I could say that it was an uneventful May Bank Holiday, but I’d be lying, and as you all know, I am nothing but truthful.
It started on Thursday, the ‘beginning’ of the eventful phase, when I stood, sipping tea, staring at the lounge. There was nothing particularly wrong with it. I guess I was just bored with the familiar look of it. It needed something to happen. Just a little something that would cheer it up and/or make it a bit different.
By the last sip of tea, I’d texted Richard at work. ‘I’ve decided that we are exposing that second fireplace in the lounge, so come home with your happy head on…if you can find it!’
Ten minutes later he replied. ‘OK.’
He’s such a sweetie, well, he was then, when it was suggested!
Friday morning, at the crack of dawn, with tool in hand, Richard tentatively started peeling off the wallpaper. Obviously I joined in, but was instantly told (very bravely on Richard’s part) to leave it, because he wanted to do it carefully. I kept my cool, because it was only minutes into the great ‘fireplace exposure’ project. I made tea.
The following is how all our projects go;
Me. ‘Why are you doing it like that?’
Richard. ‘Why not?’
Me. ‘Because it isn’t logical and it won’t work.’
Richard. Leave it to me.’
Two minutes later.
Richard, scratching head. ‘Hmmm.’
Me. ‘Well? Are you ready to try my way now?’
It’s not that I’m cocky, or clever, or big-headed, but I am logical. And logical always wins. Richard is not logical. Never. Ever. The gene passed him by – big time. So, under my logical guidance we located the edges of the plaster board, carefully ran a Stanley knife around it, and stepped back to wonder at the joys of twenty-three years of fallen soot and debris. Richard beetled off to the loo. I think the fear of the entire chimney collapsing was enough to move his bowels. Meanwhile, yours truly, as helpful as ever, decided to start shovelling up the debris. As I moved in, I glimpsed long, bony legs! I screamed and exited the lounge, bumping into Richard as he came down the stairs.
‘There’s something in there,’ I yelped, dancing on the spot. I said I was logical. Brave in the face of dead creatures doesn’t come into it. Even the words, ‘There’s something in there,’ sent a shiver down my spine, Stephen King-ish, and in retrospect I wished I hadn’t used them.
As already stated, Richard is not logical but he is a man, and brave or not, would defend me to the death. He advanced the scene…and I made tea.
Two years ago, on a hot summer’s day, the lounge had become infested with black flies – and I’m not talking midges here. I’m talking blue-bottle-type-things, the size of small mice. I said at the time, as Richard was tearing round the lounge, Dyson in hand, sucking them up the pipe, that I thought they were coming from under the skirting, covering the chimney breast. And my powers of deduction and logic concluded that something had fallen down the chimney and been the host to a million maggots, which had now hatched and were seeking freedom.
The three dead bird bodies that Richard shovelled out of the debris gave me the proof needed to confirm this. I wanted to believe that they had been baby jackdaws that had died in the nest and fallen down into their eternal grave, but as we continued attempting to prevent the loose bricks from falling I noticed that there was bird pooh on one of them. This darkened my day. Dead birds don’t pooh. Worse was to come.
Having exposed the chimney we then decided to resuscitate Betsy Land Rover and risk her across country and drive to the nearest B&Q to fetch plaster, plaster board, hearth tiles, a sun lounger…
Yes, a sun lounger. It’s nearly summer. The sun will be shining. I won’t be sitting here taping away all summer. Crikey, what do you take me for? I have Chea’s antics to sit and watch and the chucks to keep my eye on, and books to read…and stuff. I digress…
We were tootling along, Betsy was purring, well clearing her throat, when a rabbit ran into the road. I screamed and held it…and held it, as the rabbit stopped, turned, and ran back. My scream was replaced by a thud. A kind of thud once heard, never forgotten.
‘Yes.’ Richard said.
Well that just about did it. All I could think was, this little rabbit had woken to a lovely sunny morning, nibbled a bit of grass, thought, ‘Ah, the grass is always greener on the other side,’ and decided to cross the road to the other side and …bam. Dead.
Wrecked my day, frankly. 3 bird carcasses and a road kill.
We argued all the way round B&Q before Richard pulled the ‘I’m in charge of how much Betsy can carry,’ and informed me that we didn’t have room for a sun lounger. I sulked all the way to the Land Rover. I hated sodding Betsy. She had no capacity for anything and was a killer of bunnies. Bloody thing.
Richard loaded her up and then stood scratching his head as he realised the plaster board wouldn’t go in. ‘Why can’t I get that in?’ he snapped.
I shrugged, because now I hated Betsy Land Rover and her daft owner.
‘Gail! Why can’t I get the plaster board in? What should we do?’
‘Load it properly would be my guess,’ I said, still sulking about the rabbit…and lack of a sun lounger.
‘I suppose you could do it better?’ he said, cockily.
‘Obviously!’ I said.
‘Well you do it then,’ he said.
‘I will,’ I said. ‘Take the shit out!
He took the shi…stuff out and I loaded it.
‘You always know best, don’t you?’ he said.
It wasn’t a compliment.
‘Pretty much,’ I said. ‘And I know something else too.’
‘Go on, what,’ he said.
‘There’s now room for the sun lounger, so off you pop. You can go and fetch it and I’ll guard the goods.’
He shuffled off. Seven minutes later and he was back with my new lounger on a trolley that wouldn’t steer, and a look on his face, that, if I was a nervous person, would have scared the hell out of me. Fortunately I’m not a nervous person.
Later that day Richard found that the grill thingy on the front of Betsy had been caved in. He believes that the rabbit leapt into the air to avoid being hit and dented his grill. He moaned and moaned and said, ‘Do you know how much these are to replace?’ As if I would know…or care. Betsy’s a killer and she deserves everything she gets.
Richard was still moaning the following morning. He called me to look at a page on eBay, with all the cronky old Land Rover bits. He pointed to a grill and said, ‘Look! When I say I’m peed off about the grill this is how much they are to replace.’
The advert said £80.
‘Well it could have been worse,’ I said.
‘How?’ Richard snapped. ‘How could it possibly be worse?’
‘Well you could have been the rabbit!’
He hasn’t mentioned it since…although I did see him outside, attempting to put into action my logical suggestion. ‘Get a hammer and bang it straight!’
PS The chimney project is ongoing.