I am a deserted wife. My Lovely Hub is somewhere in the Brecon Beacons firing small balls of paint at about 800 similar-minded individuals. He will come home tonight, muddy, smelly and covered with a multitude of small but perfectly formed raised welts which will morph into bruises over the next couple of days. He usually picks up three or four of said welts on a day’s paintballing but he’s been gone since Friday so I may have to use a red marker and join up all the dots when he returns.
We have coped with being so cruelly abandoned thus far; me and the squabbling teens, and that is despite the many issues that threaten to disturb our domestic bliss (!) One of the main issues over the past couple of days has been an overflow water tank that doesn’t – or rather it does but in the wrong places. The morning after the Fruit and Nut party, Hub woke to the sound of dripping and discovered that the valve that should open and let water out of the tank had stopped working. Whether or not this has anything to do with College Boy’s filling our house with drunken teenagers, or whether it was just an awful coincidence, we may never know. For the past month though, Lovely Hub has been utilising a length of plastic tubing and several jugs to empty the excess water out of the bedroom window and onto the roof below – where the moss has become lush and verdant. He usually has to do this in the early hours of the morning when the dripping wakes him up (it wakes me up too).
Being tallish and thin, Hub has no problem getting his hand into the tank and extracting the water via the tube. Being neither tallish or thinnish, I have a very large problem – which is why I stay in bed and pretend to be asleep whilst he is stumbling about in the dark with jugs and a plastic tube, trying not to wake me. College Boy had a go but he has inherited his mother’s chunky wrists and whimpered when the nasty tank bit him.
The mad scrap metal merchant who used to own our house put the door frame on the airing cupboard after installing the water tanks and as a consequence there is very little room for manoeuvre. We know that we have to sort our heating system out but in our usual haphazard fashion we have put it off. We all know that the timer for the boiler died a couple of years ago – which is why I get up earlier than everyone else in order to switch it on manually. We all know that the radiator in the upstairs bathroom never goes off; it is a small sleepy satellite that has cut itself loose from the mothership. We all know that putting the boiler to hot water only will turn the heating on – sometimes – it likes to keep us guessing.
There are many other anomalies in our house; three extensions and four flat roofs, wiring that sits on top of the wall instead of inside it, walls and ceilings that are covered in every pattern of Artex imaginable (we think that they used the downstairs hallway to practice on because it has at least five different patterns). This smaller version of the Money Pit (Home Crap Home) always has something that needs doing but there is always something else that is more important to spend the pennies on.
As the realisation that Lovely Hub was going away for three days dawned, so did the thorny issue of how I was going to empty the water tank whilst he was away. College Boy and I had a dummy run but it consisted of him standing on a stool moaning about how much his hand hurt whilst I stood halfway across the bedroom holding a length of guttering that he found in the garage and which is now lying on the (broken – cheers Gibbo) patio table outside. The guttering worked quite well once CB had got the water flowing but as the tank tends to fill up in the early hours of the morning, the idea of standing there holding a six-foot length of guttering out the window whilst CB swore at the water tank did not appeal.
At last, Lovely Hub conceded and called up a friend who has a plumbing business. He was due to visit on Friday lunchtime, several hours after Hub and his friend had departed for jolly paintball japes, so I made sure that Hub wrote it all down for me.
Hub’s friend stayed in the front room the night before they departed. We were not good hosts; Uni Boy spent much of the night watching American talk shows and chortling in his bedroom – next door to the front room, College Boy spent much of the night upstairs shouting at his game buddies and chortling, Hub emptied the tank before and after we got some sleep and the garage alarm went off at half-past three in the morning waking up everyone but Uni Boy – who had’t gone to bed yet. We weren’t chortling.
After the paintballers had gone (only one false start – Hub had to come back for fruit juice and his paintball markers (gun things) without which ….. ) I was very proud of the fact that I got the grey and blue bins out on the road to be emptied (even though they were very,very heavy for poor little me) and glad that I did it at half past seven in the morning because the heavens opened shortly after that and continued to chuck it down all day. My wonderful neighbour put them back for me. Mwah.xx
I made my ‘to-do’ list once they’d gone; ensuring that I’d already done at least three things on it so that I could cross them off straight away and give myself a sense of achievement. TMA05 featured heavily on the list – it is the title of the next piece of Open University work I have to do and I need to get going on it because in less than two weeks I shall be leaving for a residential block at Nottingham Uni – ooh squee! The chance to be a real Uni Woman at last!
My new tutor – the one that I thought was so nice and sympathetic compared to his bile-filled predecessor – is just as fluent in sarcasm. My sad attempts at hypothesising and working out whether I need an ANOVA, MANOVA or a MANCOVA to analyse my as yet uncollected data (we do the experimental research whilst at Nottingham) and how many tails it has (don’t ask) do not meet with his approval. As a consequence I keep moving the books around on the ironing board that I use as a table and finding multiple distractions to avoid depressing myself further. Uni Boy irons far more than I do so I have to move my piles of books so that he can borrow the board. Fortunately, he irons nocturnally so I find my board back in the front room when I get up in the morning.
The plumber and his mate visited at lunchtime as arranged, looked askance at the water tank and chortled at our solutions. Within half an hour they had rigged up a curious Heath Robinson-type construction of pipes and joints that enables me to drain the water into the mop bucket. I still have to empty it using the measuring jugs – so the moss remains healthy – but I don’t have to try to get my hand inside the tank anymore. Unfortunately, on the first night the pipe was a couple of inches short of the water in the bucket so all I got was drip, drip,drip all night long. One night of the Chinese water torture was enough. I have now raised the bucket up so the end of the pipe is in the water and silent. Uni Boy emptied it for me yesterday tea time (when he woke up) and College Boy had another go at bedtime (mine not his). The bucket was nearly full when I got up this morning – I had a lie-in and woke up at twenty-past seven – whoo! Chucking water out of the window has a curiously medieval feel to it.
We ARE getting a new heating system.
This morning I have Tai Chi-ed, and will be eating breakfast shortly, after which I shall make another ‘to-do’ list that will feature TMA05 prominently but will also have things on it that I actually want to do – and some that I don’t but hey – that kitchen bin won’t empty itself now!
There are so many ways in which Lovely Hub makes my life easier (and happier and funnier and totally bearable) and it isn’t till he’s not here that I stop and appreciate that. He’s got to cope without me for a whole week soon but I think he’ll manage a bit better than I do – which offends my ego somewhat – no one likes to think they are easily replaceable. I’m still reaching for the phone to call my Dad and tell him things. That may never stop.
Ho hum. Time for breakfast before I get totally maudlin and have to put whiskey in the porridge to cheer myself up again. Uni Boy has just gone to bed. College Boy has chortled himself to sleep and this is a time when the Whinging Cat and I would have cuddled each other back into a good mood. Except that the Whinging Cat is now buried under a lavender bush in the garden. Where’s that whiskey?