Follow one crying eye on

About time too!

It appears to be seven weeks since I last attempted to commit my silly little life events to the blogosphere. In previous literary gaps, I have usually started several possible drivellings: perhaps a whimsical list, or a choice anecdote or the jocular retelling of an eventful day – one of which would make it, with editing and mild titivation, onto the website and into the inboxes of my awaiting public.

This time – absolutely nothing. The laptop has been used solely for sourcing essential items for our ‘great build’, the accompanying endless spreadsheeting required to keep track of same, and some TV streaming because our only ‘smart’ television is out of action for the duration until we get our ground floor spaces back.

Yes, we ended up with no fully usable downstairs room, apart from the new understairs cloakroom which whilst being fully operational, had to be shared with the builders and is a tad too small for two armchairs and a telly.

But I am relieved to report a significant milestone. The builders have gone!

Yay, hallelujah and THANK GOD!

They were sweary and untidy to the end, although in fairness they tidied up and retrieved all their belongings before waving us a last goodbye. Their parting shot was to remind us that we could leave them a review. “You’ll have to lie, of course,” they joshed. “Obviously!” was my immediate response. “Hmm – you said that too effing quickly there boss…” “Byeee”

We miss them already. Two quiet weeks later, I am trying valiantly – but possibly unsuccessfully – to return to more moderate language and a less gritty way of life. Sadly there is more grit (or dust anyway) to come, as the painter has now arrived to decorate the whole of the ground floor, but our chosen team for this job does not seem to include loud or sweary types (and if we have misjudged that, as we have misjudged so much over the past few months, I suspect these so-far charming Polish men will cuss in their own language which will hopefully not be quite as immediately offensive as the Anglo-Saxon to which we have almost become inured).

Before asking for a review, Builder P quipped – “Goodbye. It’s been emotional.” He’s not wrong. Oh dear, more than helpfully emotional in my case it seems.

Now, Mr J and I are not generally demonstrative types. Neither of us is naturally argumentative, combative or hotheaded. Whilst we disagree on plenty of things and I admit I can be quite grumpy, we have never had a proper row* and I can think of no more than two occasions on which I have lost it and shouted at him. In nearly 40 years. But I am full of shame to admit that I completely lost it with one of the builders.

It had nothing to do with building and much to do with his endless need to bang on about immigration, ULEZ, the role of women, politics and anything else that might be grabbing the headlines that day. On this particular day it was tax – and specifically pension tax rules – that had got his goat. As it happens, I know a thing or two about tax. I know how it works because I was trained by the UK tax authorities and then worked as a corporate tax practitioner for many years. I also know quite a bit about pension tax, having studied this for my own old-lady purposes in the last 6 years. So, unlike my usual quiet “Er, yes, I suppose so, ” or “Well, I’m not sure about that” before escaping to another room to do more dementia-postponing puzzles or go out for an invigorating walk, this time I decided I would engage and explain how the tax treatment of pension contributions and then pension payments actually works.

Well, I tried. But somehow the conclusion was still that the government just effing lies and effing robs us (his words, not mine). There may have been a further comment or several about “you rich people” or the awful “middle classes” or perhaps these had been along the way beforehand, but I couldn’t take any more of the apparent lack of listening to anything I had said and determined that I would walk away from all this before I got even more upset. I admit I may have been muttering my newly learned vernacular on my exit. And then…

… I fear I may have misheard. Recollections may vary – as someone once said – but for some reason I understood there to be amusement as Builder P claimed success in his bet that boss lady would say the effing F-word before they were done.

That was it. I may have been half-way up the stairs with my dignity just intact, but this was a red rag I simply could not ignore and I stormed back downstairs. There followed a veritable torrent of that F-word – “if you’re going to win your effing bet, I might as well effing do it properly, to your effing face”. Hmm. The look on the other builder’s face said it all. I had misheard, or at least slightly misjudged. (Perhaps… this one I tended to believe and he looked genuinely startled and leapt immediately to his pal’s defence.)

Once again muttering incoherently I made another undignified exit.

No more than one hour later, we shook hands and made up and jointly took some practical patio-related decisions. The discovery of an engraved stone panel underneath the old patio provided a much welcome distraction for the rest of the day.

Oh God, how awkward.

When Mr J much later returned from his day’s sailing (volunteering, not just for his own enjoyment, lest you think he is abandoning me unfairly to the dangers of the building trade), I confessed tearfully to my shameful behaviour. He claimed never to have been so proud! I don’t think he said this to make me feel better – although it most certainly did. My weeks-later recounting of the incident to Daughter J elicited the exact same reaction. Note to self – I’m clearly too meek and have left it far too long to assert myself. Just a shame I chose to do so on a dodgy mis-hearing. Ah well, move on.

I determined to keep this embarrassment to myself – I am still more ashamed than angry. But, the retelling to friends thus far has proved cathartic – and I am also a little ashamed to admit that I have enjoyed the laughter the story has provoked – so I have relented and written this down for posterity.

The inscription that calmed us down, listing the many languages into which Byron’s works are translated. Rest assured, I will not be translating my shame into ANY other languages!

But so far, I have been unable to begin the promised builders’ review. Where the eff should I start???

*to row – meaning to have a heated argument/disagreement. But please note that the more usual meaning in Jillings’ world would be “to propel with oars.” 





Follow one crying eye on