Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Now with more eggs.

Eggs were to last weekend what drugs and violence were to Altamont - omnipresent, intrinsic and very, very destructive. To be fair, my weekend didn't involve any fatalities, but that's probably due to the absence of Hell's Angels. I also have had an egg for breakfast every morning this week and if you don't hear from me for a while I am probably in hospital. Or helplessly having a stroke on the carpet. What are you waiting for? Call an ambulance!

On Sunday, we had huge artichokes with hollandaise for dinner. That was almost a meal in itself, but then there was steak with, er hollandaise and meringues with cream and soon I will have the memory and attention span of a goldfish due to the many inevitable ministrokes. Steam engine. Werewolf. Millard Fillmore. See? It's happening already.

This is what I will be blaming for my inability to imagine anything interesting to write here.

So, what's been going on, you might ask?

There is an ongoing effort to clear the enormous shed which makes the garden look like an airfield with a hangar in the distance. Do I believe that everything that presently lives in there will fit in the tiny floor-level cupboards under the eaves in the loft? I do not. Do I think there's enough time to get the neighbours' teenagers to take up the decking so we can get and fill one of those huge garden storage box things before our shed is knocked down and/or we go on holiday? All of which has to be done in precisely that order? And the decking must not under any circumstances be touched by the lovely man, whose back was nearly broken the last time he tried to remove it, thus the summoning of the teenagers? Well, just call me Me of Little Faith.

Also, we have a handyman. He will be doing the lion's share of the shed-related things. He is a super-nice, lovely family man with good manners, very personable and always fragrant with laundry soap smells. He doesn't sleep much, and is usually up at dawn, pottering about and getting all eager to get started. Shortly after, he comes to my house.

Last time he was doing work here he and I had words - well, I had words. He is a dropper-in. He is well known for spontaneously knocking on your door at 9ish on a Saturday or Sunday morning to discuss some future project. He may have said that he will start on Wednesday, but that won't stop him from coming to drop stuff off on Monday and Tuesday. He is always early. He also likes a cup of tea and a chat.

That should separate you, dear readers, into two handy categories. Group A will be thinking, How lovely. I wish I could find a builder who doesn't stink of sweat, fags, concrete dust and last night's whiskey binge, who turns up when he says he will with his manners and polite conversation. That woman really is an Ingrate! Hmmph!

Group B will be rocking in a corner, hands on face, trembling gently, firmly headbutting the wall.

In my home, there is no unplanned early. There is no version of dropping in which is welcome or encouraged. Emergencies are different of course. By all means, if you are on fire or being chased by an angry mob, please feel free to knock. We probably wouldn't turn you away. The phone is cordless, so you won't mind calling the emergency services from the porch. Just leave it there when you're done. Good luck to you. See you on recycling day!

Why does this bother me so much? Aren't builders known for starting work early in the day? Well, yes, that is true. The thing about our handyman is that he gets earlier and earlier. I can be ready for him at the arranged hour of 8am, but at 7:50, when he rings the bell, I'll be brushing my teeth in my dressing gown. The next morning when he arrives at 7:45, I'll be naked smearing deodorant on my armpits with a toothbrush poking out of my mouth. The following morning when the door goes at 7:40 I will be peeing and apoplectic. I will be weeping tears of fury as I belt my dressing gown and descend the stairs, knowing that for the following 30 to 40 minutes - the first minutes of my waking day, minutes when I could be sleeping, drinking tea alone or staring into space - I will instead be forced to sit politely and interact with someone with whom I do not sleep or live. In other words, I will be strapping down and ball-gagging my Real Self, forcing all that early-morning lizard-brain bile down where it will bubble and fester.

In the early days, the handyman did a lot of work in our house. At times it has felt like he lived here. This was during my hibernation period, when I was settling into the house and getting used to living in a community. I may only have moved a few streets away, but my last home was a first-floor flat, with no one walking past your window, waving and chatting when you went out with the rubbish, no one ringing your bell and then looking in your windows to see if you were in.

I was simultaneously attempting to settle into domestic life with the lovely man. As lovely as he is, how easy is it going to be for two people - one on the near verge, one on the far verge of 40 - to successfully set up house together when they have both been living alone for the last 12 or so years? That's at least 24 years of combined singletude! What are the odds?

I went a little bonkers during that first year. (Maybe 18 months.) I'm better now, but for how long?

Okay, just one more quick paragraph about this. Handyman is also a crazy gossip, proudly enumerating the many faults of various neighbours, how they neglect their homes and never want to pay the going rate, etc. So having him stroll into my pestilential kitchen of an early morning gives me major agita. Finally, before you ask, yes I have asked him approximately a thousand times to please ring before he decides to drop in, and it would be great if he could arrive at 8 and not 7:30. He just doesn't listen.

So. And how are you?


  1. I am in Group 1 with the odd hop over into Group 2. I live on an island. The only way to get a workman to come to your house on time (ie the right month and the right year) is to sleep with him or at least look as if you might be up for a jump.

    I never look like either might be a possibility and hence Tartarus has had to become a plumber, tiler, mechanic, landscape gardener (that one in particular is FRAUGHT) and electrician.

    The best thing is that he does it and I don't need to sleep with him.

    How am I? I am feeling a bit fat and horrible to be truthful. Just clocked some pix of myself at a Conference at the weekend and all that's missing is the Greenpeace ship to protect me from the harpoons.

    Ali x

  2. Unannounced dropping in? The horror. I've taken up a foetal, hands in mouth position in corner of the sofa while I read. My Mother in Law does it. "In other words, I will be strapping down and ball-gagging my Real Self, forcing all that early-morning lizard-brain bile down where it will bubble and fester." says it all. You have my deepest sympathy. Disconnect the doorbell and keep the door locked til you're ready to answer it. That should do it!

  3. the food sounds delish.

    the unannounced dropping by of a handyman i could handle and was firmly in group 1 until invisible woman mentioned mother-in-law, at which point i vaulted into group 2 so swiftly you'd have missed the movement unless you were trained in ninja spotting. luckily my m-i-l doesn't drive and has recently hurt herself (obviously NOT luckily for her on that count) and will not be dropping by. also, we live 1400 km away.

    how am i? feeling tubby, spotty and, oddly enough, invisible, which pisses me off: the whole north american cult of youth. i think i shall go to greece or italy where construction workers will whistle at me and pinch my bum and boost my soggy self esteem.

  4. Alison, here is a good example of someone else's opinion helping balance everything out. I do appreciate that he is so good at his job.
    And my sympathies for the photo. We all know pictures LIE anyway, I don't care what anyone says.

    Invisible Woman, I have an anecdote involving earplugs and locked doors. I still had to let him in - he wouldn't go away!

    Polish Chick, see above. He has great unyielding powers of tenacity!!
    Sorry to hear you are also afflicted. Yes - sodding youth cult! I concur. (If pressed I will admit to feeling a little relieved to slip into slatternly middle age, but this is only me being lazy.)

    I'm so pleased that you've all said hello! So cheering to find you've been and felt moved to leave your comments. Many thanks!

  5. I love eggs. You can split the world into those who love eggs and those who don't, those who love dogs and who don't, and those who iron. It is as simple as that.
    And I am well, thanks, PB. Will i see you tonight at The Good Ship? Imagine - an outing!

  6. Harridan, your wisdom is deep and wide. Especially about those who iron.
    I will be there. I will have a carnation in my lapel and will be carrying a rolled-up copy of The Lady.
    Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruit." Perhaps I should hold a banana in a conspicuous fashion?
    Seriously, how will we find each other?

  7. what is this "iron" of which you speak?

    also, i am bloody jealous. i want to meet all you fabulous people too! WAAAAAH!