Monday, July 09, 2007

Indefinite futures

We were supposed to move house the day after tomorrow. During a conversation with the builder yesterday, it rapidly became apparent that moving in, when there was still so much to do, was going to be a nightmare. We said we would try and get hold of the removal man to put things back. Today, the builder described it as "imperative" we did not move in. Unfortunately, we could not get hold of the removal man to tell him the move was imperatively off. Again. And would he mind moving us next week, or possibly the week after that or maybe sometime never? I had this vision of a large removal van turning up at the crack of dawn only for us to open a bedroom window and shout down: "Not today, thank you Milky." When we finally managed to touch base, Milky said he was charging us for Wednesday and that his next slot was in two weeks time unless he got a cancellation. Two weeks! Cancellation! What are the chances of a cancellation? Who cancels removal men? "Darling, I know we said we were moving. Well we're not. We will just live with the nice people who bought the house. They seemed fun, don't you think?" Obviously, "we" cancelled the removal men. Twice. But I cannot believe it happens that often. God. Two more weeks.

Maybe if I stopped wanting it so much, it would all come together. As it was, every time I walked into the cottage, I looked around and thought: "This is not going to get finished in time." But you do not want to seem like a panicky, depressive girly. You do not want to stick a finger in your mouth, twirl a curl round around and giggle nervously as a man tries to reach the finishing line. They do not like it. I was right though.

I think builders are natural optimists. They step through their own personal landscape of debris and chaos. They say: "I am really looking forward to getting stuck in to that big problem with the drains." They like banging their heads against brick walls. That way they get to knock them over. I am trying to keep it in "What's another week or two between friends?" perspective but I am desperate to stop squatting in the rented house. Ever since the boys dyed the kitchen carpet shocking pink, I have not been able to relax. Lately, I have not even wanted to get up on a morning. I have always been able to get up straight away. The last few weeks, I lie there until the children's screaming escalates to a pitch I cannot ignore. Then I get up and shout at whoever I see first. Victim or offender. I am not fussy. The only time I moved with the speed of light was one day last week when I heard my six-year-old tell the four-year-old: "Look. I have shaved my head." That got me up. Thank God, he was not entirely accurate. He had not shaved it. He had cut a large, sloping chunk out of the fringe. I cut the rest of it to match. It did not look that bad. Sometimes I think I should have been a hairdresser.

The whole process of getting back home is just taking so much time: packing or at least thinking about packing; endless fannying on about bits and bobs of furniture we have managed our entire lives without but which have become critically important to our happiness. Glamorous stuff like pan stackers and trivets. I mean "trivets". How have I managed all these years without a trivet? There was once a time when I did not even know what a trivet was. Ah. The innocence of youth. Then there is the Aga. All sorts of rituals appear necessary when a new Aga is installed. This afternoon, I spent several hours mopping down the sweat from the hulking brute. Normally, I would quite like that. But there was little return. I took up a slightly soapy cloth and washed it first. An hour later, the sweat was running from it. I tell you these things are very demanding. I expected something that would clean itself and do its share of the ironing. What do I get? A traditional "Mop me down and worship at my size". It does not even have any decent conversation. It just stands there saying: "Big aren't I?" over and over. Still, it is on now and it will keep the builders warm.

38 comments:

jane said...

I think you're absolutely right when you say that the more you want something, the less likely you are to get it. Sod's law and all that.

I bet it's really disappointing not to be moving when you were told you would. However, as my Mum always used to say, there's a reason for everything - though usually it's a mystery what that reason is until later.

Hope it all goes OK.

sunshine said...

Could you perhaps roll up a lovely down comforter and pillow, pack a delicious hamper of fried chicken and fruit and Chablis, and head up to the cottage each evening? Alone. Open the windows, listen to your familiar night sounds, and just be out by the time the builders et al arrive in the a.m.?

It would give the children such nice bonding time with their father...

laurie said...

did the builders say one more week?

then book those movers for two weeks. do it now. because when builders say one week, it's always two. it's always excactly twice as long as they say.

you'll be there yet, i promise.

(we lived with builders all last summer, from june until october. we got to know them very very well.)

Iota said...

Are you going to give your Aga a name? Khan, for example.

I Beatrice said...

What you really need here is Kevin Macleod!

If he were standing outside your cottage in one of his nice hats talking about integrity and perspective - well, you'd begin to see the integrity and perspective of it all, wouldn't you? And be quite prepared to wait another six months for the next update.

Or we would be anyway, watching the little drama unfolding on TV...

There are some things which are just too full of latent integrity to be hurried you see - I'm sure that's what your builders really have in mind.

Rivs said...

Chin up London.
There's a positive in everything, I myself am stuck in the epitome of market town chavness that is Banbury but have recently discovered that I have a fox visiting my garden and I'm entranced (I didn't see many foxes growing up in Byker!)

You could use this elongated stay at your rented home as inspiration for, ooh say a .. blog or something!!

Keep on keeping on wifey.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Here are words of wisdom. DO NOT EVER FORGET THEM. "Pain has no memory". I have just imparted the secret of life to you. Savour it!

Winchester whisperer said...

Pass the cancellation cost onto your builders and tell them that they'll have to pay it again if they're still not ready in 2 weeks

merry weather said...

Excuse me, I know I've gone, but I had to say that was hilarious...!
(I really am going now, still laughing)

Mopsa said...

A sweaty Aga? Mine doesn't sweat, but it does snore (quietly) and it also accumulates the grot of ages - a splash of this, a gloop of that, a chunk of the other. It's on a farm, in a farmhouse kitchen. It's allowed to get filthy and because it's so hot, the folks I feed from it don't drop like flies but build up their immunity. Leave the sweat - the young Aga will cope.

Kaycie said...

You'll be moving soon enough, but I know the waiting is terrible. Sending good thoughts your way.

@themill said...

Maybe the cancellation will arrive because someone else's builders won't have finished.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Won't the kids be on holiday when you're now due to move? There's always something! They'll have six whole weeks of "hunt the remote control".

Daniel said...

Regarding the previous post, you are so very brave to bring up the subject of religion. In America, you can't mention religion unless you know the person you are talking to; otherwise, you could get a punch in the nose, or a smack on the forehead with a Bible.

Also, what is an aga? Is it a speial breed of cat? Might it have something to do with water? (aga seems sort of Latinish for water). I will never get used to that strange language you all speak in the Brithish Ilses.

But aside from the language barrier, we are not so very different in America. You represent the mother country. It is nice to have mother to blame all our problems on.

You should take a look at the book "Main Street" by Sinclar Lewis. It is about a woman in 1920's Minnesota, who got married and moved to a small town, and what a difficult time she had. For the most part, it was pretty serious story, as though this is a real problem for some people.

It is in a different time and place than you, but I bet the circumstances may seem familiar.

aims said...

I see I'm not the only North American who doesn't really know what an Aga is...

I'm thinking it is what you call your cooker...and what we would call a stove.

However - why does an Aga 'sweat' or 'snore'?

Our stoves -with the oven on the inside and the burners on the top may make a person sweat - but mine has never sweated - ever..and it certainly doesn't snore.

Lastly - is it not 'summer' in the north? Why would the builders need heat at this time of the year?

Daniel said...

So an Aga is a stove? But it can't be because a stove wouldn't sweat or snore, unless of course sweat and snore also have different synonomous meanings, that we North Americans could not possibly imgagine? And why do you capitalize Aga? Maybe it is the name of the company that makes them, like we say Hoover for vacuum cleaner, or Fridgidare, for refriderator?

(Poor Wife. You're huddled in limbo with your little ones, waiting to move back home, and I'm worried about why is the mystery word, Aga, capitalized).

sunshine said...

Okay, folks in the American North -- I've just Googled Aga. Holy Cow!! Yes, it should clean and do the ironing, as well as watch the kids for the weekend!

Wifey, could you share the model number/type so we can all actually see your new household member? They look sort of comparable to our very professional, high-end Vikings. I have a normal GE.

If I had an Aga or Viking, I would feel guilty about ever going out to a restaurant, or not having guests every single night!

The thinker said...

What a marvellous idea - Aga Khan -good one. I am sooo envious - a pantry and an AGA. I agree - we all want the sordid details of size, shape, colour and fuel type that powers the beastie. I expect it is 'sweating' as it's not yet built up to its full working capacity. It is probably helping to dry out your 'new' house - all that dampness from plastering etc -not to mention all the weeks of rainfall. When the Aga is so hot as to sizzle any cloth that goes near it it will probably have stopped sweating. Big green SIGH.
I hope you've a couple of dogs and a cat to loll in front of this AGA when you finally get to move in.

Daniel said...

I found it on the internet, too. That's some stove, you got there. I bet you could even dock it with the International Space Station.

Norman said...

What with everything going wrong with your move plus the whole saga the rebuilding project, connect that with yesterday,s Roman Catholic references and I am reminded of an entry in Teresa of Avila's diary when she suffered similar setbacks trying to get her new nunnery started. It reads, "Dear God, no wonder you have so few friends when you treat the faithful so!". She wrote that in the fifteenth century.
The Law of Murphy goes back even that far.
Hang on in there!

@themill said...

Daniel and Aims - an Aga is THE essential for life in Northumberland (especially in the summer when you need at least one warm room most of the time)

aims said...

okay - I looked it up too....I just don't understand why it 'sweats'....

Perhaps as - the thinker says - it's just getting up to it's full potential...

Apparently - we don't know how to cook properly in North America...

sunshine said...

Aims -- I had thought that if Wifey's AGA was a previously owned one, then - like a woman of a certain age - it might be suffering hot flashes. That would explain the sweating, but not the snoring. Everyone knows that sleeping (and thus, snoring) does not accompany the state of hot flashing! What do the English call "hot flashes"?

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Sunshine - we call those warm moments "hot flushes" but I guess just the same we spend a lot of time opening and closing windows, throwing off the duvet then clawing it back two seconds later and getting a bit sweaty, rather like WITN's Aga. The difference being that everyone still loves an Aga even with condensation dribbling down it's front, which is more than can be said about me. :(

Best wishes, Jane.

Guess who said...

When my Aga was fitted I left it alone.

It's big enough to look after itself and will soon realise that there's no point in sweating and whining if it's ignored. It will then behave.

expatmum said...

For everyone in north America - you can definitely get the Aga, even at home Depot. It's not cheap and if you live in a house with a basement, and the kithen isn't in the basement, you will probably have to have your floors reinforced. We have lots of people in Chicago grappling with the emormity of a kosher Aga, and they usually opt for the Aga - lite. They are very hot in the summer though.
Just spreading a little UK/US info here :-).

expatmum said...

Sorry about the spelling - must cut my nails!

mutterings and meanderings said...

US readers, haven't you realised this blog is a quintessential 'Aga Saga'?

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I've never wanted to join the AGA set, but then again I don't live in Northumberland. WITN, the rule with builders is they have a fear of closure. This isn't just British builders. It's a worldwide trait. Just as they're getting very close to finishing with your house, suddenly everything slooooowwws down. They have other jobs to do at other houses that take precedence over yours. They don't show up till 10 because they were at the builder's yard at 8 to get some part or materials for your house. They leave at 2 on Fridays because that's the day they go to the pub. And you don't mess with the day they go to the pub, removal men or no. Go with the kids (and let them scream loudly) and tell the builders you're not leaving till they give you a definite move-in date.

Strickley said...

I could not live without our Aga. It cooks, heats the water and warms the house when it's too warm to light a fire, but too cold to do without one.
It's been here longer than me (8th February 1950 - I have the 10 year guarantee) and no doubt will see me out.
All it needs is filling and riddling twice a day,ashes emptying twice a week and letting out for a thorough service twice a year. My husband takes care of all that (he can remember it being installed so he's more qualified than me). All I have to do is cook, or just lean on it.

Bramblehead said...

Just wait till your children discover the Aga. I used to throw sugar on my mothers's. Watching the sugar jump, spit and blacken on the hotplate was just too tempting when I was left alone in the kitchen. But your children sound much cleverer and more imaginative than I ever was so who knows what they'll come up with.

sunshine said...

Strickley -- Filling? Riddling? Emptying ashes? I have worked long and hard at establishing myself as the highest maintenance item in this home. It sounds like an Aga would quickly usurp my honored position.

My GE? Turn it on, turn it off, wipe the mess off its slick glass top, and pour another glass of chardonnay --

rilly super said...

the aga is essential for anyone even contemplating travel north of the M62. You'd think everyone knew that, sigh

by the way wifey, who is this Rufford chap that somebody thinks is me? Is he a friend of yours?

Daniel said...

This "Aga" thing is a very suprising new discovery. I had never even dreamed or conceived of such a contraption. I had asssumed that life in the modern age was probably just about the same in all modern places. So, just what else is going on there, that we, in the rest of the world, don't know about? mmmmm?

Norman said...

Ah, AGA memories. Halton-Lea-Gate in upper South Tynedale. When I lived there we needed the AGA every day of the year. Proper hot summer days didn't exist then. Advantages of AGA is continuous hot water, kettle always on, so impromptu brews anytime and lots of baking. Shame to waste the oven. Anyway, apart from the local in-village store, the nearest shops were in Haltwhistle or for proper shopping it was Hexham or Carlisle over 20 miles away.
The downside of having an AGA, it needs constant fuelling (unless its an oil burner) and you need to learn its little ways.
AGAs are like people, - each one different.
Now? I live in Lancaster. South of Shap. Its far too civilized!

rilly super said...

the reason the insurance bill for the recent floods in Hull was so high was that everyone had an aga. You should have seen the TV news pictures, street after street of terraced houses and council estates with waterlogged agas dumped on the pavement or in skips. It's enough to make you cry, sob. This is why these people need so much help, they can't manage without them...

The thinker said...

Don't be so cruel Rilly - you'll have us poor southern Agaless folk rushing up the M5/6 just to adopt a poor wet Aga - carry it home and nurture it back to life.

Sandra Montgomery said...

Haven't any of you North Americans ever read Rosamunde Pilcher? That is where I first learned of the essential Aga. (If you live anywhere near Seattle there is a great used bookstore called Half Price Books where I got all mine when I lived there for three years).

Maybe my grannie had one when I lived in England, in Yorkshire... I don't know. I was too young to remember.

If I ever move back to England I want a rose strewn cottage with an Aga and a woman who comes in once a week to clean.

In my dreams...

Sandra in Canada