Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Wrong Thing

Sometimes you just can't get things right. Case in point. It's the school half-term holiday and Polly took the boys out shopping, leaving me in blissful solitude to respond to emails and... er, play Scrabble on Facebook. So there I am, up to my eyes in vowels and a solitary K, when the door bell rang.

I say rang, but in actual fact our door bell doesn't exactly ring, it blasts a high pitched shriek at an ear-bleeding volume via an intercom speaker system in several rooms at the same time. It was installed when we first moved in, and because someone, somewhere heard that I was disabled they naturally assumed I was stone deaf and wouldn't be able to hear anything less than 110 decibels. I answered the door via the aforementioned intercom. The intercom is, of course, placed just out of reach, but never mind, I have a clever little gadget called a Possum that can communicate with the intercom which in turn communicates with the door entry system. Never use a door knob when a £1000 of electronics will do.

At the door was a cheerful Italian man carrying a length of co-axil cable and a tool box. “I hava come to connect your TV to the newa TV aerial, SeƱor.” He waved an ID badge at me and asked, “Where you wanna the socket?” I remembered Polly shouting something about him coming just as she left, children in tow. I showed him where some previous engineers had left cables running from the new communal aerial. He took out an enormous power drill, looked first at me, then the wheelchair and finally at the wall. “I willa put it here,” he said indicating to a point on the wall. “It willa be at the righta height for you to reacha.” Very thoughtful I thought and let him get on with it.

Several minutes of drilling later, a white socket has been fitted to the wall about 90cm from the floor, adjacent to the bookcase in the corner. Perfect.

Then Polly came home. One glance, and 15 years of experience told me I'd done something very wrong even before she opened her mouth. “And you thought that that was a good place for it, did you?” Italian engineer man, sensing a change of atmosphere, packs up his equipment and exits post-haste. “ You needa anything moved you phone the office.”

When we were alone Polly pointed out the obvious. The socket, standing some 5cm proud of the wall with a cable protruding a further 3cm sat squarely mid-wall. “Remember that we are in the process of moving the furniture around?” I admitted that I did remember. It would be difficult to deny it. The last week has been spent clearing space and getting rid of hundreds of books in preparation.. “Do you remember where the sideboard is going to go?” “Against that wall?” “That's right, against that wall where it fits exactly. That's exactly, not give or take a great big TV aerial socket.” “Oh. ..” Polly gave me that look wives have given husbands down through the ages. The look that expresses exasperation, love and pity, and bewilderment at how she had ended up married to someone she couldn't trust to sit the right way round on a lavatory. “ Oh well, perhaps we can move it,” she said. “The Sideboard?” “The socket, you. . . you. . .” “Wonderful man,” I supplied hopefully. “Get the tape measure, darling.”

It's her fault really. She want out and left me. And I was distracted. What words can you make with three I's, two O's, an E and a K?