The Kitchen Workmen

Photo by Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

Well, here I am, trapped upstairs in my office whilst down below all manner of hell is let loose. The Hounds of Hades are obviously being chased around the place by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse accompanied by any number of chinless idiots in fancy dress, blowing horns and yelling ‘Tally ho!’ Somewhere below me, men are mending things, but very, very noisily. There is a lot of hammering going on with, from the sound of it, Thor’s very own lump-hammer. I thought that they were fitting a new kitchen. It sounds as though they are knocking a wall out. Maybe knocking everything else out, and just leaving the wall standing. I have no electricity and no water – and, therefore, no coffee. Life is bleak.

I cannot go downstairs to see what is going on, because:
1. I will be in the way
2. I cannot offer to make coffee for them as there is neither water, gas or electric with which to do it
3. They will therefore know that I have only gone downstairs to see what is going on
4. They might ask me to make a decision
5. They will humour me.

I have my little Bluetooth keyboard and my phone. They will last a while. I can communicate. I can record my thoughts. So, I sit up here, listening to sporadic peals of laughter, and I watch the ripples spread across the surface of my fast diminishing orange squash resource as my pen does the Dance of the Seven Veils across the desktop. I hope that the bangs sound of such magnitude simply because they are amplified by the fabric of the house. I hope that the house still has some fabric. I begin to wonder whether they are actually engaged in a clandestine search for Otto Lidenbrock – using my kitchen for cover whilst they blast their way down to the centre of the planet. I dare not venture out onto the staircase in case the stairs now descend far below the hallway and into the very bowels of the Earth. In my head I hear snatches of Rick Wakeman. There could be an Ice Spectacular in this…

You see, I’m not used to it – having things done for me – but it seemed like a good time to get something done properly for a change. Time for shelves to be hung level without having one end propped up on a folded beer mat. Time for an extractor that doesn’t sound as if it’s got consumption. Time for cupboard doors to open without the need for two hands. Time for drawers to open without having to empty them first. It’s a false economy to try and do it all, I counselled myself; especially when that usually requires somebody to come along afterwards and put it all right again. You’re getting older – and you weren’t much cop in the first place, truth be told. Best to let somebody else do it. Somebody who knows what they are doing. Somebody who has their own tools. Somebody who doesn’t have to Google how to use them. Just change a few units, possibly the flooring, maybe just the odd electrical socket…

The ceiling came down yesterday. It didn’t just fall you understand, it was meant to do it. It makes accessing the wires much easier apparently. Who’d have thought that putting up a new one was so straightforward? I have tried to put plaster on the wall. It never ends up where I put it. At least, not for long. It usually ends up on my shoe or in a forlorn pile on the carpet. Whoever imagined that you can put plaster onto a ceiling quickly and perfectly in no time, whilst listening to Steve Wright on the radio? (I think that there must be a course at college to teach you how to find Steve Wright amusing. I have never found that skill myself. Finding laughs in banal repetition is a feat which I fear I may never accomplish.) Concentration of that order, in the face of self-congratulatory radio-borne whittering, is an accomplishment that is so far beyond the realms of my very own particular skill-set, that I can barely imagine what it must feel like.

Anyhow, I can paint it – the ceiling that is – at the weekend apparently. I can’t wait. All that new flooring to drip on – how could I resist? I will cover everything in dust sheets up to a depth of several inches before endeavouring to find the only uncovered centimetre with a giant drip of emulsion. In this, I know, I will succeed. I will notice it too late and, in my attempts to wipe it up, spread it to the size of a dinner plate. I will not notice the gloss paint on the sole of my shoe – until it is no longer on the sole of my shoe…

And, ah, they have just come up the stairs to find me. They do need me to make a decision. I do not make decisions – especially re. kitchens. Where do we want the shelves to go? Can I leave it to you? No? Erm…

I have been decisive. I have shown them where I think the shelves should go. They have smiled. They have put pencil marks on the wall. I think they will put them where they think they should go. I think they will be right.

Next week, they do fit the new units. They will be here again on my next day off – although, hopefully, they will not need to block my use of all utilities on that occasion. If they do, I may well whinge about it again next week. If they do not… well, let’s be honest, either way I will be sitting up here, painfully aware of the fact that other than making coffee and handing out biscuits, I have very little to bring to the party, and they will be down there, aware of the same. I could go and tell them a joke, but let’s face it, I’m no Steve Wright…

Steve Wright, the BBC Radio 2 DJ, by the way, is in no way related to Steven Wright, the American Comedian who should be grateful.

Don’t worry about the world ending today: it’s already tomorrow in Australia. Steven Wright.