred and talked about Catty who, little does either of them know, is doomed to a morning spinning round in the washing machine.
More end of an era stuff up at the gates, with the current Year 6 lining up for the last time. Brings tears to your eyes, or it did to mine; the crop of mothers there looked stolid and unresponsive, and you have to hope that nostalgia, at the very least, is playing out somewhere in the depths of their flinty hearts: I’m expecting great use of hankies at pick-up time and not just by me.

Somehow, next year, my random F10 will be in the big boy line. He gave me a wonky smile and faked a miaow at me through the bars. We’ll have to do something to quell his inner cat before year 6. That and watch a lot of cricket, if I can be bothered to read the manual.


Anonymous said...


A future Master of the Universe. As long as Catty also has a place int he Boardroom.

Anonymous said...

Hecky Thump, Milla. Fancy 'avin' Sky installed. Does that mean you're getting another telly?

You know me and tellies - we have five which get regularly watched and one in the dining room that's hidden away in a telly cupboard! Got two standard sky boxes and one sky plus box. We don't go out much.

But well done on getting Sky, you won't know what you did without it!

Enjoy, CJ xx

Milla said...

steady on, love, it's just the one still. Although, admittedly, hmmm (how can I be about to say this!!) it does look a bit small!

elizabethm said...

Love the fatties on the ladders and the Health and Safety police. You are having Sky? The world shifts on its axis!
Hope we do something in the Ashes to make it worthwhile. Utterly tippling down here so hope dry at Lords.

Maddie Grigg said...

These folks ought to see our 85-year-old neighbour, Gandalf, shinning up a ladder with a large fishing net trying to reach a stone on the roof of his lean-to. Health and bloody safety indeed!

The wife of bold said...

Your little boy sounds adorable and i think your wit has rubbed off on him - enjoy Sky....it's the future x

Exmoorjane said...

Love the idea that you would offer water on their cereal! A mother after my own heart.
Love Skyman too - the accusatory - you've had Sky before.....like, er, why the puck would it even matter??!!

Frances said...

Hello Milla,

It's great seeing regular posts from you. Forgot to comment on the just previous post after having chuckled my way through it.

And this one is also a gem, filled with sharp observation, gentle handling when required, and lots of proof of your wonderful way with language.

I'd love to compare notes with you about managing a household with lots of males around, and managing a shop with lots of females around. I don't think either slot is always a dream.

It's hard being the only one regularly remembering to take care of replacing milk, or remembering to re-order register tape, or lightbulbs, or make the daily trip to the bank, etc. None of this is remotely intellectual.

It's good that you've the option to turn your straw to golden words. Don't think it would be wise for me to try to go that route!


Dancinfairy said...

An ex boyfriend used to keep a carton of that foul UHT milk (Tesco stripey) in the cupboard as "back up milk".

It was a cunning plan though, as because I would not drink it, if I wanted 'real' milk then it was me who had to get up at the weekend with a hangover and go to the shop.

Pondside said...

I loved the 'back up milk'. Is your big milk really big? Over here big means BIG and in the US it means HUGE. It took me a while after the kids left to figure out that I didn't need to buy a three litre jug of mild - one litre would do just fine.

ChrisH said...

F10's going to go far, isn't he?!

Fennie said...

Have you tried orange juice on the cereal - it's surprisingly good. Better anyway than back-up milk, long-life, homogenised, French milk.
The one culinary thing the French can't do. Maybe it lost it's head in the revolution.

But do cats do orange juice? I'm worried now. And no tea for the Skyman - no wonder he was grumpy.
Strange and unusual absences in this blog: I'm thinking Lolly.
Oh dear - you haven't?

Jennysmith said...

What a coincidence. The welsh surveyor asked where my sky dish was the other day. I nearly said Up my Arse - awful isn't it.

Great post - wonderful words


Faith said...

Back up milk? He's lucky he doesnt live at ours - I buy one pint a week and divide it into two and freeze one half! Sad but true. Love the inner cat bit!

Preseli Mags said...

Wonderfully entertaining. I hope F10 doesn't let go of his inner cat. Congratulations on the new Dish!

Brown Dog said...

Orange juice on cereal, Fennie? (said in a Lady Bracknell voice) Are you completely MAD? My boy, too can tell when people don't like their job, too - he's already noted several teachers at school, which is a bit worrying. Hope the man in the muddy boots managed to sort everything out - I'm sure E can suss out the manual. Sounds like a man's job.

KittyB said...

Sky? Brave. Not just the dish-of-shame to contend with but as you have so rightly pointed out, cables and leads and manuals. I bought a new TV the other day when the 15 year old one started flashing green and pink, the tall chap who seems to live in my house broke the Aldi freeview box and the DVD player kept on skipping back to the beginning. The new one is magic. One plug, one aerial cable, one remote, all else within. Bliss. And cheap too.

PS - still think F10 and my H are related. Yours miaows, mine chats and squeaks to himself without realising he's doing it.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

We had Sky installed in preparation for the "digital revolution" (whatever that is). I think Sky employees all attend a Charm(less) School. We had two young men complete with piercings and tattoos who made a complete mess of the job. The lead from the Sky dish was too short so their answer was not to bother turning a corner with it but to stretch it across the corner so that it made a triangle with the walls. It was under a table so I didn't realise until they'd left. Not best pleased.

Welsh Girl said...

Oh the naievity of thinking Sky will be 'just for the Ashes' (especially if you succumbed and got Sky+). But perhaps the win at The Lords today is because you were there, watching on your new sky dish. Claim a reward and take all credit for the broken duck!

clareybabble said...

Our Skyman was so useless that we ended up getting compensated for his disastrous handy work.
My son pretends to be a cat all the time! x

Carol said...

My Mum has 'back up milk'...well, it's not milk exactly...it's that hideous dried stuff!! She doesn't drink milk so insists it tastes the same....and, as one that likes a little tea with her milk, I can inform you that it bloody well doesn't!!!

I have never met him but I have to say that I absolutely adore F10 and hope that he never changes!!

C x

Calico Kate said...

Dooo so hope that Catty isn't a real one! The washing machine???!!!
Try keeping milkk in the freezer - back up milk! I always have it in stock, panic when I don't.

Friko said...

If you ever learn how to replay programmes you have recorded off of your new-fangled dish thingy, please, do let me know. I'm sure my record thingy is bursting, but I can't find the button to release the flood.

My installer was a really sweet young man, he had beautiful, yellow, spiky hair, standing off in all directions, Something to do with leaking electricity off of the dish thingy, do you reckon?

ChrisH said...

Hello dear heart,
sorry to tell you, you are tagged. You're invited to describe yourself in seven words...

DJ Kirkby said...

Can't F10 tell when you've washed caty? N3S always knows, probably due to the lack of stink coming form 'meow cat pillow' after a wash.

Woozle1967 said...

A dish? In Glarstershire? Are you mad, woman? Can you hide it behind a dovecote or sun dial?

Sordel said...

Hmmm ... was going to run down UHT but I can see that I've left it too long to comment and the opportunity has fallen to prompter readers.

I can see that I'm going to add to the crime of unoriginal blogging that of unoriginal commenting on the blogs of the others.

CAMILLA said...

What a brilliant entertaining post Milla honey, as for the milk business, loathe the stuff, although keep it in the fridge if I remember to buy it that is, and as for Marvel, nooo way.!

Apparantly one can freeze la lait, although I never have done, ah F10, what a love he is.


Anonymous said...
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Angel Bluestocking said...

I have to tell you that Sky causes the majority of arguments in our house! Mainly between Idle Jack and his cricket/football/womens volleyball/tiddlywinks (you get the picture) loving father.

As for milk on my cereals didn't I ever tell you that my Nan ALWAYS made me have boiled hot water on my weetabix. Still, it was preferable to sterilised milk!

Debs said...

Don't mention Sky! I'm always setting reminders for programmes and finding they've been deleted and replaced by various other ghastly choices.