22 November 2010

Easy Come, Easy Go

Where's my coat ?

I was shaken awake at 4.30am and asked if I wanted a cup of tea. ‘I’d prefer some more sleep please’, was my response. Why does she do that, I was thinking as I set my electric blanket at ‘2’ and pulled the duvet up to my chin.

I resurfaced at about 9am and the house was in perfect peace. Guy and Kitty had gone off to school and J had disappeared off to Italy with her pals. It was idyllic. The sun was even shining.

I read the papers on the internet, gave Shadow his medicine and before I knew it, it was 10am and the postman was outside beeping his horn which means a parcel is about to be unloaded. The previous day it had been a Marks and Spencer ‘relief’ parcel – you know – knickers, polo shirts, jeans, Xmas cards, creams, potions etc, etc. But today it was clearly a mop. You could tell from the shape. Either that or it was a single crutch – the Long John Silver type!  I was sure it was a mop though. J had bought one in Spain a couple of years ago and it had transformed the cleaning of our  ceramic floor tiles which cover the house but unfortunately, as with most things these days, it had started to fall apart and despite looking everywhere we just couldn’t find a replacement. J wanted to arrange a two week holiday in Spain so she could get another but being the sensible type, I suggested she just look on Amazon and hey presto – there it was!

Along with the mop, the postie handed me a pile of envelopes. I feared the worst. Our local resident’s tax (Taxe d’Habitation) was overdue and sure enough, the tell-tale stamps on the outside of the envelope confirmed that it had finally arrived.

I put the envelope down on the coffee table and looked at it. The tax people had taken a few years to work out we’d built a new house and our tax had been going up and down as they calculated what we should pay and reclaimed the back tax. I’d budgeted €3,000 for this year but it could be anything – well anything from €3,000 to €5,000. Eventually I ripped open the envelope – result - €2,700! I was €300 to the good and whilst it’s not a life-changing sum, as they say every five minutes on the telly – ‘every little helps’.

It was too early to celebrate by having a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau so I kissed Shadow and hopped, skipped and jumped outside to work on Sam’s car. I’d taken it for its 2-yearly check on the Thursday and it had failed, not surprisingly as it had been lying unused in her drive for 6 months and was a Range Rover Freelander – a dog of a car if ever there was one. Sam’s ex had bought the Freelander at the same time we had bought the Honda and over the last ten years, we’ve not paid out a single penny in mechanical related faults whilst the Freelander has soaked up thousands and thousands. A true dog of a car!

The car had failed because of a faulty headlamp (which I  thought I’d checked) and a dangerous fuel leak which had not been apparent the previous day when we’d taken it to La Gaude, but the mechanic showed me the dripping fuel and issued a ‘fail’ notice. This was going to be a long, horrible repair job.

Straight away, I found a replacement headlamp bulb in the boot (trunk for some of you) and within thirty minutes of taking bits of the engine off, I’d discovered the source of the fuel leak – some perished pipes. I was ecstatic. The pipes would cost next to nothing and it would take five minutes to fit them. Two ‘results’ in one day. Life was indeed good.

The sun was still shining after a nice lunch on the terrace and it didn’t seem long before the kids arrived home from school. Then J’s car, the ever reliable Honda, roared into the drive scattering my beautifully raked gravel everywhere – why does she do this?

As soon as she appeared with a grin like a Cheshire cat on her face, and rushed up and kissed me, I knew something was wrong. ‘Oh darling  - thank you for my beautiful birthday present’, she gushed.
‘Birthday present? I thought we’d agreed this year that birthday presents were out? I didn’t get one in February’, I complained.

‘But I couldn’t resist it. It’s real fox fur and it only cost – guess darling – what do you think it cost?’

‘Oh I don’t know - €1200 euros?’

‘Don’t be silly darling – it’s a used one.’

‘Used by a fox at one time no doubt,’ was my rather sarcastic reply. ‘OK – I’ll say €200.’

‘Nearly. He wanted €450 but I managed to get him down to €300.’

Working out that my tax saving had disappeared in a flash, a minute later I was on the terrace with a large glass of Beaujolais Nouveau and a cigarette thinking – why does she do that?

No comments: