Sunday 24 July 2016

All change

Big changes are afoot in Chateau L. Tape measures are out, architects and designers have been visiting, and things we have been meaning to do for about a decade are gradually beginning to take shape. The biggest change of all though is that Mrs L has resigned her commission. After nearly 20 years at the coal face she has decided that she has had enough and jacked it in. I know how she feels, most of us probably do, but she has proactively gone and done it. No, not divorce. She has resigned from her accountancy job.

I remember when I stopped working back in 2009 that it was such a wonderful sense of relief, and I'm sure she feels that too. I was of course sacked due to economic woes and had nothing to do (because looking after children is officially worth nothing in this country) whereas she has big plans. Plans that also involve looking after children, for she has decided to become a teacher. Readers of this blog would probably not think that Mrs L has the necessary skills to be a teacher. You need to be fierce and very strict. You need to tell people off all the time without hesitation. You need to bark orders. Oh, wait.....

She's going to teach A-level maths, and has been studiously revising, essentially redoing her exams from all those years ago. The house is full of quadratic equations, calculus and all sorts of other things that mean nothing to me. In the dim and distant past I do vaguely remember being made to do quadratic equations by a fierce maths teacher, but the years have proved me right and that teacher wrong, as in the intervening 25 years I have had no practical need to ever use one. Telling Mr McConkey that cast-iron prediction got me into trouble in 1989, but the truth always prevails. The poor man died actually, very very young and not long after I'd left that school, and without ever having the chance to apologise. I skipped A-level maths and went the languages route, French and German, which I knew would be useful for life within the European Union..... (Gah!). I have of course worked in a bank ever since, but still without recourse to everything being over 2a.

Utterly useless

So, all that begins in September this year, when Mrs L becomes a student teacher and starts to take her first formative steps in how to be bossy and command total respect. Before that it means the summer this year is a lot more relaxed, without the usual conundrum of what to do with the children. This has coincided with a distinct lull in my normally absurd travel pattern, and so we've been having a really rather nice time just relaxing at home. Oh sorry, my mistake. When I say relaxing what I mean is that we've been running around like blue-arsed flies, doing all the things that we've set to one side over the last ten years whilst we've been busy having full time jobs and being parents. When my own parents note (frequently) that we should move, get an extension done, organise x y and z, I retort that this stage of lives is just too busy for any of that. They nod, recall that their late thirties and early forties were equally busy, and then return to hassling us. But finally things are getting done. Mrs L is organising a loft conversion and a functioning kitchen with cupboard doors that don't fall off when you brush against them. I've sorted out the greenhouse, cut down overhanging tree branches, and weeded the terrace. She has steam-cleaned all of the cupboards, drawers and windowsills upstairs, and I've been round the house sorting through hidden corners and clearing out a decade of ill-advised purchases and things I mistakenly thought might be useful one day. Mrs L has in turn moved 4 years of unopened post from the kitchen counter to somewhere I have not found yet, and I got rid of the manky moth-eaten carpet in our guest room in preparation for the arrival of our new au pair.

Yes, the time has come, we need help. I don't even like having relatives to stay for a weekend, so the thought of somebody else in the house for nearly a whole year is currently giving me kittens. It was actually my idea, but a bit like Brexit voters I didn't expect it to genuinely happen. With my family-friendly working hours and Mrs L's new PGCE course starting later this year, the only practical way to ensure our children's continuing education was to enrol them in breakfast and after-school clubs. These are run by enterprising extortionists all over London. S.P.E.C.T.R.E have nothing on these guys, and two kids attending one of these places for an entire academic year came in at somewhere just shy of ten thousand quid. "Ten grand....", I choked as Mrs L broke the news. "We might as well get an au pair!" I didn't really mean that of course, but it was too late. Once again I was labelled a genius by my entire family, and before I knew it a candidate had been found and an arrival date set. She's Spanish, which will be great for the kids languages, and hopefully doesn't know what a quadratic equation is.

This formula generates my expected mental state in September 2016.

But it does mean a certain amount of domestic reorganisation is needed, which includes the loss of my study / the guestroom, the disposal of decrepit carpets, and fixing the bathroom door which one of our friends broke at our house-warming party in late 2004. This is what I mean when I say we've been busy for a while. It's been on the list, but we just haven't quite got round to it. All that is now changing, energy has refocussed on Chateau L, and things are looking noticeably different. Nicer different. Less cluttered different. And once the building work actually gets done, hopefully fantastically different as the adults will be abandoning the pandemonium of the first floor for the peace and tranquillity of loftier realms. It will of course be hell for a number of months, all happening just when we are at our very busiest and least able to deal with it. But we do chaos very well indeed having had years of practice. In many ways it is all we have ever known.


  1. May surprise you but reckon this is your best post of the year. Genuinely had me laughing out loud to the bemusement of my wife. Similarly, changes afoot at Shithole Randon. Hope to get the place looking less of an embarrassment in our road. Wishing Madame L all the very best in her new career. Good for her!

    1. Cheers Factor! The outside of our house is similarly embarrassing. Keeps the burglars away, plenty of nicer options!

    2. Cheers Factor! The outside of our house is similarly embarrassing. Keeps the burglars away, plenty of nicer options!

    3. Cheers Factor! The outside of our house is similarly embarrassing. Keeps the burglars away, plenty of nicer options!