Domestic Dramas

When we got back from Paris the temperatures on the Cote d’Azur had started to fall away. While we’re still enjoying sunshine, rides now require arm warmers and a gilet to guard against catching a chill on descents. However, I seem to have done that anyway and spent the first part of the week feeling sorry for myself and sipping hot lemon drinks. The sore throat’s gone but I still have a bit of a chesty cough. Thankfully, my beloved departed for a business trip to Germany. However, even knowing I was under the weather, still didn’t stop him from batting further work in my direction. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I want hot tea and sympathy, not more work to do!

Speaking of more to do, a nasty surprise lay in wait upon our return from Paris. The dishwasher had broken down which meant I had to hand wash and dry a full-load. When I say broken down, that’s not strictly true, it was partly working but not cleaning the flatware or cutlery. I gave the machine a full-clean and descale but it didn’t solve the problem. Cue call to my friendly technician who arrived and promptly diagnosed the fault. Its U-bend was full of paper. Remind me to take the paper labels off jam jars before I wash them.

This week I’ve also had my annual check up from the building’s plumber. Well, not me personally, my radiators have been tested and I need a number of valves changing. It’s important that these work properly so that in the event of a leak from the radiator, or more probably a flood – I speak from experience – said radiator can quickly be turned off. This assumes, of course, that there’s someone there to do it! We’ve had the same firm of plumbers looking after the building for ever – nice work if you can get it. The father used to wear the most atrocious, badly fitting hair piece. So bad, I had problems keeping a straight face when talking to him. His son, who started as his apprentice, looked about 12 and therefore didn’t inspire confidence, rather thoughts of child-labour.

When I first moved in, I had thought about replacing the rather ugly radiators but had little choice in terms of their replacement, because they have to withstand a huge amount of pressure as the heating is centralised. It was just more of the same. The father advised me not to replace them  – what workman does that? – because they still had years of life left in them. I took his advice and spent the money on fancy bespoke radiator covers to hide them. In the intervening period, I’ve replaced two radiators because they might’ve leaked.

The father and his hairpiece retired a few years ago and the son, who now looks to be in his mid-20s thanks to a beard, has taken over and follows the same principles as his father, if it ain’t broke…..He’s recommended I replace the radiator in the kitchen and half the valves which are nigh on impossible to turn off. The others are fine but, I’ve decided on a belt and braces approach and he’s replacing all of them. Better to be safe rather than make my neighbours sorry. I didn’t ask him how much it would cost because a) I cannot use another plumber and b) his charges are very reasonable. He understands there’s no point in killing the golden goose.

Unfortunately, the dishwasher wasn’t our only recent casualty. Bob my automatic vacuum cleaner who has been hard pressed to keep up with the amount of pollen, dust and general grime that flies in our full-length windows has finally given up the ghost. We’ve had many years of faithful service from one of the early models and have now upgraded to Bob II whom my beloved has programmed to start every morning at 09:00 am. He’s got more sensors than Bob I so tends not to knock quite so violently into the furniture but there’s still pieces he’ll try in vain to get under and then get stuck. Open a window and he’s out in a flash. And, like his predecessor, he gets stuck under the bed, right in the middle where neither I nor the broom can dislodge him. Otherwise, he’s doing a grand job of  keeping the dust down, and the floors clean and shiny.

I’ve long harbored hopes that the company that came up with the self-driving vacuum might extend its range. My brother-in-law has a version which automatically mows his lawn. It’s a rather more sophisticated model as you have to map out the lawn so it doesn’t play havoc with your borders or end up in the fish pond. I was rather hoping for a machine which does all the ironing though, to be fair, I’m working out ever more ways to iron as little as possible. One that would clean and polish my ten floor to ceiling windows would be wonderful. This is my beloved’s job which he’s conveniently avoided on account of the now-mended broken leg. I’ve bought him all sorts of gadgets to make the job easier. Generally, if I want him to do something, he has to have a gadget. He’s got no truck with a bucket, sponge, newspaper and plain old elbow grease. Believe me, I’ve tried in vain to find someone else to do it. A tall robot sounds just the ticket. He could sweep and clean the terrace after he’s done the windows.

Guys put down those instruments and give me a hand with the housework

As you may have gathered I’m all in favour of AI. I can’t wait until I can get an army of robots to keep the place clean. No one enjoys housework. In the fullness of time, they might even have to push my wheelchair and take care of me, just so long as they don’t leg it whenever I open a window onto the balcony.

Things my beloved says: I’ll be able to help more when my leg’s better!

I’m married to the original high-maintenance man who basically does little other than his job. I pretty much take care of everything else. My family call him “The man who just turns up.” He’s not what you would call domesticated. There are times when I believe he was put on this earth simply to create more work for me. I joke that he’s MC (Master in Chief) Drinks but even that’s debatable. He does open the odd bottle and has been known to offer to make cups of tea or coffee, but rarely completes the task in full. He has on odd occasions inexpertly wielded a vacuum and very occasionally put the rubbish out, but that’s pretty much it. He has no idea how most of our electrical appliances work or where anything goes in the kitchen, despite having lived here for over 12 years.

My work-load has increased exponentially since he broke his leg over two months ago. Initially, he got around the flat on his crutches so he couldn’t fetch or carry anything, that was my job. Patience is not one of his strong suits. When he wants something, he wants it NOW! So imagine my surprise when he acknowledged my increased workload and said that as soon as his leg was better, he’d be able to help out more. As if the act of his leg mending is suddenly, and inexplicably, going to make him more amenable to helping out around the house. I also take objection to the more which somehow implies that he’s going to be doing more than he does at the moment. More than nada is still nada! To be honest, I’d just settle for him making less mess.

When we were in Australia, I kept seeing these large billboards asking if I needed a husband. They were promoting a handyman service whereby qualified tradesmen come around to do all those jobs you’ve been waiting for ever for “him indoors” to do. Sadly, they don’t appear to have a French franchise. But that’s exactly what I need. I have a million and one jobs around the house that require someone (other than me) who’s handy with a paintbrush and screwdriver. My beloved isn’t exactly bad at DIY but again he never finishes any of the jobs he starts and tends to make so much mess that it’s not worth even considering asking him.

The accidental loss of one of his crutches has forced him to start walking without either of them. However, he’s still not doing any more around the house. Instead he’s still expecting me to wait on him hand and foot! He’ll be taking his first solo business trip without the crutches next week when he’ll be away for just over a week, including the UK Bank Holiday week-end. This will give me enough time to get everything clean and tidy and then, on his return, he’s going to get a rude awakening.

Of course, I still have to organise my reward. I’m thinking a few days away on my own, somewhere I’ve not been before, in mid-June. Suggestions welcome.