The benefits of travel are enormous and especially important if your experience is confined to a rock that is twenty one by fourteen miles. If only our people travelled more then they might be less afraid of the pesky immigrants crashing through their borders. This became clear when the nice man who came to fix our stove took one look at our statute of Buddha pouring water into a small pond and exclaimed,
‘It’s a representation of Buddha’ I said.
‘You Muslim?’ he retorted.
I really needed to get this conversation back to the flaming stove.
‘I am not religious but people who worship Buddha are called Buddhists.’
He screwed up his face, assumed The Prancing Grasshopper pose and growled,
‘I know dat! Dat Bruce Lee, Kung Fu ting!’
‘Great. Now, do you have the part the stove needs?’
And I need the stove to be in perfect working condition because it is the summer vacation and First and Second Born appear to be going through a growth spurt. How else can one explain the mountains of food they consume? Every minute of the 69 days, 8hours that school is officially closed has to be carefully orchestrated with some activity a long way from the kitchen like golf or squash, just to distract them from eating. The North American tradition of packing their suitcases and waving them off to a camp where they will learn such life skills as handling a kayak, or killing a mosquito Obama-style, is beginning to look very attractive. In the meantime I am stuck cooking three full meals a day and providing snacks in between.
So when my birthday rolled round this week I demanded a cooking-free day. My delightful parents came over bearing Chinese take-away and a present. They gave me an oven.
‘What do you mean this oven is my present? I didn’t put this on my Amazon wish list!’
‘Your mother knows you really needed an oven sweetheart.’ replied Papa calmly.
I fought back the tears.
‘So what’s it going to be next year? ‘A super-duper vacuum cleaner?’
‘Do you want the new Dyson vacuum dear?’
Is it any wonder the first two years of therapy are spent talking about your mother?
When I finally mopped up the puddle of tears I had wept at getting older and getting an oven I looked around at the rest of the appliances and realized Da Costa Manning had still not repaired the new freezer I had bought from them. The thing had worked for three months then refused to get cold. That was March. I was tired of being fobbed off week after week so decided it was time to deploy the only weapon that works in getting things done in Bim: an assertive man. Ladies, before you stamp on my bunions consider the number of times you have asserted your rights only to realize that your voice is only heard if it is attached to a body with a penis (size irrelevant).
The Husband was marched down to the department store. First Born pulled him aside to offer some advice.
‘If they don’t fix our freezer tell the manager you will call his mother.’
Armed with this ace, and the awareness that sexism may be in decline, he approached the store manager. She did the same polite “we are waiting for the parts” routine. Then the magic began.
‘Would you agree that waiting for the parts for three months is unacceptable?’ he asked in his mild but firm voice.
‘Sir, we are doing all we can.’ (I was never Ma’am!)
‘That is not what I asked. Do you agree that waiting for the parts for three months is unacceptable?’ he insisted.
‘Sir, I am going to call the port tomorrow morning and call you tomorrow morning with what I find out.’ she replied.
‘I’m sorry that is not what I asked. Do you agree that waiting for the parts for three months is unacceptable?’
‘Yes it is unacceptable.’ she sighed.
‘So when you call me tomorrow morning, if you do not have the part will you instead offer me a solution to this unacceptable position?’
We were offered an action plan to be implemented within twenty-four hours.
But there was no need. They turned up early the next morning with the impossible-to-locate parts and fixed our freezer.
I’m off to bake the family a cherry pie.