Just how grim can it get up north? (Actually, it's quite nice.) One woman's not-so-lonely journey into the Northern heartlands.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Good cop; bad cop
It is less than a week till we move back into the cottage. It is difficult to believe it will all be ready. I do not think I helped when I asked the builders to move the bath they had just installed. They went off me a bit then I think. I walked into the bathroom and the roll top bath was pressed against the wall as if it had a crush on it. It looked terrible. Admittedly, the builders did ask me whether I wanted it to stand away from the wall or against it. I might have said: "Against it." I did not mean obscenely pressed against it, right against it, up against it. I did not mean for the bath to make a show of herself. I meant more of a casually, in the vicinity, if you happen to be passing then feel free to call in "against it". It is in fact not just the bath which is up against it, it is the builders. I thought about not saying anything. I always think about not saying anything. Then I climbed into the bath and realised you could not rest your elbow on the side or put your hand on the bath to lever yourself up. I thought: "Every time I have a bath I am going to think: 'This over-priced bath is far too close to that newly plastered wall in a bathroom I have just paid good money for and which I hoped would be perfect because it is costing enough to be perfect'." I said to the builder: "Slight problem." He was incredibly calm about it bearing in mind the plumbers had only just finished plumbing it all in. Sometimes though, I think my husband should have these conversations without me. The wrong insulation on the spec. My husband said: "You talk to the architect. He likes you." The mixer tap arrived bent and the taps arrived without their "Hot" and "Cold" buttons. My husband said: "You ring them." The Aga was installed surprisingly far from the wall. My husband said: "You talk to them." I say: "Why do I always have to be the bad guy." He looks at me with puppy dog eyes. "You know how I hate confrontation" he says, throwing down the nice guy card and sweeping up the chips. He wins both ways. I confront. The situation changes. For the better. For the both. He hands me a bullet for the gun, hands me a bullet belt for better rat-a-tat. I fire and in between their ragged, bloody gasps the wounded think: "I don't know how that nice bloke puts up with that stroppy baggage." My husband then will kindly smile down upon their suffering faces, uncork his canteen of water to wet their dry and cracked lips; then straighten up, beckon over his armoured wife, point, smile again and say: "This one's not dead yet."
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My husband (whom I love very much, I'd just like to point out, lest anyone think otherwise) does a similar nice line in passive/aggressive avoidance techniques as well. We more or less divvied up all our traits when we got together and parcelled them out. I got lumbered with confrontation, which I'm not even very good at, it makes me all shaky and upset, while he got to be peace-maker and diplomat. I obviously missed a trick or several. It seems impossible to reverse the situation now.
I think somewhere in our original wedding vows there was something about me always being the bad guy and him always being sparkly. I'm a little tired of it actually...
All good stuff Wifey. My marriage works in a similar fashion, my wife makes all of the small decisions and I make all of the big ones - mind you, we've never had a big decision to make yet!
Oh, great stuff - and I think you were quite right to stick out over the bath. You're not likely to see much of builders or architects after next week after all, but that bath - well, that you're going to be stuck with for life more or less!
As husbands go though (and yes, I do love mine dearly too)... a resolutely confrontational one isn't all that great to live with either, you know...
All the very best for the move next week.
Absolutely right. "Every time I have a bath..." It had to be moved, no question. Once the builders have gone, you're stuck with it. Good luck moving in!
Interesting lifestyle to choose for someone who dislikes confrontation!
men seem to dislike direct confrontation - I even have to return unwanted/faulty goods to the shops.
More willing to punch - but that's spontaneous usually, isn't it?
Good Luck with move.
My marriage works much the same way, but hubby seems to have a keen sense to tell him when it is all just too much for me. When that happens, he steps right up and takes control. That always leaves me thinking, "Now, why can't he do that all the time?"
Stroppy baggage is good. Consider the alternative of wet wimp, unsatisfied customer and indecisive feeble one. Taking control now is good - next week might be too late. Enjoy your moment.
It's a story as old as time, or at least as old as expensive building coversions. Our builders and roofers always waited until I was out to ask my husband for more money "on account". They'd tried it with me and failed because I'd noticed the relationship between handing over more money and their disappearance for a couple of days immediately afterwards - maybe to another job, or more likely an urgent appointment with Sky TV and the local pub.
They'd got me labelled as the bolshy one, but what I couldn't understand was why my husband would rather give in to them and subsequently face the inevitably scorn I would pour on him for letting them fleece him.
We eventually got all our work finished but the negotiations would have stood me in good stead for a job at the UN, such were the politics involved.
Life's too short to be intimidated by builders, after all, you're paying them.
This is so true.
I have to make all the phonecalls and deal with all the emails when stuff needs to get done in the Beaufoix household.
I thought men were meant to be the tough ones.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're not, but it would be nice not to be the one who has to arrange everything, change everything and complain about everything.
Phew, now I feel better.
You have me confused. Your husband wants to be in Northumberland, you don't, but you are. You don't like confrontation, but you do it because your husband wants you to. Have I missed something really important here?
BTW - I have stroppy baggage off to perfection. It gets things done.
My husband is a builderinthenorth, of the non-confrontational kind. So I have to put up with the moans when he comes home from a job that would have been finished 2 weeks ago, except for the client wanting 'extras' or changes, which he does without complaint.
Then I have to explain to the client why the final bill is bigger than the original estimate, while placating the next 2 clients who were expecting him 2 weeks ago ...
Still, I absolutely agree that bath had to move!
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