Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Black Hole.

The music had to be faced. The key had to turn in the lock, I had to venture forth, walk into the sitting room and look up. For the first time ever, I welcomed a traffic jam on the M5, anything to delay coming home and dealing with reality, so, as another hold up lengthened the journey by another hour, I put the car into neutral, opened a bag of fat free Jelly Babies, relaxed and turned the wireless up.
Finally, having dropped my eldest daughter’s friend off, I couldn’t avoid going home any longer and with feet of lead I dragged myself up my front steps and into my house. Hubby had arrived earlier and cut me off in the dining room with forced bonhomie.
“Alice love! You’re home!” he said, crushing me against his chest in a very enthusiastic bear hug, “Now it’s not as bad as you imagine it to be, honestly. We’ll soon have it spick and span!” Was the thought of his wife losing her marbles over a fallen ceiling oddly transforming Hubby into some sort of mental health nurse? Was this why he was adopting this bizarre and very practical no-nonsense hospital jargon? Was he going to ask me to ‘pop onto the sofa’ next?
“Let me be the judge of that”, I said dully and extricating myself from his embrace I walked past him. The whole family seemed to hold its breath in unison as I quietly entered the sitting room and finally, allowed myself to look up. Horse hair, ancient strips of timber, rusty nails and jagged bits of plaster resolutely stared back. A weird little sound was expelled from my lips and my six year old guided me to the sofa where I sat down, speechless.
“I’ll make her a cup of tea”, said my son, scarpering.
“I’ll help you”, said his oldest sister.
“It’s ok mummy”, added my six year old, stroking my arm, “We can fix it”. Unfortunately, the words ‘can we fix it’, no matter in what order, is a phrase associated, as any parent or grandparent will attest, to that loveable, animated odd-job man the under fives adore. So, before you could say “Yes we can”, the Red-Head had embarked upon a frenzied medley of Bob the Builder Tunes, until my nerves, unable to tolerate any more, finally shattered and I started to sob. The Red-Head was immediately removed from the scene, protesting vehemently, then Hubby, having appeased her with a DVD, returned and sat next to me. He took my hand.
“Don’t worry about it love”, he said soothingly, “We’ll get it sorted. The insurance company are coming tomorrow and then it’ll be just a question of formalities”. I sobbed even louder.
“That’s what I thought before”, I hiccoughed, “When our bedroom ceiling fell down. But they wouldn’t give us a penny”.
“Well you shouldn’t make a habit of losing your ceilings!” I looked up to find Mags, as brown as a nut, holding a box of wine and three wine glasses, “Thought you might be in need of something medicinal” she said, inserting her finger into the cardboard with aplomb, before expertly extracting the little tap. Cool white wine flowed into my glass and down my throat like an elixir.
“Thanks”, I sniffed, “That’s lovely”. My son and daughter entered at that moment carrying a tray of mugs.
“Guess you won’t be wanting these then?” asked my son, miffed his efforts had gone unrewarded.
Mags shrugged her shoulders, “Doctors order I’m afraid love”, then she rummaged into her large, crumpled, leather bag and removed a packet of custard creams, “Help yourself. Dunk them into the tea”. Custard Creams, my son’s biscuit du choix. He beamed, instantly mollified, “Cheers Mags, that’s a magic bag!”
After two and a half glasses and little, other than a few chubby Jelly Babies all day, the wine soon had its effect, “You see”, I slurred, using my glass to indicate, “That, that thing up there in my ceiling is like a metaphorical Black Hole where the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull after having fallen past its event horizon.” There was a silence until Hubby chipped in.
“She gets like this when she’s had a few, it’s a phenomenon, it’s as though she’s being channeled by Stephen Hawking”.
“I can think of dishier men I’d liked to be channeled by”, quipped Mags.
The following morning as I rummaged around for some horse sized ibuprofen the door bell rang. A dour man, holding a clipboard to his chest, introduced himself as the insurance surveyor. I let him in and called for Hubby to “deal with it”. As I gulped my pill down, my son, half asleep, appeared in the kitchen.
“How long does it take to wash and dry a pair of jeans?” he asked.
“About two hours. Why? Off to see Divine Love?”
“I haven’t seen her for a week mum” he blushed, “So? Can I shove my jeans in then?”
“You’ve talked and texted her incessantly though. Go on then, if you gather all the rest of the laundry I’ll wash them, I’m not putting a cycle on for one item”. Leaving him to hunt and gather dirty washing I picked up the post. Most of it was birthday cards for my eldest daughter, now officially a teenager but I absent mindedly opened a mobile phone bill. My son’s, whose monthly contract of £15 is paid by us. Only it wasn’t £15 it was £93. I gripped the kitchen counter. At that moment the surveyor, a camera around his neck like a tourist, declared, “Of course I see you don’t have AD added to your policy”.
“AD?” Hubby asked.
“Accidental damage”, he replied smiling, with not a little hint of schadenfreude.
“We don’t?” stammered Hubby.“You do not”. I was way past the event horizon. The Black Hole was pulling me ever deeper in.


Anonymous said...

Channeling Stephen Hawking, ROTFL!
And Bob the Builder, no less. (I'd rather channel SH than BtB.)

Mags is hereby nominated for best friend in the world.

Can I drop-kick your insurance guy through the goalpost of life? Because really, how does a collapsed ceiling merit the title of AD??

Eloise said...

Oh, Alice! What a rotten ending. I was so hopeful that things were going to be looking up by the time I read to the bottom of your post. Hang in there. Maybe that insurance adjuster will get fired for incompetence and new person will come out and pay you big bucks for a new ceiling.

Alice Band said...

Thankyou both of you for leaving a kind message, alas the insurance bastards care not a jot and soemwhere or other I have to fund a new ceiling. I am not a happy bunny..

DL said...

I'm as confused as you are about the insurance man. After all, if you're not covered for an incident like this, what on earth are you covered for? If they won't pay for "accidental damage", would they instead pay if you did it on purpose?

We've so far (Sal and I) had only slightly more limited experience of the expanding phone bill phenomenon. So far, true love seems to have eluded our three teenagers.