annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Day 218

At the bottom of this entry I've added a bit from Three Men in a Boat, published in 1889 (and therefore out of copyright), which makes me laugh and I hope will make you laugh too. It's another world, with servants and large families...

Today I almost managed to clear out the little room, art room, studio, whatever it's called. I ran out of steam about half an hour before I was done and managed another fifteen minutes then quit. I have to swap the table in there for this desk as the radiator is being moved from that wall to this, so we can have a wall of narrow bookshelves, floor to ceiling, and then M can lay the carpet in here. It's been like a riddle, working out what the first task was in this messy house. M laid the carpet in the hall, but this room is full of crap. It's all mine as well, Bloke doesn't own anything that isn't digital. A few books, before he went to Kindle, but not many.

I'm getting rid of the Ikea Billy bookcases which have done sterling service for almost thirty years but are too deep and take up too much room. I will have to go through and get rid of loads of books - I don't know what to do with them as charity shops aren't taking them at the moment and I can't bring myself to just chuck them out. I don't know where to pile them up either. Still, I did work out where to start and cracked on. Those Billy bookcases haven't gone up in price since we got these in the early 90s and they were cheap then. We'd had an Ikea kitchen which looked great but was a nightmare to buy - their customer service doesn't exist, one reason they're cheap, and I swore I'd never shop there again. So when we wanted bookcases I spent what felt like months, pre-internet, trawling round everywhere, driving all over Sussex looking for something decent but all I could find was shite, horrible, flimsy, overly fancy, expensive shite, nothing under £100 when the Billy was £55, or several hundred pounds for something decent. So I gave in - they're solid and plain and cheap enough. We have six of them, well, six and a half and they're excellent value but too big. I don't want my books doubled up any more.

Tomorrow the blokes who are doing the gutters and driveway are arriving at 8, with a skip (dumpster in USian?) so I'm having an early night. I'm reading (JK Rowling as) Robert Galbraith's new one which I seem to have been reading forever. I like her characters - I only read one and a half Potters but I like Robin and Strike, but Jesus, get on with it, woman. This is the longest book ever. I think what she does is, say for example they go to a witness's house to interview them, instead of cutting to the chase, she includes all the faff, all the boring bits of everyday life and common civility that we don't need in fiction - OK, I know, I know, this blog is nothing but everyday faff, but I'm not getting paid a gazillion squids for writing it and you haven't paid £9.99 to read it. So far there's been nothing that would warrant the accusations of tr4nsphobia - see, I even disguise the word. There is a serial killer and he has been described as dressing as a women to get close enough to his victims to trap them, but so far he's only been presented as a cis man who is fucking vile and repellent and will stop at nothing, not with any suggestion that he is trans gender or tranvestite. I don't know what JK did to set The Telegraph on her case like that - total misrepresentation as far as I can see. Though let's face it, she doesn't need defending by the likes of me. And I haven't finished it so maybe worse is to come.

Three things I am grateful for today:
1. A plan to go to Sheffield Park this week. Not, alas, real Sheffield and too late anyway as L is no longer there, but a big National Trust garden, landscaped with lakes and that.
2. Bloke finishing off the dinner - I made the stew and he did the veg. Good, I was knackered by then.
3. Lovely yin yoga, always so soothing and relaxing. I love it and hope to do it for the rest of my life.

Anyway, if you're still here, maybe you'll like Uncle Podger. Night night.

"You never saw such a commotion up and down a house, in all your life, as when my Uncle Podger undertook to do a job. A picture would have come home from the frame-maker's, and be standing in the dining-room, waiting to be put up; and Aunt Podger would ask what was to be done with it, and Uncle Podger would say:

"Oh, you leave that to me. Don't you, any of you, worry yourselves about that. I'll do all that."

And then he would take off his coat, and begin. He would send the girl out for sixpenny worth of nails, and then one of the boys after her to tell her what size to get; and, from that, he would gradually work down, and start the whole house.

"Now you go and get me my hammer, Will," he would shout; "and you bring me the rule, Tom; and I shall want the step-ladder, and I had better have a kitchen-chair, too; and, Jim! You run round to Mr. Goggles, and tell him, 'Pa's kind regards, and hopes his leg's better; and will he lend him his spirit-level?' And don't you go, Maria, because I shall want somebody to hold me the light; and when the girl comes back, she must go out again for a bit of picture-cord; and Tom!—where's Tom?—Tom, you come here; I shall want you to hand me up the picture."

And then he would lift up the picture, and drop it, and it would come out of the frame, and he would try to save the glass, and cut himself; and then he would spring round the room, looking for his handkerchief. He could not find his handkerchief, because it was in the pocket of the coat he had taken off, and he did not know where he had put the coat, and all the house had to leave off looking for his tools, and start looking for his coat; while he would dance round and hinder them.

"Doesn't anybody in the whole house know where my coat is? I never came across such a set in all my life—upon my word I didn't. Six of you!—and you can't find a coat that I put down not five minutes ago! Well, of all the—"

Then he'd get up, and find that he had been sitting on it, and would call out:

"Oh, you can give it up! I've found it myself now. Might just as well ask the cat to find anything as expect you people to find it."

And, when half an hour had been spent in tying up his finger, and a new glass had been got, and the tools, and the ladder, and the chair, and the candle had been brought, he would have another go, the whole family, including the girl and the charwoman, standing round in a semi-circle, ready to help. Two people would have to hold the chair, and a third would help him up on it, and hold him there, and a fourth would hand him a nail, and a fifth would pass him up the hammer, and he would take hold of the nail, and drop it.

"There!" he would say, in an injured tone, "now the nail's gone."

And we would all have to go down on our knees and grovel for it, while he would stand on the chair, and grunt, and want to know if he was to be kept there all the evening.

The nail would be found at last, but by that time he would have lost the hammer.

"Where's the hammer? What did I do with the hammer? Great heavens! Seven of you, gaping round there, and you don't know what I did with the hammer!"

We would find the hammer for him, and then he would have lost sight of the mark he had made on the wall, where the nail was to go in, and each of us had to get up on the chair, beside him, and see if we could find it; and we would each discover it in a different place, and he would call us all fools, one after another, and tell us to get down. And he would take the rule, and re-measure, and find that he wanted half thirty-one and three-eighths inches from the corner, and would try to do it in his head, and go mad.

And we would all try to do it in our heads, and all arrive at different results, and sneer at one another. And in the general row, the original number would be forgotten, and Uncle Podger would have to measure it again.

He would use a bit of string this time, and at the critical moment, when the old fool was leaning over the chair at an angle of forty-five, and trying to reach a point three inches beyond what was possible for him to reach, the string would slip, and down he would slide on to the piano, a really fine musical effect being produced by the suddenness with which his head and body struck all the notes at the same time.

And Aunt Maria would say that she would not allow the children to stand round and hear such language.

At last, Uncle Podger would get the spot fixed again, and put the point of the nail on it with his left hand, and take the hammer in his right hand. And, with the first blow, he would smash his thumb, and drop the hammer, with a yell, on somebody's toes.

Aunt Maria would mildly observe that, next time Uncle Podger was going to hammer a nail into the wall, she hoped he'd let her know in time, so that she could make arrangements to go and spend a week with her mother while it was being done.

"Oh! You women, you make such a fuss over everything," Uncle Podger would reply, picking himself up. "Why, I like doing a little job of this sort."

And then he would have another try, and, at the second blow, the nail would go clean through the plaster, and half the hammer after it, and Uncle Podger be precipitated against the wall with force nearly sufficient to flatten his nose.

Then we had to find the rule and the string again, and a new hole was made; and, about midnight, the picture would be up—very crooked and insecure, the wall for yards round looking as if it had been smoothed down with a rake and everybody dead beat and wretched—except Uncle Podger.

"There you are," he would say, stepping heavily off the chair on to the charwoman's corns, and surveying the mess he had made with evident pride. "Why, some people would have had a man in to do a little thing like that!" "

10:18 p.m. - 18.10.20


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