Monthly Archives: November 2011

Girls With Filthy Cars

Yesterday, my dearest Brown-Eyed-Girl found a mouse living in the glove compartment of her car.

This is not a shock to me, and I suspect, neither was it to her.

Brown-Eyes and me belong in the same car-owner category: Girls With Filthy Cars

You know the sort, we’ve all met them, generous with offering lifts and cheerfully late, with the fuel gauge permanently on empty, the GWFC will storm up to you, music blaring, yakking away on their mobile phone and shout at you to “just climb in”. At which point you will contemplate the mountain of junk in front of you and wonder where, exactly, to sit. There will usually be a dog of some description, either lurking about, leering at you and letting off farts or just the evidence of one; a layer of dog hair, dried slobber and a deeply entrenched smell of wet dog. Crisp packets galore, bottles of drink rolling about, magazines, horse-rugs, at least twenty packets of cigarettes, lighters that don’t work, lots of unopened post in ominous brown envelopes, a variety of half-eaten but unidentifiable items of food and practically a whole wardrobe of clothes. And lots of carrier bags.

As a GWFC myself, I always wonder what the problem is. “Wimp” is my first thought, when I see someone gingerly stepping into my vehicle, or notice their eyes watering when the dog has let one rip. People have actually refused to get in my car (their loss, I am an excellent driver) or insist on hanging out of the window for the duration of the journey because of the ‘smell’. We then lurch off, stamping on the accelerator and brakes with equal enthusiasm as the unsuspecting passenger searches in vain amongst the debris for a seatbelt.

I used to drive a Fiat Panda, which was often referred to as my Hairdryer. And I guess it was very much like driving a hairdryer; small, compact and blowing a hoolie. It was so full of stuff, I could only fit myself in it, although my mothers labrador used to perch perilously on top of everything with a nervous look in his eyes. A policeman pulled me over in the hairdryer once, because he saw me leave the pub carpark and wanted to breathalise me. I passed the test, which disappointed him, so he proceeded to look around the whole car and check the tyres, all of which were ok, then he asked me to open the door to inspect the inside. He regretted it immediately. An avalanche of wet and muddy horse-rugs fell on top of him, shortly followed by the dog. As I tunnelled in, bringing out an array of surprising things, getting more excited as I discovered long-lost cereal bowls, a TV remote control and various missing shoes, I saw the policeman admit defeat.

The hairdryer used to be a bit iffy about starting in the mornings, so in the absence of any WD40, I would lift the bonnet and spray everything liberally with deodorant or hairspray. This worked surprisingly well. The first ever car I drove was called The Budgie. It was bright yellow and I drove it around the farm because I was too young to be on the roads at the time. The Budgie had absolutely no mirrors, grass growing out of the passenger foot well and no back-seats, which made it perfect for collecting sheep in. On the road, this car was hair-raising but going about the farm it was fine, except when I once had to make an emergency stop (a duck made a suicide dash) and Emily the sheep got wedged between the two front seats……. I also had a car that was missing a window, so I used a wheel clamp to stop any buggars from nicking it. The wheel clamp worked wonders for me in other ways too, I never got a parking ticket, however ridiculously parked, with that yellow clamp on.

So all in all I am not surprised in the slightest to find out there was a mouse in living in her car, at least she knows the squeaking is nothing expensive. And my advice to all future passengers of GWFC is; don’t wear white trousers.

Rural Idyll

When friends and family come to visit, I have fantasies of inviting them into my beautiful, idyllic cottage. I imagine that I will have finished all the decorating, there will be fresh flowers in the guest bedroom, home-made bread will be rising in the Aga, I will have completed my over-ambitious gardening project so we can all have civilised drinks on the breakfast terrace, I will wow everyone with my home-made chutneys and apple pies using fruit grown by my very own hands, the bedding will be freshly laundered and ironed, the animals will behave impeccably well, etc, etc.

This is no way ever reflects the reality.

What happens is this:

My guests are always parked up and waiting on the driveway for me to arrive home, because I am so rudely late. So I hare through the gate, slipping on the rotten apples (that I have failed yet again to pick up), full of apologies, which they cannot hear because my over-sized, ridiculous hound is stood on her hind legs, pressed against the window, barking like hell unleashed, slobbering all over the glass and looking really fierce. The guests are bursting for the toilet (of course) so I wrestle with my front door, which, due to the house falling down no longer fits its frame, fall over the coats and shoes and unopened post, all the while being whooped and cheered on by Wally the parrot who is positioned at the end of the hall-way, open the inner front door and race up the stairs before everyone else to flush the toilet chain and check for loo-roll, picking up dirty knickers clothes on the way. Then I slam the bedroom doors shut (best to hide the mess) and shout that they may now use the bathroom.

I do have a downstairs bathroom, but you have to be brave to use it. Placed on the back of the house as an afterthought, it looks like a Swedish sauna and I use it as a dumping ground for things such as a panel saw and disc-cutter. I am also scared of spiders so I have stopped opening the door incase there are some giant ones in there.

Then I survey the astonishing mess in my kitchen. I am lucky in that I have an enormous, plain-glass window across the width of the kitchen that looks directly onto rolling fields, I am always distracted by the beautiful views. The window is single pane and has gaps around the edges because the frame is rotten and therefore leaks and lets in a howling wind, but I love to look out of it.  I do not know, I really don’t, how so much mess happens. I reckon the sheep pop in during the day and have a little party with the cattle and use all the crockery and cutlery to do so.

So I charge about the house, stuffing socks down the sides of the sofas, spraying air freshener and lighting candles to try to get rid of the distinctly pungent aroma of dog farts and stick the kettle on. Whilst the water is boiling, I decide to check the garden for dog poo and discover that yes, my dog does indeed shit at least ten times a day and no, the fairy has not been for the last week so the lawns resemble a training ground for landmine clearance. Hence, the second sight guests are greeted with is me, racing around with a horse poop-scoop and a black bin liner, picking up elephant sized crap in order for them to enjoy their tea or coffee outside, in the rural idyll.  Guests then make their own tea/ coffee, they can see I have my hands full.

As the dog runs through her repertoire of party tricks for the visitors (wall of death around the garden, thorough search of their handbags followed by a smash and grab of an item from it, slobber on the most expensive trousers, loud fart, toy that has been left in the rain is rammed into someones crotch area, and so on) and I reassure everyone that the milk in their drink is supposed to have lumps in it, I usually start to admit defeat. Realisation dawns that my hosting skills have sadly not met my own expectations, I am not Kirsty Allsop or Nigella Lawson, Domestic Goddess, I am an optimist, not a realist.

Without rose-tinted glasses, what I and my guests are confronted with, is a house that looks like a tornado has recently ripped through it. Unkempt, apple and conker-littered lawns, bare, stripped walls with exposed plaster in the living room, no curtains (I hate them) or even rails for curtains to go on, an unholy mess in the kitchen, a conservatory that has been turned into a parrot playroom with a three-man sofa for the dog to lounge on, an avocado bathroom suite with test-patches of paint on each of the walls, mouldy window frames (I don’t know why I find that funny but I do), freezing cold because I cannot afford oil for the central heating, a beautiful Aga that is out of action because of the oil situation and a sad-looking Baby Belling that is borrowed to replace the Aga. There are mice in the house occasionally (I should probably stop feeding them pizza), and earwigs, beetles and spiders (hey, my house is literally in a field) and I will not have them killed, we all live in harmony. My animals are unruly (like my life), my laundry habits are hit and miss, carried out on a need-to-have basis (I only bought an iron and ironing board because one guest refused to visit unless I got one for him to use) and I like climbing mountains, even if they are made of clothes.

But I love entertaining, so I am free with my hugs and enthusiasm, the views are indescribeably perfect and beautiful and best of all, the carvery in the village is only £3.50 per head, so dinner is served!


The View from my Kitchen Window