Friday, 22 April 2011


“But I just want to get on Alice”, whined Hubby, rubbing his ‘leave period’ unshaven chin in frustration.
“Carpe diem darling, carpe diem”.
“Huh?” Latin is not one of Hubby’s strengths and were I utterly truthful, neither is it mine. I went to an average comprehensive and was put in a stream where the teachers felt that our little brains would fry if, along with science and algebra and our rampaging hormones, Latin verbs were thrown into the mix. They were probably quite right. I for one had bigger fish to fry than my brain at that age, snogging my 6th form boyfriend at break-time being one of them. Still, carpe diem is a Hallmark card classic. Surely everyone knows what it means?
“Seize the day darling, seize the day”.
“Your dad has just invested in a state of the art lawn mower and strimmer. I want to get on and cut the grass. The garden looks like the upper reaches of the Limpopo and to use your proverbial parlance, I want to ‘make hay while the sun shines’”.
There were many points that I wanted to make here, namely, a state of the art lawn mower is an oxymoron unless it’s a tractor; the upper reaches of the Limpopo is a river and is thus not analogous to an overgrown back garden in South East Cornwall; and lastly, to make hay while the sun shines is metaphoric . This last point I articulated.
“It does not literally mean to cut the grass and make hay just because it is a sunny day. What it actually implies is ‘Go to the beach with your wife and family as it’s a glorious day and, as this is England, tomorrow the weather will probably be crap. Ergo, perfect for lawn mowing, less ideal for a bucket and spade and a beer in the Devonport, Kingsand’”. This last point had the most effect and within half an hour a bag was packed and we’d spread out our rug on the pebbley beach, the children were in 7th heaven as was Hubby waving at me from the railings outside the pub, a pint of Skinner’s latest brew in his hand, fashionably named, ‘Kate loves Willy’.
The following day was grey. I detest the colour grey. Other than a warship and a marl, cashmere dressing gown that I wish I owned, the colour has little to recommend it.
Hubby however, on leave and an eager beaver, was out of the house just past the crack of dawn and keen to play with Dad’s new toy. ‘State of the art? My arse!’ As soon as he pressed the on switch it sounded as though CORMAC, the asphalt and macadam specialists were laying a B road in my garden.
We all vibrated in our beds. A sleepy Red-Head walked into my room rubbing her eyes,
“Is there an earthquake mummy?”, she asked.
“No sweetie”, I replied, “Just daddy cutting the grass”. He was like a man possessed. It was pointless trying to sleep.
We all got up and dressed and by the time most normal people during a holiday period are contemplating the first coffee of the day, Hubby had advanced from mowing to strimming, which, if at all possible, was even noisier. Bits of wood and bark were of no consequence to him. With that tool in his hands he was indomitable. The girls were too scared to go outside lest they be floored by flying debris. The cats and the dog cowered behind the cat-flap peering through it, wondering what on earth had possessed their master to brandish a machine that was destroying their natural habitat faster than any multi-national conglomerate with little regard for destroying swathes of the Brazilian rain forest. And me, a card carrying member of Greenpeace.
Eventually and with an Errol Flynn style, thigh slapping, flourish, Hubby desisted. He looked very pleased with himself. “There”, he said, hands on hips, surveying his bald lawn. The children and I looked at each other nervously. Hubby was obviously a man on a mission. His ability to relax when on leave is notoriously unmanageable. The man needs a project. Before you could say B&Q, I heard myself uttering, “The bathroom needs decorating”.
Already blue and white, we meandered around that orange DIY superstore looking for paint and decided on scarlet for the walls. To ‘dress’ the bathroom , I picked up a red, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ cushion for the Lloyd loom chair and on the way home insisted on stopping at TK Max for red towels. They didn’t have any, but what they did have and what I found I couldn’t live without, was an enormous, distressed style, union flag mirror. Debenhams provided the towels, a red bath rug and some red, pillar candles. I was very pleased with my purchases. Hubby less so. He’d stayed in the car with the girls, assuming, rather erroneously as it transpired, that buying a bale of red towels would take approximately seven minutes. By the time I’d lugged the mirror and the other wrist cutting carrier bags up Royal Parade my arm had seized and Hubby had to unclasp the mirror from my crooked clasp.
A day later and the bathroom was finished. It is dressed to perfection. I invited Mags to the official unveiling. She was very quiet.
“Don’t you like it?” I asked, hurt.
She surveyed the red, white and blue; the union-flag mirror, the patriotic propaganda cushion and said, “In the words of Lloyd Grossman, ‘Who lives in a house like this?’”
Nick, who is very much at home here these days, popped his head in and quipped “Alice, it’s over to you”.
I’ll concede that with a bit of bunting it may well look as though I’ve taken the Royal Wedding pageant to heart, but one can’t argue though that it gives the euphemism, ‘on the throne’ a far deeper resonance.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Loved the punchline!