Volume 3 – Chapter 273: Anything Else?

September 30, 2013

It never rains but it pours…

The bathroom is in the final stages (in theory) of being completed.

The broken washing machine is now, thanks to Google, back to fine form without any monetary outlay.

And now the phone line has died on its arse, taking both telephonic communication and the wonders of the internet with it. Which means that I am, basically, connected to the internet at the moment using a device I have made out of some spare forks and a piece of an old saucepan. I saw them make a radio like this in similar fashion on Rough Science once, so I figure it will work as a temporary modem.

Ok, it’s not two forks and a bit of saucepan, it’s a 3 Mobile dongle. So it is more or less is the forks and saucepan thing.

It’s like being in the dark ages at the moment. Albeit a dark ages in which we can do everything we used to be able to do anyway but now can’t tell anyone about it on Facebook or Twitter.

Carole told me that the phone wasn’t working via the medium of text. In fact not even a text, a picture of the phone upon which the words “Check Tele Line” were displayed. I don’t know if any of you have ever been in a position where you’re trying to provide some sort of rudimentary tech support from the upper deck of a bus with someone who texts you the words “There’s a lot of wires. Too many wires. I don’t know what I’m doing” when you haven’t even asked them to do anything near any wires, but it’s not the easiest of things to do. Especially when you find yourself in a position of having to word your text messages back in a way that won’t mean that by the time you get off the bus you’re no longer in a relationship.

I knew I should have taken it as an omen when I went to read my Kindle on the way home and it was flatter than a bottle of coke that’s been left open since the dawn of time.


Volume 3 – Chapter 272: That’s Not My Area Of Expertise. I’m Afraid!

September 29, 2013

Everyone loves those survival shows, don’t they? Whether it’s Ray “I helped track down Raoul Moat” Mears, Bear Grylls or the one with the woman who used to do the Channel 5 news, everyone loves to sit down and watch other people make a shelter in a tree and hunt down squirrels for food. Or, in Ray Mears’ case, make a lovely meal with some grated cheese he happened to have in his rucksack while Bear Grylls has – conveniently – everything he could possibly need to survive conveniently washed up on the nearest coastline. Oh, and the other one will have some tampons to use as kindling.

So, it was with that kind of enthusiasm that I watched a bit of Discovery Channel’s latest offering, Naked and Afraid.

As you might gather from the title, it involves placing people who are naked in situations in which they are afraid. Which, for most people, would be in any of the myriad of “naked in a public place” dreams that they have, but in this instance it was on an island in the Maldives with no food and no water.

Two survival experts, one male and one female, are dropped off, naked, and have to survive using just their wits for 21 days. The hook being, of course, that the human body can survive without food for that long but if they can’t find water then they’re buggered. Will they do it, or will the camera crew just finish up filming two desiccated skeletons? I know I couldn’t wait to find out.

This is what happened on the bits I saw:-

The male survival expert, being such an expert at survival, got really bad sunburn and had to lie under a bush for four days while the female expert did everything she could to find water, food and clothing for them both (I say clothing – she found a bin bag and two odd flip-flops). And the sunburnt male was so thankful for all this that he just complained about everything she did. Saying that all the coconuts she had collected by climbing to the top of a stupidly high tree were not providing enough liquid for his drinking needs and generally belittling everything she did. But then she wasn’t the colour of a cooked lobster because she didn’t cover up or shelter her naked body at the height of the day.

Oh, and then the woman was put out of action by menstrual cramps, which meant that the chappy had to overcome his sunburn and do some stuff himself. Which he could do, he said, as long as nothing touched him.

Like, say, all the trees and bushes he was about to walk through.

Meanwhile we had a lot of footage of a naked, menstruating woman, doubled up in pain on a log. And then, in quite possibly a masterstroke of editing, some footage of her angrily beating the shit out of an eel in a really quite angry way.

I didn’t watch any more.

I assume they both made it off the island, otherwise they wouldn’t be showing the programme.

But I’m not sure how they’ll have done it…



Volume 3 – Chapter 271: If Only There Was Something To Take Our Mind Off The Bathroom

September 28, 2013

The bathroom’s not quite finished. Still. It’s coming up for the four week anniversary of it all starting. If it goes on much longer we’ll probably have to buy it a cake and put one of those banners on the front door that loudly advertises to any passing person that someone in your house is older now and that there may be presents worth stealing if they’re quick.

But apparently, there’s two more days work to do on it and then it’ll be done.

I’m not quite sure that’s true because there still seems to be an awful lot to do. But maybe they’re not measuring those particular days using standard Earth time. Maybe it’s a Mars day. Or a Saturn day or something like that. Anything that’s longer than a standard Earth day, anyway, because I really can’t see it will be finished  by the end of Tuesday.

And I don’t want to dwell on it, and worry about whether we’ll ever be able to enjoy the comforts of having a sink and a toilet that is actually fasten to the floor and doesn’t shake like a shitting dog while you’re, well, doing what the dog is doing.

So, luckily, to prevent any of that dwelling malarky, the washing machine has decided to have a bit of an episode. It’s coming up with an error which is not actually listed on the Hoover Washing Machine List Of Made Up Codes (TM) so we think that the code might actually mean “These repairs will cost you more than the actual washing machine” and then some sounds meant to represent evil laughter.

What the error code means may be a mystery, but what the washing machine does is give up whatever washing cycle it is currently in at some indeterminate point during the process. Maybe it will wash the stuff a little bit. Maybe it will completely wash it, and just get bored during a spin cycle. Maybe it will make a half-hearted attempt to drain away the water. Or rinse the clothes with all the enthusiasm of something that has stopped doing anything. Oh, and then even when you’ve managed to drain away the water so that the machine is safe to open, maybe it will refuse to release the door lock leaving you to stare forlornly at your clothes through the little porthole in the door.

Still, at least we now have a bath we could do all the washing in…



Volume 3 – Chapter 270: Don’t You Know Who I Am?

September 27, 2013

There’s always a sense of dread sweeps over you when the phone goes after half-past nine at night. After that magical telephonic watershed, a phone call goes from being a potentially pleasant chat with a friend or family member to a call riddled with doom, gloom and unassailable crises that require your full and undivided attention and very little sleep. Touch wood, there have been very few phone calls of this nature. Most of the late night calls received here have been wrong numbers at bloody stupid o’clock in the morning rather than the heart-stopping call that a family member has fallen down and can’t get up.

As Carole’s out and about though – and braving the aisles of ASDA on her way home – I have to answer the phone where ordinarily I might let posh Margot the answer machine lady earn her crust because otherwise you just end up with an answer machine full of messages that go “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, it’s me, pick up, pick up, pick up, it’s me, it’s me, it’s me”. And because it might have been Carole I was all ready to run through the comprehensive list of items she is out to get from the shop – soap, butter, some bread rolls and some new potatoes, since you asked.

But it wasn’t Carole. And it wasn’t bad news. It wasn’t good news, either. In fact, as news goes, the phone call was sadly lacking. It was, at best, indifferent with maybe a hint of anger at the end of it.

I let it ring, and ring. Not because I didn’t want to answer it but more because I couldn’t remember where I’d last put the phone, and then Margot kicked in, but I cut her off in her prime.

“Who’s that speaking?” said the voice at the end of the phone.
“Who’s that speaking?”
“Who’s speaking?”
“Yeah, who’s speaking?”
“But, um, you rang me, so wouldn’t you know who was speaking?”

Apparently, he didn’t know who was speaking because he muttered something and hung up.

And maybe it’s actually lucky that he didn’t know who was speaking because while he was muttering he didn’t sound that happy.

Volume 3 – Chapter 269: Legitimate Shoplifting

September 26, 2013

I thought, this morning, that I was going to pursued through Leeds Station. I thought that cries of “Stop thief!” and “Stop that man!” would have risen up behind me as I made good my exit. I thought I would have been followed and asked, politely, if “I could just have a look at the contents of your bag, sir.”

Because at least three people observed me, to all intents and purposes, steal something from Marks & Spencers.

Now, this isn’t like the time when the checkout lady who doesn’t tell you the total amount or give you a bag even if you say “Yes please I would really like a bag. Thank you kindly, please” didn’t ring through my sandwich when I was on the way to Halifax one evening and I enjoyed a nice egg mayonnaise or somesuch for the princely sum of nothing.

No, this was pure blatant walk-up-to-the-shelf-and-put-an-item-in-my-bag shoplifting.

And the people who watched me do it weren’t to know that I had been given permission to do it. They weren’t to know that my brazen disregard for rules and regulations was, in fact, a fully authorised snatch-and-grab. And yet no-one raised a finger, or their voice, to stop me in anyway.

I bought, a very nice cheese and onion pasty from M&S this morning and as the till lady tipped it up to scan the barcode it came to both out attentions that the packet was, in fact, open and as a consequence, the till area was covered in the sort of high quality pastry shrapnel that you would expect from an outlet such as M&S. And so, as I completed my transaction, I was told that I could just go and get another one on my way out which, in a way, was nice because the one I got as I left looked a million times more lovely than the one I’d originally picked.

I’ve never encountered that before. I’ve never come across a situation in where I, as a shopper, am given carte blanche to pocket an item from a shelf on my way out of the store. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to nip back and pick something up or where the shop assistant has gone and got the item while I waited at the till, but I’ve never been asked to help myself on the way out.

And nor have I ever been in a position where I’ve wanted to go back into a shop afterwards and shout “Sorry! Is no-one going to accuse me of stealing this pasty?!?” in a really incredulous manner.



Volume 3 – Chapter 268: Clean!

September 25, 2013

I had a bath today.

I can only imagine that the excitement I felt as I slipped beneath the crystal clear water was similar to that experienced by people in drought-ridden countries who are given a well thanks to sponsorship, telethons and the like. The first time they use the well is just magical because the don’t have to traipse countless miles with a bucket on their head. Or, in my case, have to make sure there aren’t any baked beans or something in the plughole before running my sink-bath water.

I’d like to point out that the bathroom fellows had left for the day by this point because while I feel we have shared a lot of things over the past three weeks of chatting about various holes in things that really shouldn’t have holes in them (the latest being the cavity under the bathroom windowsill – “I’m amazed the sill stayed up” – were the actual words as it turned out that aside from a couple of inches resting on the internal wall at the front the entire bathroom windowsill was more-or-less a free-floating object over the void that is the cavity twixt internal and external walls) it would have been a little weird for them to have turned up to finish off the tiling and find me in the bath scrubbing myself vigorously with a loofah.

But the bath was a glorious thing. A lovely, lovely glorious thing.

The water after I got out of the bath, on the other hand, was a different story.

It was filthy. Like proper filthy. Like someone had just bathed Pigpen from the Peanuts cartoons.

What concerns me is that I cleaned all round the bath before I got in. I rinsed away all the dust and detritus from the tiling process. I swished all the crap out of the bath. I wiped it all down.

I think.

I mean, all that muck can’t have been me. It just can’t.

I know some of it was from my feet as I crossed the filthiest floor in all of England to get into the bath. And that was despite my best efforts at preventing this by employing a rug that we bought from Ikea (one of those creamy-white ones that everyone buys but no-one really knows what to do with) a long time ago and have tried in every room of the house before deciding that we don’t really want it but before it leaves our possession it can serve one last purpose.

So I’m going to choose to believe that I didn’t wash off all the muck from the bath. That there was still some present which mingled with the bath water and turned it the colour I would expect it to go if I’d been playing a game of rugby which, since I pointed out to my PE teacher at school that I was only in the team to provide ballast in the scrum, won’t be happening anytime soon.

But, whether the muck was me or the bath I guess it doesn’t really matter because the main thing is…

… I had my first bath for three weeks!

Volume 3 – Chapter 267: Bedknobs & Bathtaps

September 24, 2013

We have a bath. It’s amazing. Three weeks after the old one was taken out and gypsies stole the taps, the new bath has been fitted. And it’s a thing of beauty. And because we’ve been waiting so long to have a bath neither of us have used the new one, partly because it was full of water yesterday while it settled and today because it has a plethora of workman’s tools adorning its bottom section.

But still, we have a bath.

And now there are tiles around the bath as well, so it just gets more and more exciting.

We don’t have a sink at the moment. That’s in the garden. I don’t know if gypsies have stolen the taps off that or not. But we do have a bath.  The plumber gives, you see, and the plumber takes away.

But last night I witnessed something amazing.

I went up to the bathroom last night and just sat on the toilet and looked at the bath. Partly because I couldn’t believe it was real and partly because it was so new and clean and lovely and I just wanted to plunge into it (although probably after it’s been thoroughly cleaned of all the various detritus that is currently coating it). I just sat there, gazing at it, and saying how much I liked it and how happy I was. I was completely on my own. There wasn’t even a cat to share this experience. Carole was asleep and Pumpkin and Peppa were asleep downstairs, where they had both seemingly forgotten that they hate each other and snuggled up reasonably close.

And then I had a fiddle. Because you would. I played with the taps. And water came out. And went into the bath. The bath that already contained water. You could hear the impact of water hitting the water in the tub.

But then, from the bedroom, came the most awake voice in the whole house. Which, bearing in mind that the voice belonged to a woman who has slept through, variously, an earthquake, me throwing up, various cat fights, me moving a chair in the bedroom (in the dark and having to move the carrier bags under it), me walking into the door and/or door frame and countless other things was going some.

It was Carole who had, I can only assume, sat up in much the same way as those scare dummies in Monsters Inc do, completely bolt upright and started to quiz me on which tap I had used and where that water was coming from before she lay back down and went back to sleep.

I didn’t dare play with the tap again.