Precautions March 23, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Working and not playing seems, logically enough, to reap financial rewards. Skintness seems to be at its lowest level in weeks which means I’m allowing myself to do all sorts of daringly entertaining things, like paying bills on time, indulging in a spot of fantasy-flight surfing and, goddammit, even occasionally leaving the house. Mind you, hijinks have a cost all of their own. Snowy the god of snow is in an especially playful mood these days and is sporadically sending us the odd sprinkle. Which means the streets are full of puddles. The Russian and I had popped out for a quick spot of hijinkery and just to prove that I was in exceptionally high spirits at having left the house – I think we’d gone to the supermarket – I decided to jump in a puddle. To make a splash. What could mean fun more than splashing in a puddle? Except I must have got my angle of entry wrong because rather than it splashing outwards, as I had expected it to, the icy water splashed with perfect verticality clean up my legs, which meant effectively wearing a pair of ice-trousers, which was one of the least pleasant experiences I’ve had, and I’ve had a few (though I can’t really think of any, actually, apart from toothache).
Anyway, what with the hijinks, the lack of worry that an unpaid bill would have brought, a drop more leisure time than normal and life bordering fleetingly on the pleasant, the Russian’s mind is working double-shifts with voluntary unpaid overtime to think up loathsome tasks to cancel out the niceness. Occasionally I am winded by the frequency of his requests which seems to have nothing in common with actual need. How can he be asking me again to sweep the murky area where my feet hang out under the very desk I am sitting at now when I must have done it not more than some months ago and everyone knows that dust accrues only annually? I actually saw my beloved whoop for joy when our pet hoover died just as I was taking it out for a walk around our flat. (I think the way I could step on that pedal and make it suck its tail in at speed is man’s greatest technological advance.) Without a hoover, after all, the only solution is to sweep. Down on knees with dustpan and brush. That’s much more horrid labour than mere hoovering. And ergo, or, rather, Russian ergo, a very good thing.
Clap, clap, clap, the Russian will clap as he walks into a room that I am lounging in quietly. It is nothing to do with applause and everything to do with conveying to me that all this sitting around, relaxing, is very worthy of discouragement. “Ve oll laik to seet and do naasink. Not vörk, not eat,” he might say. “So the 23-hour days every day for the last month don’t count, then?” “Yes, but zat feeneesh tventy minutes ago.” And he’ll whizz off, clapping his hands until he has to stop to pick up a cloth to polish something with. “Put voshink avay.” Clap, clap, clap. “Put papyers avay.” Clap, clap, clap. “Sveep.” Clap, clap, clap. I lock the living-room door and explain that it’s all part of a very complicated keyhole-cleaning process.
So I was put on bathroom bin duty. The bathroom bin is, of course, only an interim bin. When something is hurled into the bathroom bin, that is just the start of its post-use career. All the inside bits of loo-roll that we don’t use to make toys with we throw in there and then, when the bin is overflowing or when I have been nagged enough to do it, it will graduate from there to the paper bin in the kitchen. From there, it will eventually go to the house’s paper bin in the yard. Then, once every two weeks, as the notes stuck up all around the hall this week explain with considerable alarm, the boys in blue – not the police – will come and pick it up and take it onto the climax of its recycling life.
I moped from the bathroom to the kitchen. Began the glamorous task of sorting rubbish. Inner bit of loo roll. Paper bin. Empty shampoo bottle. Plastics. Ooh, another inner bit of loo roll. Plastics. Oh, fuck, no, paper. (Fished it out. Corrected my error.) A cotton-bud. Ooh, where do they go? Probably the non-descript bin. And on and on. I worked myself through the pile. And came across a condom.
Now I’m always encouraging the Russian to have affairs. “Have an affair, darling,” I’ll say, when there’s a moment’s silence between the claps. “I’m 74. Much too old to tend to your needs. And you’re only 19 or something. Have an affair, darling.” “I not vont khev affair.” “Oh, darling, honestly, don’t be so conservative.” But coming across a condom shattered my delusions of modernity. I grimaced, held the offending item at distance as if it was a smelly sock and went to find the Russian. I prepared my best Gwyneth Paltrow English accent, pulled back the shower curtain (for he was showering, to excellent dramatic effect) and asked, “Darling, are you having an affair?”
“Vot you doing? Vot? Vot zat? Srow it avay.”
“Darling, are you having an affair? Why else is there a condom in our bin? And I know it’s not from us because couples don’t have sex in March, obviously. Are you bringing men home HERE?”
“How could I khev affair? You never leave khouse. It’s from them,” he said, motioning towards the living room from the shower.
“Them? What them? There isn’t any them.”
“Them. Our gyests from last veek.”
Our guests from last week whom I’d clean forgotten. The realisation that I was holding my friend’s condom in my hand made me grimace more fiercely, the Russian grimace with me and both of us holler yuk-like noises for the next three hours. I dropped it back in the bathroom bin and tried to put the incident out of my mind.
Just as well, really. Wouldn’t have known which bin to recycle it in anyway. Bio or packaging?