Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Dark Skies.

It’s been one of those weeks were the weather has reflected my mood. One minute sunny and bright, the next grey and dark with the odd tempestuous outburst thrown in with barely a warning. It all started with my poor brother being made redundant. Is there anything worse than watching a member of your family suffer stress and anxiety? Hubby and I feel so helpless as unfortunately the elusive magic wand of megabucks is exactly that. I have bought a couple of scratch cards and a few lines on the Lotto but to no avail. I did hold my breath when I scratched away two £100,000 numbers only to win a quid. At least I got my money back.
The whole economic outlook is so gloomy it is very hard to be happy-go-lucky. I saw an ordinary sliced loaf of bread in my local supermarket this week for £1.86. For a loaf of bread? Unbelievable. Hubby has me on a tight shoe string. He made me do my weekly grocery shopping online this week so that my eyes didn’t buy anything on impulse, “Like DVD’s and anything in the ‘seasonal aisle’”
“Like what?”, I demanded hotly.
“Oh like a wooden deckchair last summer and six blow-up beds, not to mention a parasol with fairy lights and solar powered patio lights”.
“They were all a massive bargain”, I protested.
“That’s as maybe but we didn’t actually need any of them”. He then pulled up a chair and sat at my shoulder and supervised.
“Look at that! A bargain, buy one get one free”, he interjected cheerfully.
“But nobody likes corned beef”, I said sulkily.
“Like? This isn’t a question of whether we like it or not. These are hard times Alice and we must make do. You must learn to make things last two meals, beef one night can be mince the next. Roast chicken one night, risotto the next, soup the next and so on”. I hate him so much when he lends that air of condescension that I could stab him. Repeatedly.
“And what do you suggest I do with sausages once baked?”
“Put them in a pot mess the next day and add baked beans to it for filler. It’ll be tasty and nutritious, or make it into a shepherd’s pie”. My God you can tell he’s been a caterer in his past life.
So when the delivery man arrived I was not as excited to see him as I am when occasionally I have used this service before and know that I have ordered speciality breads and all sorts of delicious little thing in pots from the deli. Instead I miserably put my corned beef away with the tinned stuff along with pulses, soup and canned tuna. My sausages, mince and chicken went in the fridge along with value spuds and carrots. My kitchen is a mangetout* free zone. Hubby’s only concession to extravagance was a couple of bottles of good red wine which had 50% off along with some Jaffa Cakes and a string bag of satsumas.
Not convinced that swapping pork fillet for pork sausages was the answer to my stringent household budget I was even more cheesed off the following day as I awaited the heating engineer. Now anyone who knows me well would agree that skilled workmen and I do not go hand in hand. Something always occurs just to ensure that the experience is never mutually beneficial. I therefore did not hold out much hope for the man I had finally chosen for the job, however polite and reassuring he had seemed.
Well I needn’t have worried. He and his lovely Welsh sidekick arrived before I’d even put my drawers and were still there at 7.15 that night having only had a twenty minute break for lunch. They worked like troopers all day, efficiently and calmly. I’ve never witnessed anything like it. In the past when things haven’t exactly gone my way and I have felt the distinct need to throw a small tantrum, Hubby has always reciprocated with his infuriating old naval adage of ‘adapt and overcome’. Generally this heightens the tantrum and makes me spit feathers but here indeed were two men who seemed to live by that motto and thus any little hiccup was dealt with without any scratching of heads or sucking of teeth or indeed shaking of heads or more importantly the need to involve me. A flue was inserted into the roof without so much as tile cracking; the old boiler was picked up by a man, quite literally with a van. Pipes were exchanged and sexy, digital thermostats fitted. Carpets and floorboards were lifted and replaced and I just provided the tea, lots of it and Bob’s your uncle, job done! My chap even came back the following day just to give me a tutorial on how to work my new boiler’s controls. How about that for service? Very highly recommended.
Hubby returned home from work and was delighted, “Bloody hell Alice, you chose well. This boiler’s going to save us a lot in energy bills” and he kissed the top of my head. My dad is delighted too, not so much perhaps in splashing out three grand but by the fact that I have shut up about boilers at last and more notably, the chances of his grandchildren being poisoned by carbon monoxide as they sleep, has significantly reduced. My brother, God bless him came round and made all the right noises about my new toy but his heart wasn’t in it. “Thing is Alice, aside from the chest crushing anxiety of not having a salary I really like working there. I’ve been there ten years. I enjoy my job. My colleagues are my friends”. A heavy, black cloud came over the house and deluge fell outside. I gave him a hug. Car salesmen they say are ruthless. Well this one, believe me, ain’t.


Mary Alice said...

I am so sorry about your brother’s job. That is horribly anxiety provoking. The economy is bad all over I guess. We are seeing big increases in food prices here as well. I too, am turning into a meat stretching queen. We are combining trips, trying to limit our driving and certainly no more latte-foo-foo-chinos.....although I am figuring out how to make them at home. Necessity being the mother of invention.

Alice Band said...

The 'latte fund' is the hardest thing of all to give up. I have however bought myslef new clothes today, after my pink cotton skirt which I bought from a supermarket three years ago finally gave up the ghost. My new clothes are however in a size which one would expect Gilbert Grape's mother to wear - well, ok not quite but not quite 16 either!

Mary Alice said...

Oh don't worry, I expect we will get a lot thinner after we have to start walking to the market when the gasoline gets to expensive to run the car anymore!

enidd said...

poo, alice, enidd knows pretty much how your brother is feeling and it's not much fun. enidd and the man send him good vibes from san francisco.

Trudy said...

We are also waiting for the shoe to drop with regard to hubby's job. I can appreciate how nervous he is, but it does annoy me that, when I finally sit down after weeding, cooking, laundry, cleaning, tidying basement, etc and he has been in the chair all day recouperating from his "Cinco de Mayo" celebrations .... I am supposed to develop a clever resume at the drop of a hat or it will be my fault he can't find another job. Oh, well, it won't be the last time. Good luck to your brother.

Perhaps your husband will have you plant a garden and get a goat to make your own cheese? You could do that in your spare time, I'm sure.

Alice Band said...

enidd - vibes are being reciprocated x

Trudy - Hope things work out ok for you. Such a worry. Good idea regarding a garden, I shall get Hubby on to it immediately. He's an old goat anyway.

Anonymous said...

know what you mean about the sizes of new clothes - I am determined that I will be too small for them by the end of the summer! But how? I ain't walkin' anywhere and I love a drop of white wine at the end of a hard day.

tough for your brother - fingers crossed ....

I dunno, but isn't it time Hubby did a bit more than just defending this sceptr'd isle?


thefoodsnob said...

I'm sympahetic about the job, I still can't find anything since January and the weather is REALLY affecting my moods, too.
Luckily hubby generally doesn't care enough about what I buy, just the total at the end of the week.
I've gotten very frugal (found an Aldi here, which is new, thought I wouldn't buy half the 'food' they sell.)
I miss snowpeas too.


Sally Lomax said...

Glad the boiler works!!