Today was the last day allowed for painting and as painting finished yesterday, it was a free day. I got this confirmed over the phone by the management. My only commitment was to wait in for a bathroom mirror to be delivered. A fine opportunity, methought, to indulge in the domestic arts.
The particular plan was to clean and wash the kitchen cabinets which, though new, were not entirely clean and contained samples of the same dust that has been causing us so much annoyance. So, I set to with hot water and washing-up liquid and some of those blue disposal cloths which must have made their inventor a mint of money. Good luck to him. It’s quite hard cleaning these cabinets as some of them have a door at one end but the interior goes right along under the sink or behind another cabinet so you end up with you head and shoulders inside, reaching for the far corners.
Nothing daunted, I was well on my way to completing the job when the doorbell rang. My immediate thought was that it was the mirror. It wasn’t. It was two chaps wearing the tee shirts of the building company. They smiled. “Er, yes?” I ventured tetchily which, being interpreted, meant “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
“Floor,” said the leader. “Bathroom and kitchen.” (He was East European, if you haven’t guessed.) “No, no!” I replied, “Floors tomorrow: Friday.” And for good measure, “I’m not ready. I have to move things into the other room, put the bed up.”
“Bed? What bed?” enquired the leader, puzzled, looking around the bedless front room.
I explained that it had been agreed to floor the whole front room, not just the kitchen area but that in order for that to happen I had to move things into the back room and to do that…” (pause to breathe) “I had to put the bed up.”
“No, no. We do only bathroom and kitchen.”
“No, you do whole room.”
“I don’t know anything about that.”
“Well, go and find out!”
Unconvinced, they went out into the corridor to ply their mobile phones while I rushed around trying to put things away. Anxious? Stressed? Who me? Surely not…
“Our bosses will have to discuss it. So now we do bathroom and kitchen area. If we have to do rest of room, we’ll do it later.”
Freya, meanwhile, was hiding behind the settee. I grabbed her and dumped her in the bedroom and fetched her food bowls, bed and litter tray. She hid among the clothes on the clothes rack. I went into the bedroom later to leave the field clear for the builders and read more of the book about Napoleon on St Helena and how he created a garden around his house. Freya emerged from hiding and got into her bed beside me. She looked at me with the look that means “I wasn’t scared, you know. No, not at all. I just don’t like strangers seeing me unwashed and uncombed.”
I tried phoning the management. No luck. It’s getting harder and harder to contact them. I left a message saying that it had been agreed that the whole room be floored but that these chaps want to do only the kitchen area so can you help?
Knock, knock, on the bedroom door. “Bathroom finished. Tomorrow we come back and do whole room.”
“Yes. No need to clear room. We move things now here, now there. It will be all right.”
“Yes. It will be OK. We come back tomorrow.”
“At what time?”
(Shrug.) “Morning. Afternoon. It could be any time.”
So now the bathroom has a nice bluey mottled floor instead of a rough, paint blobbed concrete one. I am particularly impressed by the way it fits around the toilet pedestal: you can’t see the join, as Eric Morecambe might have said.
I am glad to have some of the flooring done but can’t help feeling annoyed at the way they turn up unannounced as if they expect you to be there all the time and then, when they do tell you they are coming, they can’t say when, so you have to stay in all day until they decide to call on you.
There is one bright spot. My new credit card arrived today. Blue, like the bathroom floor, with the name “S. Tiger” embossed on it. That’ll save me carrying a suitcase full of cash down to IKEA. While waiting for the mirror I will practise my signature.