Constructing a sentence

I am beginning to think that perhaps I do not articulate terribly well. In fact, it is even occurring to me, after yesterday, that maybe what I think are fully constructive sentences are not at all. I think I have perhaps lost the art of constructing a sentence, or at least one that makes sense to everyone else. Or, of course it could just be that everyone I am coming across are all the dumb people. Take yesterday for example. Now, where to start?
Well, if you recall, we had a wonderful holiday apart from the car and cat problems.
The car, it seems, is an ongoing problem. Now, I can deal with this. I am a mature woman. I understand cars have issues and need to be dealt with. I cannot however deal with a husband who seems to either be going deaf, or has selective hearing where I am concerned. I think it is the latter.
For the past three years he has had a mobile phone, whoops correction, a PDA which he uses to connect to his computer for his software work (straight over my head), which also doubles up as his mobile. Except the battery has been dying on a regular basis for the past six months. This has not been a serious issue as he emails me from work and I get that on my blackberry and email him back. But, god forbid, I may need to phone him and say,
‘Hey honey, could you stop off at the supermarket and get some toilet roll.’
Not that I would ever use those words, but you get my drift. Just a roll of toilet paper would kill his phone in an instant. So, I have coped with this problem without a complaint, apart from the odd,
‘Could you not get a new mobile darling, you know in case of emergency and all that?’
So, yesterday I went to the shops with the intention of being there for a short time and to maybe check out a cheap Nokia for him. I only needed a pair of shoes for a wedding on saturday after all.
I am not a lover of multi story parking and it took me all of twenty minutes to find a space. I ended up on the fourth floor and decided to take the lift down. First mistake.
I stepped in and was practically thrown to the floor by the onslaught of body odour and the leering eyes of what had to be a pervert. I attempted to retreat but the doors closed on me. I was somewhat relieved to see another woman with a child and proceeded to hold my breath. After just a few seconds the lift lurched and stopped.
we were all silent for a while. All trying to look calm and seeming not bothered in the least. Then the woman with the baby suddenly started banging all the buttons.
‘Oh my god, are we stuck. Do you have any water? Oh my god what do we do?’
Not panic maybe!
I handed her my half bottle of water which she snatched and quickly popped two pills which she washed down with my water. Now, my head was throbbing. I looked at the empty bottle and sighed. The smell was becoming intense now. I opened the little flap where the phone would be, there wasn’t one.
‘Oh my god, oh my god, my baby.’
I fought the impulse to slap her. Meanwhile the stinky man just stands there like a statue and now the baby picks up mum’s anxiety and screams for bloody England, while I try to remember what I needed so badly at the damn shops that would make this all worthwhile.
‘We could jump up and down,’ the smelly man suddenly suggests.
I try not to look unimpressed as I pull out my blackberry and get the phone number for marks and spencer which is on the ground floor. I have to shout above the baby’s screaming.
‘Could you get someone to fix the lift in the multi story car park please, we seem to be stuck and cannot get it to move.’ I mean, was that well constructed or what?
‘What car park would that be madam?’
Do what? There is only one in the whole town.
‘The one here, the one right outside your store.’
‘Can you hold on madam.’
Why?
Five minutes pass and then a woman comes on the phone.
By now my head is fit to burst,
‘What are they doing for god’s sake?’ yells mum.
‘I understand you are stuck in a lift, can you give us clear directions just where you are?’
oh please!
‘I am on the top floor of Bloomingdales of course. For goodness sake, we have a crying baby here. We are in the lift outside your store, right here in the town.’
‘There is no need to be rude madam we are trying to help you.’
I want to tell her I am about to pass out from an overdose of unsavoury body odour and could she have a medic waiting. Meanwhile, I try to ignore the fact that the man with us has his hand in an unsavoury place also.
I apologise and try to give clear concise instructions. She asks do I have enough battery to stay on the phone so they can get someone to sort out the problem. For Goodness sake!
‘Madam,can you confirm that you are in the lift that connects to the multi story car park?’
‘I already have.’
‘Well there is a lift in Debenhams, are you in that?’
‘I know where I bloody am. I am right outside your store on the 4th floor, which word do you not understand, store, floor, 4th?’
‘We are trying to help you madam.’
Why does it not feel like that?
Suddenly the think jerks and we are moving again. The doors suddenly open and I am out like a shot. Any plans of visiting Marks and Spencer are abandoned and I head to New look. I forget the phone, take the stairs back to my car and head home.
Thank god, time to relax. Never, ever again will I allow that thought to enter my head.
I decide to do a quick dinner of bean burgers and veg. Andrew emailed he was leaving twenty minutes before I stuck everything in the oven. I had just sat down when my mobile rang with a voice message. It was Andrew, the bloody car had broken down again. I phoned him back, forgetting the battery issue.
‘I have been trying for fifteen minutes to get it to restart. I will have to call the breakdown people so better go. I have some battery so will phone you when they get here.’
I wait and wait and wait. The phone goes. A Text.
‘Change of plan, they were bringing me home. But am going to the Peugeot garage with it can you collect me from there?’
I text back.
‘Where is that?’
Ten minutes pass and no response. I deliberate, should I or shouldn’t I call him back.
I do.
‘We are at the garage can you get me?’
Then I hear the man from the breakdown company say something about dropping him off somewhere nearer home.
‘Ok, can you collect me at Fri…’
Phone cuts out. I sit in the car, ready to leave. A woman geared up with nowhere to go. For god’s sake. I try his phone three times and just get voice mail.
I rush inside and google Fri and Oxfordshire and Peugeot and get a vague idea of where he may be. I set off and then decide to phone the breakdown company. They can patch me through (as they say on ‘24’) to the breakdown driver.
I pull in to a lay by and call them.
‘Hi, sorry to bother you but I am going to collect my husband who has been dropped off by your people and I am going to collect him. His phone battery has died so I am not sure where I am collecting him from. Can you put through to the driver he was with?’
Clear, concise sentence, yes? Obviously not.
‘Can I have his registration.’
That is like asking me can they have his waist measurement.How the hell do I know. I don’t even know my own reg without looking.
‘I don’t know it.’
‘Can I have your house number and postcode.’
I give it.
‘Okay madam, I can see he was picked up. They are relaying him home.’
‘No, they were but then there was a change of plan, can you just put me through to the driver.’
This is obviously very difficult for him.
‘Just putting you on hold madam.’
I get nice music. Then a woman answers.
‘Can I help you?’
I explain again.
‘Can you phone your husband?’
Erm, did I not cover that one already?
‘His battery died, so no I can’t.’
‘Do you think he will phone you?’
Of course, how silly, why did I not think of that.
‘His battery has died, I do not think he can. I think your man has dropped him off at one of two places can you phone him and ask him where he has done that so I know where I am going.’
By now I am driving while on the phone as it is all taking too long.
‘Putting you on hold.”
Oh, for Christ sake.
Five minutes later.
‘Do you know where the garage was?’
Oh this is getting stupid.
I give her the name of the place and say I do not know how to get there which is why I need the driver to tell me.
‘Oh, hold on. Fred,’ she shouts ‘Do you know where Frithwell is?’
I have to be in a nightmare. Surely this cannot be happening. How hard can it be to put me through to a driver. He has a bloody phone.
‘I will try to get hold of the driver and call you back,’ she says.
I go to give her my number but she tells me she has it on her system. I later find out she didn’t have it at all. She phoned Andrew and managed to get him on a small amount of battery he had left. Then realised she could not phone me back. I meanwhile am heading to a place I have never been to in my life before and have no idea where I am going. I am cursing the woman, cursing Andrew, cursing his car and am almost in tears. I try Andrew again, nothing. I am half way to the place when my phone goes.
‘I am in Cumnor by the pub, can you come there.’
Shit, I am now on the motorway. More curses and I then manage to turn around and head back. I pull up beside him with a screech and we drive home in silence at 90 miles an hour until Andrew speaks.
‘I will need clean pants when we get home if you continue like this.’
‘If you do not get a phone by this time tomorrow, I am leaving,’ I say all dramatically. I know and he knows I have nowhere to go.
‘Ok,’ he responds.
Tonight we are collecting the car and I am fearful. I feel like I am going on a fairground ride. At least he got a Nokia phone so should we lose each other, we can maintain contact. Wish me luck…

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The Good Life

I jumped from my bed at 3.am. this morning and it was not to go to work. My cat was howling like a banshee. I cursed as I fell over three pillows and then four cushions. I could almost feel Andrew’s smirk. Almost six years ago we had moved into our Cotswold village and our darling cottage. I was determined to make it as cosy as possible. This culminated in us being inundated with “ideal home” and other similar type magazines. The bedroom was to be the dream room and the bed the icing on the cake, so it was layered with pillows and then topped like an appetising desert with an abundance of colourful cushions. I cannot recall a night when Andrew had not complained about them.
‘I only need one pillow to sleep on, so why do I have three and why do we have numerous cushions as well? We need to come to bed thirty minutes earlier just to clear the bed.’
I did try to explain the aesthetics of the idea but it seemed to go over his head. Now, this particular morning I am beginning to agree with him. It took me forever to find my clothes which were nicely hugged up with all the cushions. Finally, I got downstairs and quietly called in my cat, and not for the first time silently moaned under my breath, ‘bloody village. For, the whole village would have heard his antics and in fact, if my window is not closed they can often hear mine, I imagine. Such is the way of village life. I am not a country girl at heart. I spend the mornings drowning wood lice that reside in my bath and the evening hoovering up spiders. I drive to work at 10 miles an hour so I don’t hit a pheasant with my car. I use to scream hysterically when Bendrix (the cat) first brought in mice. I have now learnt the art of scraping them up with a shovel. The live ones I do seriously run away from or grab someone in the village and do a trade.. One woman hates butterflies, so I will get them out of her house and in return she removes live mice from mine. But the rabbits, oh don’t go there. My cat seems to like the heads only. Sometimes I come home to scenes out of ‘Fatal attraction’. I leave those for Andrew. So what made a townie like me move to a village? Is village life all it is cracked up to be?
Well, there is a lot to be said for bell ringing I am sure. The Women’s institute is probably fascinating, except I have not quite built up the courage to join yet, even though they have badgered me for six years.
The local pub is useful as it is within walking distance and if you have a penchant for god, well, the church is right opposite the pub. Handy, I guess, if you should want to drown your sorrows after confession. Mind you, if you want anything else then you need a car as there are no shops for two miles but we do have a mobile library which I find rather decadent for some reason.
As to why we moved here, well, maybe that should be part two.
But country life, and country folk are a law unto themselves. I love my little village. It is pretty and people actually visit it and take photos! I don’t ever recall that happening in Romford, in that little known county of Essex. Did I feel a cringe? Yes, I am an Essex girl. We are a brand of our own. Known for dancing round our handbags and of course infamously known thanks to Jade Goody. But, not to fret. Surrey born Andrew knocked the Essex twang out of me very quickly. You would never know it now. I get more horsy sounding with each day. Talking of which, they are in abundance here, horses that is, not Essex girls. When I first arrived in the country I cooed over them. Now they drive me mad. I set off for work at an acceptable speed and then find myself forever moving at a snail’s pace so as not to frighten the numerous horse riders on my route. I may as well cycle to work the time it takes me. But all those hills stop me even considering that. There are many pleasures to living in the country after you have removed the wood lice, the spiders, the wasps, the horses and the walkers. The walkers are the worst. They walk through the village and then suddenly stop and stare through your window into your living room. So far I have never been caught naked, but you never know. I still try to make the cottage look like the rooms in ‘Shabby Chic ‘but it just doesn’t work. When it does, Andrew will come in and throw all his stuff everywhere and should I complain, I get that look followed by the same sarcastic comment.
‘Maybe we should have two homes, one to live in and one for show.’
However, I must admit it is rather nice to walk to the local letter box and stop several times to chat to my neighbours, all, of whom, I know. I even volunteered to help with the cream teas one year during the open garden season. All very middle class and all that. In fact, sometimes I think we have dropped straight out of a Jilly Cooper novel, except I can’t seem to find the scandal here. I am sure there must be some .Maybe I am not looking hard enough. I even have a milkman who delivers and I cannot smell a wiff of scandal about him. I really feel I ought to be making a bigger effort with my scone making and such like. I already feel guilty for not attending the WI on a Monday and then bell ringing on a Tuesday and I think Wednesday might be the history group. We did attempt to keep an allotment but it got so overgrown that we actually got fined. But all in all we have kept out of trouble. Oh no, I lie. One Wed evening a representative of the parish council had to visit us on the issue of my car being badly parked and that Mrs Watson, all of ninety, had some difficulty getting around it. Obviously my parking has improved dramatically since then.
Today, however, I looked at the house and decided I am becoming a compulsive house cleaner in my determination to have a cottage that resembles one out of ‘Country Life’ magazine. Worse of all I even try to hide it like a junkie might their drugs. I pretend I never clean. I give the impression I am a domestic avoider when in fact I actually vacuum as Andrew is doing his D.I.Y. No chance of sawdust hitting the floor of our ‘Country Life’ look alike cottage. By the time he had finished hanging a new back door at the weekend I was exhausted. I had been vacuuming as he sawed, wiping up varnish as he dripped it, getting out and then putting away tools as he used them. Of course, all this accompanied by heavy sighs from him the whole time. I even tried to maintain the kitchen so it looked exactly the same while he worked in it! We must have walked into each other at least a dozen times. At one point I am ashamed to admit that I even vacuumed the garden to clear up the mess. It is time to stop! I am always complaining I do not get enough time to write and study. The time has come to hang up the polish and the floor mop. I only hope my withdrawal symptoms do not last too long.

The End Of The Holiday

So, where did I get to? Oh, I remember. The last thing was the great rowing boat trip on a Loch of one’s own.

Ah, holidays. I am seriously wondering if they really are worth all the time and effort and dare I add stress. We finally said goodbye to Glencarron and Ba Ba black sheep.
I now have the fun of phoning ‘Bon Prit’ to see if I can return one lamb nibbled skirt. I have no doubt they will say ‘no problem.’ (NOT).

Now, for all the news I left out. Did I feel you shudder? Also, did I mention that I barely got out alive? The midgies nearly ate me to death. It really was worse than ‘The invasion.’ I must have spent the last week scratching myself to pieces. My legs are still not a pretty sight. Not that they ever have been.
I hate to admit, that for me, the best part of the holiday was having a dishwasher. I feel embarrassed even mentioning it. Oh, what a luxury. What a difference. I mean, I told Andrew a dishwasher would change my life. I even swore it would cure my PMT. He looked doubtful. I do not hold out much hope of obtaining one. The tiny television was something of a let down. I had taken my new boxed set of ‘24’ thinking I would be watching it on a great plasma screen and instead had to peer closely at a 12 inch monitor. One cannot have everything I suppose, but that would have been nice.

Our first week was fairly uneventful. I got over the shock of not holidaying at a Blenheim look-alike and finally settled down. I actually became quite attached to the two cats, three dogs, and one lamb that followed us about. Brian the stalker was very helpful, that is when he heard us knock at his door which was not as often as we would have liked.
On the Wednesday Andrew chose to do some clay pigeon shooting. I have never seen my husband behind a gun. He has seen me behind a knife admittedly, but I had no intention of being in the same vicinity as my husband when he had a shotgun. I stayed at East cottage reading my racy little novel and jumping every time there was a shot. I prayed each time that he had not killed the stalker. It then began to pour with rain. I expected him to return but it seems Brian had just laughed when this had been suggested.
‘It’s a wee drizzle man,’ he had declared.
Yes, well. One man’s drizzle is another’s soaking.
Andrew came back full of his days fun and then winked at me.
‘I have the key to the Lodge. We have fifteen minutes to look around’
I jumped up and down in glee. I am not sure why. From the outside it looks like something out of ‘Great Expections’. So, my only expectation was seeing lots of cobwebs. Oh, what a surprise. The place was amazing. Enough bedrooms and bathrooms for 20 people. I already started planning a murder mystery evening until my dear husband brought me down to earth. He began telling me about the owners and I realised, not for the first time in my life, that we do not live in a classless society as I keep deluding myself. It seemed the poor stalker was not treated at all well. All the correspondence we had been sent had indicated the stalker would expect a gratuity fee each time he took us somewhere. This fee was something like £30. But when we tried to give him anything, he was deeply offended. He obviously has no idea this is sent out to holiday makers. I was left speechless when Andrew told me that once Brian had been stopped by the owner after being given two scones by the cook. He was asked to explain himself until he eventually handed them back. I left the Lodge feeling quite sad that there are some people who will always think they are better than others simply because they have more money, or a better education. Maybe I am naive to think we are all the same underneath. That everyone is deserving of love no matter how educated or rich they are, and also deserving of respect. But, the reality of life is that I soon forgot this and continued with my holiday.
We phoned home to check my car was back after its MOT. I already knew that was going to cost around £600. The cat was doing fine. He had his stitches put in and all in all that had cost another £300. So, already we had spent a £1000 just sitting in our holiday cottage.
The following day we decided to have a quiet afternoon. I chose to read while Andrew studied. Suddenly Buster the dog jumped up to the window with a thump and sat staring at us. We in turn stared at each other. We knew we were both thinking the same thing. Do we let him in. His sad watery eyes pleaded with us. I opened the door to be knocked over by Buster who was quickly followed by Ba Ba black sheep. Suddenly mayhem broke loose. Buster skidded around the house like a racing car, while Ba Ba black sheet bleated away in between getting small nips on his leg by Buster. We quickly tried to gain control but all was lost. The cats had now run in.
Suddenly we were overrun. Buster was barking like mad and trying to bite the lambs leg, while the cats rubbed themselves affectionately against us. Suddenly Buster grabbed the lamb and was dragging it by its leg outside. It seemed jealousy had reared its ugly head.
‘Oh my god, do something,’ I screamed.
‘Like what,’ retorted Andrew.
I opened my mouth but of course I had no idea either. At that moment Brian came to the rescue and suddenly all was quiet again. We both let out a sigh of relief.
‘I think a day out tomorrow,’ was Andrew’s only response.
So, the next day off we went to a castle. As we started the journey, all seemed well. On the way back our car turned into a kangaroo and after 10 mins halted altogether.
My hands began to sweat.
‘It’s nothing. I just need to reset it and it will be fine. I get this sometimes going to work,’ says my ever laid back husband.
‘There,’ he says getting back into the car and starting the ignition, which doesn’t actually start.
‘Strange,’ he gets out again. I sweat a bit more.
This time it does start and we are off again. Five minutes later it is spluttering.
‘Oh no, we will never get back home like this, how will we get back to work,’ I say helplessness evident in my voice.
Ok, so we are not going home for another four days, but one needs to think ahead. Not my husband. Life is one day at a time. No, I exaggerate, one hour at a time. No, I exaggerate again, one minute at a time. So, I get a look which even I cannot describe.
We get going again and make it to Loch Carron, which is our local town, kind of, if you call almost twenty miles local. There is a garage there.
‘Bring it back friday and we’ll look at it for you’
We stress we have to get home on the Saturday. They agree to have a quick look at it while we do some shopping. It is freezing cold, windy and rainy and I have on just a light top. With teeth chattering we walk to the shops. An hour later we return to discover they need a part and cannot do it till the Friday after all.
We climb back into what I now view as the monster, and begin to head back to the cottage. We manage to drive about 200 yards and the car breaks down. we are towed back to the garage and one of the men there drives us home in his pick up. Great, now we don’t have a car. Even the loch where the rowing boat sits is too far to walk.
We get home full of shopping and Andrew lights the fire. I attempt to relax and not worry. I feel sure the car will be ok. They seemed to know what was needed and had ordered the parts.
‘But who will take you to pick it up?’ I ask suddenly.
I have a tendency to do this. We may be sitting in total silence for hours and I find my mind racing and then the last sentence will just roll off my tongue. I forget the rest of the world has not been in my head with me.
Andrew gives me a confused look, works it out as he always does and responds.
‘Oh, you mean the car. I will ask Brian or someone at the garage. That is friday’s problem.’
I hate to tell him that I am way past Friday’s problem. I am already on Monday’s and getting back to work problem..
That night I lay awake listening to all the strange house noises mingled with Andrew’s snoring and suddenly hear a loud bang. My heart thumps. I lay tense but all is quiet. I close my eyes to sleep and then, bang again.
I hiss at Andrew.
‘Wake up.’
Nothing.. I thump him on the back.
‘There is a noise downstairs. I think someone has got into the house’
I pretend to ignore his deep sigh.
I listen with ears pricked as he makes his way downstairs and grab my phone, struggling to recall if I dial 999 on a mobile or is it something different. Andrew comes back safe and sound.
‘Its the log crackling on the fire, honestly, you are a wreck.’
I cringe under the covers.
Friday arrives and I truly am a wreck. I try doing what if’s with Andrew. He is not playing. At 2.30 Brian knocks to ask if we need a lift to collect the repaired car. Is that a good omen, I think, that Brian says repaired car. I stay at the cottage and wait. Thirty minutes later Andrew comes back with the car on a tow truck. I feel tears begin to prick my eyes.
‘It’s a complicated software problem. We have two options,’ he tells me calmly.
I fight my overwhelming desire to get hysterical. I hate options. There is never a good option in my experience.
‘We hire a car to take us home and have this towed to Inverness to the Peugeot people and come back in two weeks and do the whole journey again, there and back. Or we risk it home.’
‘No,’ I shout. ‘We will break down on the motorway and cars will hit us.’
‘I will phone for breakdown cover. I will tell them our problem and see if they will cover us. I think we should give it a go.’
Is he mad? Have the midgie bites made him demented?
I cook dinner with shaking hands as he phones breakdown companies and amazingly gets us booked in with two after telling them we have a problem with the car and are 600 miles from home. He tells them the problem and he is also amazed they agree to accept us.
I debate whether I can bear to do this journey again, ever in my life in fact! The decision is made to attempt the journey home in the monster.
That night I barely sleep. By the morning I am exhausted.
Andrew is positive. I have gone through all the what if’s and am as prepared as I can be.
Believe it or not, even with toilet stops we made it home 16 hours later and the car is still going.
As for Scotland. It was lovely, but I think I will really check out the details of my rental home next time and always remember they take the best photos of the place.
I am still secretly thrilled I broke a knife that was already falling to bits and they did not even notice and gave us back our deposit. Now that is a result I say.