"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know..." In January 1940 Irving Berlin revealed to the world the lyrics of a Christmas classic immortalised by 'the crooner' Bing Crosby. In theme with today's worldly concerns, perhaps Mr. Berlin was giving us a precursor to the dangers of global warming.
I'm not sure what it is about this time of the year but events in my life seem to be rather enhanced. Perhaps because it is this 'special' time of the year, I am more aware of them. For someone who has turned the reclusive state into an art form, I keep having predicaments that force me from any prolonged duvet contemplation. At Christmas I perceive them to be more pronounced.
I shall now present to you what life has been like for me during the last two weeks. Remember, this is a guy who prefers life nice and simple, not confusing and complex. A couple of weeks ago my very nice neighbour from below mentioned that he was getting some residue on his kitchen walls. He believed the source of the problem may be coming from the back of my washing machine. Okay fine. So just to be sure, a plumber from my Housing Association checked out the taps at the back of my washing machine. Sure enough, there was a minor drip. Slight tightening of the hose and problem solved.
Two days later, on the Saturday, I turned on the washing machine and went off to the shops. Upon my return, I went into my kitchen and waded through the carpet. To my horror, my kitchen was now flooded out. What the hell has happened? Where the hell is my canoe? What must my neighbour's kitchen be like?
I proceeded to look under my sink and immediately noticed the cause of my oceanic adventure. When the plumber had moved my machine away from the wall, he had also removed the drainage pipe. So water from the machine had gone directly onto the floor. What had started out as a simple plumbing job, two days before, was now a complete disaster.
Then came the predictable panicky knock on my door. To his credit, my neighbour was very calm. He realised that this comedy of errors was not my fault. For the next week, there was a flurry of activity as workers went in and out below. Their kitchen walls had to be redone and the electrics rewired. I felt absolutely terrible about what had transpired. Yet despite it all, my neighbours have been very good-natured about the whole sorry saga. I am most grateful for that. In fact, we can actually have a laugh about it as we discuss lifeboat drills.
Two days before Christmas, I got another frantic knock on my door. Oh no, what now, thought this guy who craves a simple life. (I must keep that negative speculation under control). It was my neighbour from just up the road. Here was this hysterical woman, a single mother with three children, about to have her electric meter run out. Of all the neighbours to approach, she always seems to come to me for help. Her boyfriend was busy getting drunk in Hanley and she didn't like to disturb him! What!? So off I went in my car, trying to get a top-up for her electric meter. I drove all over Leek, finally at the third shop I tried, I managed to get her card topped-up.
When I returned to her house, we tried the card and it did not work. The reason? Turns out that her meter was no longer working and needed to be replaced. So as I looked after her children, her Uncle came to the rescue and took them away to his house. At least I knew they would be safe and warm.
Now then, Christmas Eve, nothing else would happen to complicate my longed-for simple life? Oh how wrong I was. I had one last laundry to do before the 'special day'. I switched on the machine and, oh shit, nothing happened. " Great stuff, what now?" I thought. So I pulled my machine out from the wall three times (yes three times) to check the plumbing. I could see nothing wrong. So now I had visions of doing the laundry in the bathtub. Oh joy! (whoops..more negative speculation!) Out of sheer frustration, I pushed every flippin' button on the darn thing. Then it started! I then realised that somehow I had it set on timer delay. Silly me. So my panic subsided and I could now enjoy Christmas Eve.
"Tristan" I called. "The machine is now working. Would you please monitor the situation whilst I go off to the shops in my car?" I got into my car, went to start it and guess what? Yeah, that's right, my battery was flat. Oh fantastic! So off I strolled in the pouring rain to do my last bit of shopping.
There was a time when situations like this would have really got to me. Now I try to be positively philosophical. My life aint so bad. The events of the last couple of weeks have turned out okay. My neighbours have a nice new kitchen. The single Mother with three children is back in her house and the lights are working. My washing machine has cleaned our clothes. So all that is left is to get my 'midlife-chrisis, divorce mobile' started. (which reminds me. I need new furry dice for my rear-view mirror).
I hope this blog has not bored you silly. Upon reading it myself...yawn...zzzz...WAKE UP! Right then, where was I? Once again, I seemed to have experienced a simply complex Christmas.