Day Seventeen

Realise that when I vacuumed / hoovered / sucked up the broken glass the other day that I was only wearing my boxer shorts and the blinds were open. This wouldn’t ordinarily concern me, but the tumble dryer shrank all my boxer shorts so that they are now more like hotpants. 

This is what happens when I do the washing. This is also why I now buy all my clothes one size too big for me. And this is why Babe has barred me from washing anyone else’s clothes and from using any and all other household appliances except the kettle and the toaster: devices with only one on-off button. 

I don’t disagree with her ban, but feel strongly about setting an example for Rhubarb and Special that men are just as capable of using a wide range of domestic appliances as women.

Babe does not disagree with this idea, but feels the girls need to have the example set by a man who can actually use said appliances without turning everything into clothing for Ken or Barbie. 

Walk off in a mild huff to the garden.

Decide to get my own back on Babe by mowing the lawn while the washing is on the line. This contravenes two of Babe’s bylaws: using an appliance I am not permitted to, because technically it has a two-button on off “deadman” switch, and secondly, mowing grass that will fly up onto the wet clothes on the line. I proceed in haste, chuckling to myself at how sneaky I am being.

When I am done Babe comes out to ask me if I will be taking my clothes off the line to wash them again or be wearing them with the grass dried on. 

Walk off in another huff to make myself a cup of tea. 

Retreat to the front room and call Nan to see how she is. She is 90 and lives in assisted accommodation. She is “shielding”. To her this means doing what she has done for the last seventy-seven years – avoiding the public at all costs – but now with official government backing and a light-weight replica medieval shield with a fancy coat of arms painted on the front. The design includes a serpent and a lion, bearing fangs and claws. She might also have chainmail, a squire and a broadsword, because Nan has always said it’s important not to do things by halves. 

“Hi Nan. It’s Lee.”

“Oh hello love, how’s my favourite grandson?” 

Despite the fact I know she says the same to my brother and cousins, I still like the flattery. 

“I’m alright. How are you?” 

“Oh you know me, soldering on. You gotta make the most of it haven’t you.”

I don’t point out the difference between soldering and soldiering. She appreciates pageantry, but not pedantry. 

“Absolutely. Have you been going out for walks?” 

“Oh yes. We go round the courtyard twice a day.”

“But that’s barely big enough to swing a cat in.”

“Well I’m not as fast as I used to be you know. It takes me half an hour just to get my knickers on these days,” 

I laugh.

“Besides, I don’t need to go outside.”

“Why’s that?” 

“Because we’re watching Joe Wicks three times a day. He’s a lovely looking man isn’t he. Nice smile. And such colourful t-shirts. Lovely strong legs too.”

I nearly choke on my tea. 

“Yes, I had noticed. I didn’t know he does a session for older people. What sort of exercises do you do then?” 

“Oh we don’t do the exercises, we just sit in the lounge with our tea and enjoy watching him huff and puff and sweat.”

“We?”

“Yes, you know, me and Doris and Clara and Esther and Miriam and Jenny and Diana and Sue and Helen, and sometimes Karen, but only when she’s not upstairs having her quiet time with Alf.”

“Wow. That is quite a crowd you’ve got going there. Does Joe know about your fan club?” 

“Oh yes, we tweet him everyday to compliment him on his moves.”

“You tweet him?” 

“Yes, are you on Twitter? I can follow you if you like.”

“Sure. Why not.”