Dear Dave

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Catching up

Dear Dave,

You're right, I haven't really told you what happened in the end about all the repairs from the flood damage. I was waiting until the tradesmen were finished. They've been almost finished for a month now, however.

All they have to do is make the towel rail in the bathroom work again, except they've had to 'order a part over the internet from a foreign gas supplier'. I should really phone them and chase it up but, after months of chaos, it's nice not having tradesmen in the house. Also, although it's getting pretty chilly stepping out of the shower in the morning, I'm nervous of what else they might break in trying to fix the problem. There's something to be said for quitting while you're not too far behind.

Our insurers cheered us up the other day, however. Seemingly unaware that we're already their customers, they sent us some junk mail encouraging us to sign up with them. Their big selling point was that their call-centre staff are polite, professional and always phone back when they say they will.

How we laughed...

At least the decorating is done and, after much effort, most of our furniture and stuff is back where it should be. My safe place is reinstated, the replacement Xbox 360 is set up and I managed to trade-in my temporary one for pretty much what I paid for it. Result. Thanks to all the sorting out, I haven't had much time to actually spend in the safe place, but it's good to know it's there.

On another happy note, the mice have mysteriously gone away. No more have leapt at me out of household appliances. One day they were high-diving down the stairs and hiding amongst shoes, the next day they had vanished. There was that dopey one I caught a week later but, since then, I haven't spotted any evidence of them. Not a sign. Maybe they were coming in from next door and the repairs there blocked up the access hole. Or maybe, as soon as I'd closed down the toaster buffet, they simply had no reason to come to our house.

The second explanation begs the question of how often they'd been snacking in the crumb tray before I caught one in the act.

Excuse me a moment whilst I go scrub the worktops with bleach one last time...

Anyway, we bought a new toaster and we're going through twice as much sliced bread as normal thanks to the novelty value of being able to slightly char it again. I keep a lid on the toaster when we're not using it, though.

Marie went with Sarah on the shopping trip to buy the toaster and was very excited when they got back. "We bought a toaster!" she shrieked, showing me the box. "This one didn't have mice in." She seemed to believe that the other ones in the shop came with the mice presupplied. I didn't correct her. After all, I'm now a man who keeps a lid on his toaster and views open toasters with paranoid suspicion. Who am I to judge what's crazy?

Speaking of paranoia, I did find a mouse dropping in the middle of the lounge carpet a couple of days ago. I assume it came out from under the TV cabinet when I was faffing with wires to try and fix our wireless router (oh, the irony) but it did cause me to panic at the prospect that there had been some fresh scouting by the rodents. Our stricter than normal hygiene rules will remain for a while longer yet. I suspect they will continue to be ignored, though:

Marie and I were sitting upstairs in the lounge the other evening and she suddenly went, 'A crumb!" and picked something off her sleeve. It had been a little while since tea and I didn't get a good look at whatever it was so I was going to tell her not to eat it. But, of course, I was too late. She popped it in her mouth and smiled happily. I shrugged. What can you do? I was going to give her a lecture but then I looked down and noticed a crumb on my own shirt. Without thinking, I picked it up, popped it in my mouth and smiled happily. I think it was toast but I didn't really take a good look at it. You know, it had been a while since tea, and I was feeling a little hungry, and it was probably toast and...

I decided to hold off on the lecture. I felt I'd lost the moral high ground.

There's only so much conflict that I can take, anyway. Earlier in the day she'd asked to watch some Winnie the Pooh. Now, we have Bob the Builder, Tweenies, Teletubbies, Bagpuss, most of Pixar's ouput, Tom & Jerry, Numberjacks, Scooby-Doo, Fimbles, Thomas the Tank-Engine, Barney, Shrek, the adventures of various Disney princesses, Mr Men and goodness knows what else but we don't have any Winnie the Pooh.

"We don't have any Winnie the Pooh," I said. "What do you want to watch instead."

"I want watch Winnie the Pooh instead," she said excitedly.

"We don't have any. You can't watch something we haven't got. You'll have to watch something else. How about Tweenies? Do you want to watch Tweenies?"

She pulled a face. "No! I don't want watch Tweenies."

"How about Bob?" I suggested. "Would you like to watch Bob the Builder?"

"No. I not like that."

"OK. How about...?" I made various suggestions. She refused all of them. Things went on like this for some time.

"How about Little Mermaid?" I asked finally, approaching the end of my tether.

"No," she said emphatically

I gave up. "OK. Tell me what you want to watch then."

"I want to watch..." She paused, knowing I might not take kindly to her asking for Winnie the Pooh again. Then she had an idea. "I want watch something we don't have."

I wasn't fooled. This was obviously just a way of informing me she wanted the bear of very little brain without actually saying the name. "How's that going to work?" I snapped. "Tell me something that we have that you want to watch."

It was too late.

"I want watch something we don't have," she said again but she now seemed quite taken by the concept. At that point, I knew that even if I suddenly found some Winnie the Pooh, it would no longer suffice. I was sure that the moment I produced 'something that we didn't have', it would become something else - it would become 'something we hadn't had until recently'. That wasn't going to cut it. She had her heart set on a logical impossibility. She wanted to not have her cake and eat it.

So, of course, she got nothing. She got to sit and glumly stare at a blank screen for an hour, every so often whining miserably, "I want something we don't have."

It wasn't much fun for anyone but eventually she said, "I want Party Rings now. They make me happy." I gave her the biscuits and, sure enough, she was happy again.

If only that worked on adults...

Hang on, maybe it does work. Things aren't so bad now but there's no harm in doing a little experimentation in preparation for the next time the house falls apart. Excuse me while I head over to the biscuit tin to conduct some research...

Yours in a woman's world,


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