Sunday, 16 May 2021

Scented candles, reed diffusers or nuclear-strength Air Wick, madam?

So there I am, sitting at the kitchen table, trying to work out exactly how many weeks there are until my birthday (11) and how many pounds per week I’ll have to lose to get within a vaguely healthy weight range for my distinct lack of height (two), when all of a sudden I hear the unmistakable sound of running water.

Rapidly running water, somewhere very close.

It can’t be Cookie doing a wee on the travertine tiles near the back door, my razor-sharp reasoning powers spring into action, because he’s out with the Pied Piper of Pooches, Philip from WalKeys.

And it can’t be the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old doing water experiments at the kitchen sink because he and his big sister are with their dad.

Neither, my Sherlock Holmes-style deductions continue, can it be the bath from the en-suite upstairs threatening to crash through the kitchen ceiling — as it has done before — because I can’t remember the last time I ran the bath for myself and there’s no one here but me.

I race (well, it’s more like an extended set of lunges, what with all that excess poundage I’m carrying) towards the laundry at the end of the kitchen only to slip and fall on my ever-broadening beam because the little sink next to the washing machine’s overflowing like crazy, covering all floors — stone, wood, whatever — with smelly water.

My first thought is how much Comfort Creations do you have to put in your wash before the water doesn’t smell like a sewer? Are we really that gross a family that even when we’re getting clean we still stink?

Then I haul myself up and unplug the extension lead that’s connected to the socket near the kettle and toaster because the electrics have gone in the laundry due to the… ah, the builders!

We’ve got the builders in at the moment (and that’s not a euphemism — actual builders are here), trying to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse and build an office for me in the tiny patch of dirt out the back we like to call the garden.

Thing is, they’re redirecting the power source or something. I’m sure it was explained to me but mention anything remotely technical and I glaze over, zoning out in seconds — hence the extension lead.

Only one builder is here, which is lucky because he comes tearing in at the almighty thud and resulting earthquake when my bum hit the tiles — and shows a concern not usually associated with rough and ready builders.

“You all right, love?” he asks in his Brummie accent.

“Yeah, fine,” I say, wondering how the hell I’m going to clean this mess up. And whether I should change my brand of fabric conditioner.

“You go and sit down, I’ll sort this out,” he says, masterfully.

So I do as I’m told and drip back over to the kitchen table to watch the man work his magic with a load of just-clean towels chucked on the floor and a plunger.

“It’s a miracle!” I exclaim, hands clasped to my chest in glee, when after about 10 minutes, it’s all ship shape again. In fact, it’s better than it was before.

And then Cookie bounds in, soaking wet, full of gargantuan burrs and the pong is overwhelming.

“He jumped in the river!’ Philip calls out from the front door. “Had to fish him out — got to run, see you!” And with that the front door slams, the dog goes berserk all over the builder and I nearly pass out with the fumes.

When I try to pull Cookie off the builder, my hands slip and slide all over his greasy fur and when I look at my hands, they’re dark brown.

“That’s the Thames for you,” the builder laughs.

“What the hell is in that thing?” I feel sick at the thought.

But when I bundle Cookie into the car (thank God for Marigolds) to take him for a shampoo and set at the Pet Barn, I notice there’s a For Sale sign at the front of the Loveliest, Nicest, Bestest Neighbour In The World’s house.

And I want to cry.

Did we drive them away? Was it all the noise from the kids? The builders? Bet it was Cookie! Our unbearable stench?

But that’s another story…

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