1000 Shades of Grey
Monday, February 28, 2005
Falling down around our ears
We pull the ceiling down.
Well, that's possibly a slight exaggeration. We actually only pulled down the ceiling over our bay window.
What starts as "I’ll just pull back this bit of plaster" rapidly turns into, "Well we've come this far, might as well pull it all down".
So we do.
Dust and grit rain down on us as we attack the ceiling with a claw hammer.
When the dust settles (in both a literary and metaphorical sense) we examine what lay behind it. The good news is most of the woodwork is in fine fettle; the bad news is that some of it isn’t.
In an effort to repair some of the damage, we make our weekly trip to Wickes and buy two large sheets of plasterboard and a piece of wood and transport it back home in the back of a Nissan Micra.
I don't know what it is about the Micra, but to date it's carried everything I've asked it to, including a two-seater sofa, a twelve foot ladder and 3m piece of kitchen worktop with the minimum of fuss (although obviously not all at the same time). It truly is the Mary Poppins carpet bag of cars, with storage capacity to rival the Tardis, with the added advantage that I don't need a sonic screwdriver to make it work.
With a constant stream of obscenities directed at the dust and grit that keeps landing in my mouth and eyes, we fix the hole with the maximum of fuss, and I realise how similar to my father I can be, and how I lack the patience to really enjoy DIY.
Still, the hole is repaired and the threat of the ceiling falling in is hopefully averted.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Flushed with success
I go to the loo.
Obviously this is not an uncommon occurrence (if it was, I'd have issues with colostomy bags – which I don't), and therefore would not normally be worthy of blogging. (I also try not to disturb my readers through stories of my biological functions, as a general rule).
Whilst temping a few years ago, it occurred to me that going to the loo at my employers expense was a cunning plan, and my body has now broadly conditioned itself to summon me to the throne between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.
Having done my business (and earned about £1.50 in the process) I flush the loo.
Only the bowl doesn't clear.
Instead it fills with water.
I stay calm. I avail myself of the cunningly positioned brush and make a few passing swipes into the bowl, hoping that the blockage will somehow clear. Fragments of paper float up.
I flush again.
Unfortunately, this only succeeds in raising the water level.
Now I start to panic.
What can I do?
Risk another go with the brush and flush, hoping that I'll now clear the problem and the water will drain away, rather than overflowing on to the toilet floor? Leave it, return to my desk, and make sure I'm out the door before the poor cleaner has to deal with it? Confess to my colleagues that I have blocked the loo?
None of the options is particularly tempting. I stand, in contemplation, weighing up their various merits as the small scraps of paper tantalisingly float on the surface, taunting me.
As I consider opting for the cowards choice and leaving it for the cleaner something miraculous happens.
The blockage clears of it's own accord and the water level drops down to a safe height. (Well either that, or small mer-people clear the blockage with pickaxes and shovels.)
Disaster is averted.
Monday, February 21, 2005
That sinking feeling
Having spent the last week doing our washing up in the bath (although obviously not whilst in there ourselves) it was with great delight that we christened our new kitchen sink on Sunday.
The kitchen itself is something of a major project at the moment, with the old inherited dinosaur now unceremoniously dumped in a pile outside the back door, and the new one still resolutely flat packed for much of the last month. However, we've now got half a kitchen in place.
There's still a lot to be done, with no wall units in place and doors and shelves still missing from the bits that are in. However, we can now really see what it’s going to look like – and it's great.
Inevitably it's going to take time to get it right, but at the moment it is a glorious work in progress, and we can't wait 'till it is done.
Friday, February 11, 2005
The Play What I Saw
Rather than sit and watch Sven's boys bore draw with Holland on Wednesday night, we went to the theatre to see The Play What I Wrote. The play, based upon the double act of Morecombe and Wise, and featuring several of their jokes wasn't quite the side-splitting-laugh-so-hard-you-wet-yourself experience I had hoped, but nonetheless did have me chuckling along at several points.
Aside from being based upon Britain's most famous comedy double act, it is also notable for featuring a mystery guest star. Its West End run has featured such names as Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Dawn French. Last night's performance in Nottingham was graced by Dame Sian Phillips. Apparently she's famous for work in productions such as I, Claudius, which I'm unfortunately too young to have seen.
Regardless of the fact that I hadn't really heard of her, unlike the guffawing codgers in front of us, her appearance was nonetheless highly entertaining, and her brief cameo certainly helped the second half of the performance to exceed the laughter levels of the first.
All in all, an enjoyable evening, made all the better for the fact that we got moved down a level in the theatre, as only about 5 people had booked the really cheap seats, and they decided against opening the balcony.
One question though, why are theatre seats so cramped? It would greatly improve my desire to attend if they had seats laid out for anyone over 4' 6".
Monday, February 07, 2005
Cooking with gas
We go to buy a cooker on Saturday.
This is the way shopping should be.
We know what we want (a cooker) we know which model we want, and much it costs, and where we want to buy it from.
We drive in to town, park the car and go forth to the cooker vendor. We check we still like the cooker and say to the shop assistant "We want to buy this cooker".
She types it in to her computer, and it appears, priced £80 more than we want to pay for it. Disaster looms on the horizon – we can't afford to pay that much.
She speaks to her colleague, we look pitiful, and her colleague agrees to sell it at the advertised price, despite there being no legal obligation on them to do so.
Disaster is averted.
As we stand there, arranging delivery, another worker changes the price on the cooker we'd just purchased. We are the last people to buy it at the cheaper price.
The funny thing is that we both feel like we’ve just saved £80. Obviously this is madness, as we simply wouldn't have bought the cooker if we had arrived ten minutes later and it had only been available at the higher price, yet we both somehow feel like we've saved money.
To celebrate we go and look at tiles.
As a fan of the oval ball game as well as the round, I thought I' blog about the six-nations whilst it is on. Over the course of a fairly scrappy weekend of rugby, I felt that Scotland were robbed by bad refereeing decisions, which allowed France to get out of jail; Wales deserved to win having thoroughly outplayed England; and Ireland came through a very tough encounter in Rome with injury worries over their star centres.
Obviously, being an Englishman married to a Welshwoman, whose in-laws were in Cardiff on Saturday I won't be dwelling on the non-performance of my countrymen.
In anticipation of the forthcoming British Lions tour to New Zealand, and seeing as the Six Nations started on Saturday, I'd like to present what I believe will be the starting XV for the first Test based on the first round of six nations matches:
15 Jason Robinson (Eng)
14 Josh Lewsey (Eng)
13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain) (Ire)
12 Gavin Henson (Wal)
11 Shane Williams (Wal)
10 Jonny Wilkinson (Eng)
9 Chris Cussiter (Sco)
1 Tom Smith (Sco)
2 Shane Byrne (Ire)
3 Julian White (Eng)
4 Malcolm O'Kelly (Ire)
5 Paul O'Connell (Ire)
6 Richard Hill (Eng)
7 Lewis Moody (Eng)
8 Simon Taylor (Sco)
I accept that there are fitness doubts over Hill, Taylor and Wilkinson and that Lewis Moody missed Saturday's game through injury, but I still think that if fit they will all start and I've yet to see a convincing argument for an alternative.
At the moment, players like Hickie and O'Connor are pushing hard to be included, but in my opinion haven’t quite done enough, yet.
Obviously I'll be reviewing the team as the Six Nations progresses, so I'm sure things will change as the weeks go by.
Friday, February 04, 2005
X marks the spot
Imagine my delight when I heard that this man is to be fighting for my vote at the next general election.
That's right, leatherface is coming to a ballot paper near me, bringing his Vanitas cronies with him. The thing is, given the relatively small support he has, will he be doing all his own leafleting, and therefore turning up on my doorstep.
In which, case I need to buy a large dog with sharp teeth.
The dilemma which this raises is that I'm broadly left of centre in my views and currently live in the seat of Elizabeth Blackman, Geoff Hoon's PPS.
Therefore I'd normally not vote for her. However, as her majority is only just under 7000, do I forsake my aversion to backing Blair for the sake of blocking Kilroy, or do I vote as I normally would, and hope that the remainder of the Borough are bright enough to realise that voting for him would be a grievous error.
My only hope is that Kilroy will take votes off any potential BNP or UKIP candidates and thus reduce their share of the vote. If he could also take some Tory votes, that'd be good - but not enough that he gets in, obviously.