Miserable in Winchester 03. How To Get A Plumber in Semi-Detached Alley
There comes a time when the War of the Sexes turns into matters of maintenance. Ain´t no excuse, then, for not finding a solution.
Last night „The Comedy Club“ came to town. Every third friday of the month three comedians arrive from London, to share a few laughs.
They share, we laugh. You got to have a laugh once in a while, but I can´t say it comes to me naturally. There´s something about baring teeth. Comedians can be useful, though, one of yesterday´s threesome told us how to start a story. „With a drink“, he said, „ you have to start a story with a drink. This is England, after all. You won´t get far here if you start with, say, a salad.“ –
You have a drink, he continued, you have another one, and then you get on with the important issues of life conveniently arriving in your head just in time. You may become locally philosophical („We didn´t lose the Empire, we just forgot where we fucking put it“). Or you can picture yourself in a country where alcohol is banned - so you can´t help wondering: „How the hell do they breed in this place?“ As I said, it doesn´t come naturally. To me.
Anyway, I feel like telling a story and it has to start with a drink. Problem is, this is the morning after the evening before. Plus, we are in Semi-detached Alley, that very English kind of Middle Class Bliss where two houses are glued together by one wall. Why they do it? Difficult to say. Obviously, you save the cost of building one extra brick wall. Also, it creates a bonding attitude among neighbours – we live the same-ish kind of life, we share same-ish values, we raise 2point4 kids each, we are equal. Ish. Nice, in a way. On the other hand, it is a bit like you and your neighbour walking down the road together, with your left foot being tied to the right foot of the neighbor. Unless it´s his or her left foot, in which case it is my right.
Back to the drink. Not much choice here, early morning in Semi-detached Alley. Got to be tea or coffee. And before that, you got to contemplate a flight of stairs. You sleep upstairs. You make your tea or coffee downstairs. There is no elevator. There is no way around the stairs.
Let´s go. The man to the story came down the stairs, took a sharp left towards the Eating Room and there sat his woman with her cuppa tea, so he stopped. Not much need for descriptions here, people who live in semi-detached houses are pretty much just that, semi-detached. They´ve lived together for longer than they care to mention, they are radically set in their ways, they could go about their routines blindfolded, on autopilot, no problem. They aged with their house, they have grown so old together even sexual intercourse has ceased to create problems. The few problems life might throw at them are age-related. Matters of maintenance, basically.
„I need a dentist for new tooth implants“, he said.
„I need a plastic surgeon for new boobs“, she replied.
„What would you need new boobs for? To put yourself back on the market?“ –
„I could say the same thing about your new teeth.“-
He went from Eating Room to Kitchen, got mug and filter, put the kettle on and reached for the box with the coffee.
„I need new teeth to be able to smile again in public.“ –
„I need new boobs to feel better about my cleavage.“ –
„Isn´t that what your Wonderbra was made for?“-
„There´s dentures for your missing teeth.“-
„Sure, those unspeakable things you take off and put in a glass overnight.“ -
„So what? You´re asleep then!“-
„Are you saying a boobjob is on a par with a set of proper teeth?“-
„Is it not?“-
„`Course not! Tooth-gaps are a social stigma.“-
„So are sagging tits.“-
„Your´s are fine.“-
„Not good enough.“-
He took the kettle, poured hot water onto the mug with the coffee powder in the filter, added sugar and milk, stirred the lot, went back to the Eating Room where she sat with her tea. He grabbed a chair and contemplated his coffee.
„A boobjob is much too expensive“, he said.
„So are tooth implants.“-
„There´s insurance money coming in. That will cover the cost.“-
„Didn´t you agree to give me half of that?“-
„You´ll get some. Not half, though.“ –
„Typical. Talk about keeping promises.“-
„What would you need the money for anyway?“ –
„To pay off a few credit cards, for starters.“ –
„Wouldn´t change a thing. You´d still have a lot of credit cards to pay off. New teeth, on the other hand, would change things completely.“-
„I would feel better about kissing you. For starters.“-
„There´s more important things to be done.“-
„What could possibly be more important?“-
„The downstairs toilet. It is damp. We need a plumber.“ –
He lifted the mug and took a sip.
„Plumbers aren´t cheap, either“, he said.
„Nor are new teeth.“-
„Or new boobs.“-
He took another sip of his coffee, she took a sip of her tea, they put their cups down, they were as close to harmony as it could get.
„What about a compromise, then?“, she said.
„As in …?“ –
„As in no boobs for me and no teeth for you.“ –
„You mean, the plumber?“ –
„The plumber.“ –
„And no proper kisses?“ –
„But a proper toilet.“ –
He finished his drink, put the mug on the Eating Table in the Eating Room and stood up.
„So the plumber it is“, he said.
And thus harmony had again embraced that semi-detached house in Semi-detached Alley with that semi-detached couple in it. Funny thing, life. There will always be problems. There will always be solutions. And then you die.