Sunday, 17 November 2013
Let’s Get Shirty
As a teenager I used to be a bit of a hot head. You know...strop about if I couldn’t get my own way over something. Get a bit shouty. Pout a lot – sulkily, not seductively. And if a temper tantrum reached boiling point, I’d wave my arms around like windmills to emphasise my anger. My parents lost count how many times I’d yell, ‘It’s not fair.’ Those words are a teenager’s catchphrase.
As the years pass and we walk through life, inevitably we grow out of saying, ‘It’s not fair.’ We also find our tolerance grows and we react differently to the way we used to as a teen. I remember reaching a defining point somewhere in my forties where I was only a fraction of the hot head I’d been in my teens. But this was also helped by the fact that I now had two teenagers of my own frequently yelling, ‘It’s not fair,’ whilst windmilling their arms about. Also I was too knackered and browbeaten to retaliate.
‘Aren’t you calm,’ my mother said last week. ‘You’re nothing like the feisty woman you used to be.’
Actually that’s not true. Deep down I am still feisty, it’s just that I’ve put a lid on it. After my spell in hospital this summer, everything was put in perspective. If a day is full of sh*t hitting fans, rather than retaliate I've simply learnt to duck. Avoiding cr*p may be tedious, but it’s still more preferable to bone marrow tests and hospital food. Anyway, I digress.
‘Aren’t you calm,’ said my father, when the boiler in our new house keeled over 24 hours before moving in.
‘Aren’t you calm,’ said my husband when his bathwater failed to flow out of the main drain and instead erupted out of the downstairs loo and flooded the hallway and kitchen.
‘Aren’t you calm,’ said my daughter when a painter misread his address sheet and painted our brand new shed bright green. And the kerb on my parking space collapsed damaging my car. And I put my shoulder out wrestling with a back door that refused to lock. And so on. Calmness reigned. Serenity was my middle name.
I suppose everybody has a line that they are finally pushed up to. Mine came last Tuesday when a well known bedroom company were due to fit my bespoke wardrobes. Oh how I’d waited for this moment! I could now satisfy the deep craving to unpack boxes and put clothes away! I’d paid a lot of money for these wardrobes. The designer and I had spent hours poring over graph paper. The surveyor had checked and double checked the measurements. There was then a two week pause or everything to be made at the factory. And then the fitter turned up to put it all together. Yessssss!
‘Hello,’ said Mr Fitter.
‘Good morning!’ I said crisply. No beaming or smiling. Didn’t want him thinking I was flirting. Too many misunderstandings have occurred over harmless smiles in the last few weeks.
‘Where are we doing it?’
‘In the bedroom.’ There was an uneasy silence as we both contemplated our respective choices of words. ‘Follow me,’ I snapped, desperate to regain employer/employee status.
I have two flights of stairs in my new house. By the time we’d reached my bedroom, the fitter was panting for all the wrong reasons.
‘I smoke forty a day,’ he wheezed. ‘I can’t say I’m too happy about having to lug all the material stored in your lounge up to the top floor.’
‘I did explain to your company that I didn’t have anywhere to properly store the materials,’ I waved a hand at the box towers all around, ‘but they were most adamant that I had to make space somewhere. The lounge was the only feasible place.’
‘Well you’re going to have to clear this bedroom somehow,’ Mr Fitter said as he planted his feet wide and stuck a pencil behind his ear, ‘because I have no room to get my big tool out.’
There was another weighty silence as we both digested his unfortunate phrase.
‘How big,’ I croaked, before clearing my throat, ‘exactly what size is this tool?’
‘Vast. It’s my workbench.’
‘Yes. I use it to jigsaw.’
I gathered we weren’t talking about the toyshop variety. ‘You’re not cutting materials in here!’
‘I will be if you want me to make your wardrobes,’ said Mr Fitter looking mutinous.
‘Make my wardrobes? What do you mean make my wardrobes? My wardrobes have already been made! They just need putting together!’
‘No. They need making. And I’m making them.’
‘I’m terribly sorry,’ I said, squaring my shoulders, ‘but there seems to have been some monumental understanding. My daughter is asthmatic. No way would I have signed a contract with your company if your designer had explained you’d be making wardrobes in my house! I can’t possibly have wood dust filling the air.’
There then followed an awful lot of chuntering. Mr Fitter was mightily upset at having his job cancelled. Time was money, didn’t I understand? He had a wife and family to feed. And a forty a day cigarette habit to fund.
Minutes later the designer was on the phone full of apologies at forgetting to mention that the wardrobes weren’t cut to size at the factory.
‘Are you sure we can’t cut them in your house?’ he wheedled. ‘What if we put a dust sheet down?’
‘A dust sheet,’ I repeated, calmly. Oh yes I was oh-so-calm. The sort of calm where you enunciate everything slowly and quietly before spectacularly losing the plot. And suddenly I was whizzing backwards in time to my sixteen year old self fighting the tremendous urge not to turn my arms into high speed windmills and shriek, ‘It’s not fair!’
To cut this tale short, Mr Fitter has gone and Mr Designer has – with a bit of luck – had his knuckles rapped. Meanwhile I’ve appropriated a number of portable hanging rails, unpacked the clothes and binned all the boxes. And a new wardrobe fitter has been employed. One who makes the wardrobes in a factory and then sends over a fitter to put them together like a jigsaw, rather than actually using a jigsaw. And I’m almost back to feeling calm. Which reminds me.
A woman waiting to have her new wardrobes fitted...no, no, no...let’s change it. Two hunters were out in the jungle, when an elephant appeared from nowhere and squashed flat one of the hunters. The remaining hunter was horrified. He whipped out his mobile phone and called the Emergency Services. ‘Help,’ he gasped, ‘my friend is dead. What can I do?’ The operator said, ‘Calm down! I can help, but you must keep calm. First, let’s make sure he’s definitely dead.’ There was silence then a gunshot was heard. Back on the phone, the hunter said, ‘Okay, now what?’