A day of comings and goings on Wednesday started with the OM expecting me to share the experience of going to order ten tons of manure from Dimmer. I told him I was waiting in for the heating engineers to come and replace our Alpha Cooker, which had him nonplussed and he had to revise his plans. After a long pause he concluded that he would be able to deliver the cheque himself to the manure-mongers. An hour later we were the proud recipients of a large pile of well-rotted compost.
Next up was a lunch date at the Stag’s Head where we were joining Claire’s Dad’s 90th birthday celebrations. With no sign of heating engineers, or our new stove, we left a note for them to call us when they arrived. Arriving at the pub to find no mobile reception, I was despatched home to change the note for the engineers to call the pub.
As I pulled out, the oil man arrived to fill our tank – which always pisses off car drivers who are looking to take a short cut along a our lane – it becomes a very long cut as they wait fro the tanker to finish. We love it. So, manure and oil in – just the cooker to come.
But still no Alpha men.
Just after I had finished my attempt on some lasagne at the Stag’s Head (nicely defrosted and warmed through, though with such a lot of cheese on the top I thought they had left part of the packaging on), the Laurel and Hardy of the plumbing and heating world called. I returned to make sure they had not been dismembered by our rampant guard dogs. They were fine – and admitted that they had thought of calling us to say they were running late, but it slipped their minds. With that piece of customer service to boost my confidence in their skills, it was back to the Stag’s to wade through my creme brulee – served in a chipped pot and, in proper mock gastro-pub style, completely ruined by chucking some raspberries in the bottom.
I picked the pips out of my teeth as Richard gave a thoughtful speech reflecting on his father’s principled approach to life (based on the cub scouts handbook), while the 90-year-old birthday boy addressed the throng in typically teasing fashion, thanking his whole family before – belatedly – acknowledging the support, selflessness and kindness of his wife (to ironic laughter). I rushed back to find Stan and Olly trying to manhandle the ½ ton cast iron replacement cooker into the kitchen. It was not easy. Indeed, as Stan said to me “there’s been a bit of collateral damage” as he looked around a room that could have been a scene from the Syrian Government bombardment of Homs.
Not surprisingly they did not complete the job on Wednesday, and had to come back yesterday. Of course they did not arrive till midday, as they had to get another job done first (Why, one might ask, is our job, the one you were supposed to finish yesterday, not your priority?). Give them their due, when they finally finished the job, they kindly put back one of the kitchen units alongside the stove. Shame they managed to rip three legs off it in doing so, which I had to extract, replace and put back in myself. Farcical.
Anyway, it’s all better now. Apart from the wall which had a round hole punched in it where they managed to push the door handle through it. This was extended by Ella the lab who decided she would try to get as much insulation out of it. But we do have a new (used) cooker, a full tank of oil and ten tons of high-grade compost waiting to be spread over the garden.