Thursday, 10 March 2011
There are different kinds of visitors to my home; I'll exclude house-viewers, who are, by and large, more like tourists, simultaneously welcome and unwelcome. The usual kind of visitor lives near me, pops in for a cup of tea (sometimes bringing their own, after it dawns on them that now it's made, they might like to drink it in company) has a chat, and goes away shortly after. These visitors are also established Friends of the Dogs, to be greeted rapturously whilst trying not to spill whatever they are carrying: riveting news, mugs of tea, things to show me, political flyers to be outraged about. They tend to leave with some cat and dog hair attached to their rearwards clothing, and strangely, don't seem to mind.
They understand that they must take me as they find me, and if that's in my usual mess and muddle, so be it (although mess and muddle are rarer than they used to be, now that we live in a state of perpetual viewing-readiness). And I take them in the same spirit, in housework clothes, or slippers, or indeed tears.
Then there are those less-regular folk, who make pre-arranged visits from afar, giving me time to bake, get rid of cat hair from seats, look critically at the state of the hand towels in the bathroom, brush my hair, and pick up Flossie's trip-hazard toy collection from the hall. Or to nudge Flossie, the biggest trip hazard of all, out of the way.
Yesterday I had just such prearranged visitors, so my hair was brushed, and I was more or less ready, although I had forgotten their arrival time so hadn't preheated the oven for the promised cheese scones. Never mind; Anne (of frayed at the edge), husband Malcolm and sister in law Jennifer chatted amongst themselves while I got those scones ready and set the table for afternoon tea. No time to get out a nice little embroidered tablecloth - tablecloths cannot be put on in advance, or a certain someone (no, not Flossie! She's far too well-mannered to get up on the table! Think fluffy cat) sits on them....
I was given gifts; a jar of seasoning: salt, seeds, herbs, petals, very pretty. And little scented tea lights in a glass holder. We tucked in to scones and mocha cake, the latter from Rachel Allen's 'Bake'. Next time I shall omit the coffee butter icing and use mascarpone cheese instead, rather more grown up and not nearly so sickly and cloying. (Notice the unmourned absence of the low-fat diet?)
And then Malcolm, already twitching at the challenge, had a look at the dishwasher. I knew he would; Anne had already volunteered him. He had already repaired their own dishwasher, so his reputation went before him. He poked and prodded, and from the bowels of the machine, he withdrew this:
A piece of drinking glass. Who knows how long it's been jammed in the innards?
The machine was reassembled and switched on, as we quivered in anticipation. Would it work?
Ah well. Time to plan another visit, this time with the tools required for more major surgery. Anne and Malcolm have now joined the ranks of the first type of visitor; carrying things, hopefully more used to cat hair, and now firmly established as Friends of the Dogs. And of me.
They went away with leftover cake and a plan to knit a cabled cushion cover for me; they will return for lunch and to carry out a plan of action.
This charming plan includes letting Malcolm loose on what are vaguely described as 'projects' while I teach Anne how to make scones, and she teaches me something equally useful to do with knitting or crochet.
Sounds like a deal to me.
PS It's been a wonderful week for unexpected presents: my friend Susan (of 29 Black Street) sent me this delightful Spring card and a print of her polaroid photograph of lilacs in a glass vase, because she knew I loved it.
(Yes, Susan, there's a slight crease in it; yes, I have made a strongly-worded complaint to Royal Mail whose postman saw fit to bend and force an otherwise pristine rigid card envelope through my letterbox rather than ring the bell and hand it over undamaged. Yes, I am still seething, but I'm sure that weights and time may straighten it out before framing.)
Posted by rachel at 10:42