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Drying Lego

I wonder, sometimes, how I can be so foolish. Perhaps it’s the giddy windy weather setting me in a spin. Whatever the reason, I have been galvanised into clearing my office, which still, to all intents and purposes, looks like my son’s bedroom. 

Said son moved out several years ago, and this room has been my main daytime abode throughout two long pandemic years. I have raised with him the need to reduce the number of books, toys and clothes of his which we still house here. Anything he truly wants to keep but cannot currently accommodate in his shared flat, we can crate up carefully and secrete in the loft space – which we are currently freeing up by a process of slow winnowing and mutual grumbling, but progress is most definitely being made and we are making some delightful discoveries along the way. More of this another day.

Yesterday, however, seized by a ridiculous urge, I grabbed a large red plastic bucket of assorted Lego which has been stuffed down the side of my desk for ever, with the aim of offloading it either to a Charity Shop or a gullible neighbour. It has been lurking beneath the scrappy cardboard box which contains three dust-mottled half-empty bottles of evil-looking exotic alcoholic drinks (at least one of which I may have brought back from one of my many work-related jaunts back in the day), several assorted cables for long-forgotten handheld games or phones, numerous scrappy receipts, a leaflet explaining how to play Labyrinth and a trombone mute. (Don’t ask!) There are undoubtedly other items in this box but at present I feel unable to probe more deeply. Might need an actual hurricane to make me as giddy as that!

Back to the Lego. This is where I fear I became totally deranged. I tipped the contents onto the carpet. Halfway through this manoeuvre I remembered where this Lego bucket – which has no lid – had previously been housed. It sat, for many years, in the bedroom fireplace and, on similarly windy days or torrential rain, would receive sprinklings of mortar from the chimney stack. All of which was now deposited on the carpet, and quite clearly adhered liberally to every single brick.

I had to leave the room for a while.

Later, energised by a sneaky jam tart and accompanied by the smart new vacuum cleaner, I returned to the pile of rubble and resisted the urge to sweep the whole lot into the bin and be done with it. But I am made of sterner stuff, and it amused me that these plastic bricks did in fact now resemble a demolition site more accurately than in pristine condition. I determined to do the right eco-thing and clean these bricks so that they can be enjoyed by a new generation of kinder-Bobs.

I fetched a plastic bowl of soapy water. The cat was confused. He doesn’t like items of furniture or equipment changing position around the house – and has a deep suspicion of water on the move.

So, he left me to it, and I began laboriously dunking the bricks – largest pieces first – into the bowl and then wiping them dry with a tea-towel. Except that they didn’t dry properly at all. The raised blobs on the upper surface could easily be dealt with, and the outer flat sides too, but the tiny spaces around those blobs was trickier, and the towel made no discernible useful impact whatsoever on the interiors. Maybe I’d best leave them to somehow drain.

I rapidly realised that squatting on the bedroom floor and transferring each brick from floor, to bowl, to towel was going to take forever. Not one to boast an excess of patience, I gathered all of the pieces – apart from a few rogue Duplo bricks and a couple of orphan Playmobil firemen – and chucked them into the no-longer-quite-so-soapsuddy water. This exercise would be better completed in the kitchen, where I could stand at the sink and place the clean items on a series of towels on one of the work surfaces.

Two hours later, I realised it should have been suppertime and I was still somehow absorbed with my Danish construction activity. Whilst waiting for the wretched things to dry (which they stubbornly refused to do), I had of course resorted to trying to group the different colours and shapes in order to identify what particular models they were intended to make. The plastic bucket had a list of original contents on the side, most of which I could see – but there were several other kits in here. Or parts of them.

At a critical moment (who am I kidding? – this was just one long pointless waste of time) the cat determined that it was indeed his supper time and launched himself onto the nearest work surface to more than mild surprise at how many tiny bricks he could dislodge and scatter across the tiled floor, thus undoing any semblance of regimentation I had so far achieved. At the same time, he proved that the drying process had largely failed, as the resulting dispersal was accompanied by liberal watery deposits. 

My stomach triumphed and I poured all the ‘sorted’ larger bricks, base-plates and figurines into the ready-sponged bucket, and then the tiniest pieces (which might be dangerous for a three-year old or a cat – oh how virtuous am I?) into a small plastic bag, and switched my focus to food.

When I later moved the plastic bucket into the ‘holding area’ which is our living room, I realised I could still get a whiff of pencil shavings and gravel – the same aroma that you find in most second-hand and Charity shops. No doubt there will be some top-notes of damp-mould too by the time we get these out of the house.

Unless anyone has a magic way of drying the wretched things. With zero effort on my part.

On a more positive note, I have received permission to chuck away the old alcohol bottles. So no doubt my next plea for help will be for ways in which to remove the garish red stain of Fuoco dell’ Etna from my sink! 



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