Thursday, 6 November 2014
All's Quiet on the Western Front
It's all due to major work on the house. Massive disruptions which have thrown our usually ship shape regime into buggery.
O.K. I have to admit that you might not see them as major: but for us aging rock stars painting the front room and bathroom are major gigs. It's all in the preparation: deciding on the paint - it must not be magnolia or anything that looks in any way like that dread colour. Except our rooms are dark so we can't be too adventurous. And we're not going all hipsterish with huge slashes of reds, greens and yellows. So choosing a colour takes a time.
Should we paint the ceiling the same colour as the walls. Should the chimney breast be the same colour as the rest of the room. Does any colour match that delightful shade of purple in the portrait of the flying pig we bought 20 years ago and thought we must do something with it?
I leave all these major art and studio matters to 'er in doors since she's the artist and I'm colour blind and can't match shit and a shovel.
We made a major purchase. New curtains from John Lewis (love their Christmas ad by the way). They run the whole length of one wall and go from floor to ceiling: the intention being to keep the heat in and the cold out. They are double lined and were expensive.
This is where my financial acumen comes into play. I am a credit card tart; regularly signing up from 18 month interest free cards. We have a few expensive purchases to make. A new fridge freezer and these curtains. So I apply for a Lloyd s credit card: get an adequate credit limit and 18 months interest free. I buy the fridge freezer, pay by card. We trundle off to John Lewis, purchase the curtains and I present my card and key in my four digits.
It's rejected. I try again it's rejected. I'm dejected, I pull out my non interest free card and pay using that. I assume I've mis-remembered my four digits.
A week later I use the card on line to book a couple of theatre tickets. On line you don't need the key in so I think I'm o.k. Except on three occasions it's rejected. I use another card and the transaction goes through. So it's not the website.
I phone up Lloyd s. I hate making contact with banks. Because of the totally crap rates of interest around I'm moving my money all over the place. Once when the world was nicer than it is now I banked with one bank and they had my checking and savings accounts: they even had my mortgage. But now. I have accounts all over the place. Phoning any bank is a nightmare.
Luckily I was able to answer all their questions without feeling that my collar was being felt. I spoke to a lovely young women ( in the UK, with an English regional accent - extremely important). I explained what had happened. She, in turn, explained that they'd turned down my John Lewis transaction because it was a large amount coming fairly soon after another large amount for a fridge freezer. I then explained that the reason for the credit card was so I could make these expensive, and to my mind, essential purchases. It didn't help to have the transaction rejected.
She went onto explain that they tried to contact me to confirm the transaction but didn't have my phone number. I distinctly recall being asked specifically to provide a contact number for the very purpose of confirming what might appear to be suspect transactions. She confirmed that they had subsequently "turned up" my number. She assured me that any block which had been placed on my account was now removed.
That sorted I made a modest transaction with the card to test whether that was so. It was.
Back to the washing, the painting and the major disruption in our usually well oiled regime. The bathroom has been refreshed, new paint everywhere, every surface spotless and, except for the new bathroom fittings: to be purchased from John Lewis with my now unblocked credit card, complete. The front room is almost there. Michelangelo, aka 'er in doors, has yet to complete the re-imagining of our ceiling and the chimney breast awaits its final coat. Other than that, it's done and dusted and the new JL curtains can be hung - providing the wall holds.
Today, I was to iron the pile that had accumulated and put on another two loads of washing to reduce the festering heap in the wash basket. The missus had intended to complete her masterpiece in the front room... Except she said "let's go and see the Poppies at the Tower of London. Which we did.
Quite exhilarating. The crowds were enormous and the sight of the 800,000 ceramic poppies surrounding the Tower was quite unexpected and magical. It seems to have surprised everyone - the sheer interest and enthusiasm for these gentle delicate flowers. The authorities consistently underestimate the enormous groundswell of love and pride in this nation of ours. I read that 4 million people have seen them so far - amazing. It was the same with the Olympics.
We stunned ourselves about how much we long for an occasion, an excuse to say "We can be brilliant, we can be warm, expansive and proud of who we are".
Such rare occasions go some way to redress the balance for all the crap that gets shoved our way.