I sat up in bed, jarred awake by the realisation that I had forgotten something. Yesterday on my evening touchbase with C he had asked me to have ready three things for the morning. I had organised none.
Tiptoeing bleary eyed down the landing, fearful of waking O, I went in search of my husband. Pushing open the bathroom door I found him looking soapily alarmed as I threatened to knock him off balance, crouching as he was behind it on the dusty floor, razor in hand, peering into a shard of broken mirror.
“C wanted to know if the cable for the lighting under the kitchen shelf is the right size” I asked him “Do you know?”
Teetering on his haunches he looked blankly back at me.
“I’ve no idea” he replied.
I closed the door quietly as he continued his somewhat uncomfortable morning ritual. Freshly shaved, he sought me out.
“Thinking about it, it must be.” he said pensively. I nodded. None of the myriad of electricians we have had here each giving us their take on the work of J the Joker has picked up on a problem with the shelf lighting despite the numerous issues elsewhere. But where J is concerned, we have come to realise, its always worth checking.
The second of C’s requests was to find the stainless steel plug sockets I had bought months ago which, splashback now tiled, he will use to replace their white plastic cousins. I saw them recently …I could visualise the B&Q bag in which they still remained….and had put them somewhere safe.
“No problem” I said confidently, “I know where they are”
I looked. I mentally corrected myself. I hadn’t a bloody clue.
A search ensued. Kitchen cupboards? No. The antler coat hooks, however, are safely stored there (remind me when the time comes). Cupboard above the fridge? No. The shelving lights are in there. Handy, I thought as I fetched them down, but not what I was looking for. Larder? No. A pile of books, some unopened mail and my ‘look book’. Ah! That’s where that is! I thought….but no sockets. I peered unhopefully into the snug. Finding anything in there would be similar to the proverbial needle in a haystack, but I figured C would have had the best chance and I doubted anyway that I would have moved anything I wanted to be kept safe there. I ventured upstairs. Despite the collective jeers at the state of ‘C’s room’, the spare bedroom is not looking much better. I stood hesitantly at the doorway as I surveyed the dusty grey landscape of thickly coated objects and furniture. No, I thought. Frustrated I returned downstairs to begin the (identical) round of searching again.
On my third visit to the spare bedroom having searched every other possible ‘safe’ place, I tentatively decided to conduct a more thorough investigation. Pushing aside a few tools, spirit levels and ladders I saw, peeping out from beneath paint tins, a wire draining rack and piles of discarded sandpaper, a corner of what looked like it could be a plastic bag. In much the same way as an archaeologist, buoyed by excited anticipation, brushes away the dirt from glinting metal to discover it becoming a pewter bowl, I pulled gently at the corner. It grew. I pulled again. A whisper of orange print could be seen through the dust. I pulled more vehemently. A bag. Containing sockets. Not immediately identifiable by sight admittedly, camouflaged as they were by their opaque coating, but their clunky shape suggested I’d struck gold. Or, more accurately, stainless steel. It turns out I must have thought about moving them to a safe place…. but done nothing very proactive about it.
With two of the three tasks tasked, I made my way downstairs to locate the necessary equipment to prepare O’s breakfast. Plugging a range of appliances in around the perimeter of the room, the tiling and absence of sockets knocking our main players out of action for the time being, I got the kettle on for essential coffee and O’s poached egg. As O surfaced from his slumber and P arrived I settled them both safely at the table whilst I completed my dealings with hazardous boiling water and P was subjected to the newest addition to O’s library.
“Dog” said O pointing at an unfamiliar character.
“It’s a stick” said a bemused P “but we didn’t have talking sticks in my day so yeah, let’s call him a dog”
Questioning whether P was entertaining O or vice versa, I took advantage of the captive tiler to quiz him on my latest dilemma….how to deal with the Hideous Hearth. The fireplace refurb man had suggested we use quarry tiles and P obligingly talked me through what I needed. Meanwhile O chomped his way through his breakfast, indicating his displeasure at having lost P’s sole attention with an occasional eggy reach for his arm. Just then the door sounded.
“Ooo, parcels” I said as I got up to get it.
I opened the door to find, not my eagerly awaited paint, but a sour faced K flanked by the hefty G.
“Any news on this cistern?” K asked with barely a hello. “Has it arrived at the warehouse?”
“Coffee?” I asked, dodging the question…..another thing Id forgotten to do.
“A quick one.” he replied, as his eyes clocked the resting P, coffee in hand. Having extracted a promise from me to chase up the bathroom shop and ring him in an hour, he nodded his satisfaction before tromping upstairs, G on his tail, as P followed sheepishly behind.
With coffees made and drunk K and his one man entourage left shortly after and an indignant P re-emerged, rolling his eyes.
“‘When you’ve finished your breakfast’ he just said to me” he said mockingly, “I just said ‘ok yeah, mate. You finish your coffee, there'” He shook his head “Anyway, lets have a look at this hearth”
Picking his way across the lounge amidst the scattered paint pots and rollers, he lifted the dust sheet to reveal its hideousness.
“You shouldn’t tile over that really” he reprimanded, “that centre bit is original”
I sighed, my conscience agreeing with him. My eyes, however, did not.
“I know…..but how do we deal with it?” I asked “These chequered tiles around it are disgusting”
With a patient explanation from P about how we might be able to tone it down without ripping it out completely I decided to strike it off my immediate to-do list until S and I had time for a good chat about the options.
Adorning O with his schoolbag and picking up my own I left P, finally, to do the job he is employed to do and headed out to nursery, post office (kitchen handles have arrived!), Topps Tiles to switch the grout and Carpet Smart. Repulsed immediately by the smell of polypropylene and avenues of cheap carpet rolls I (smartly?) ran for the hills. Well. Our hill. Arriving home I dumped the grout next to the sockets, kitchen handles next to those and the number of K’s electrician next to that so C can ask his baffling questions about cabling to someone who isn’t trained in dance. Then I left to start my day. I checked my watch. 10am.