But things don’t quite go as Mr D is expectingÉ
It seems that Mr Dear has been on
the internet again
The secret to writing a weekly report of one’s domestic adventures is having a ready supply of domestic adventures on which to report. Most of the time, my family and friends have risen pluckily to the occasion. But life here in recent months has made Bridget Jones’s Diary look about as interesting as a guide to trigonometry by the winner of the Dullest Trigonometry Teacher of the Year competition.
You have read here about naughty Alan, who cut a swathe through the womenfolk of the local shops before ending up with Clare’s mother (Clare being our youngest volunteer, and her mother being an old family friend of Alan’s). You have read about Mrs Beasley, who bumped into Mr Right at a bookshop before bonding with him over Thomas Hardy. And there is, of course, the ongoing on-off romance between Clare and our other young volunteer Ben.
But sometimes there are weeks in which the domestic adventures round here just aren’t that adventurous.
‘Just thought I’d let you know,’ said Mr Dear, bringing a cup of tea to the spare room, where I was staring at a blank computer screen, ‘I’m going to clear out the garage.’
‘Well, that’s never going to make 900 words, is it?’
‘I said, “Thanks for the tea.”’
‘Oh, my pleasure. Writing going well, is it?’ ‘Not really. I don’t suppose that, while you’re clearing out the garage, you and Indiana Jones are likely to discover an ancient and powerful relic that you must protect from sinister Russian agents or evil Aztec warlords?’
‘No, I don’t suppose so. Sorry about that.’ ‘Never mind,’ I said. ‘Any biscuits left?’
The reason Mr Dear is cleaning out the garage is that I happened to wander in last week in search of some torch batteries.
Normal families keep their batteries in a small drawer in the kitchen that is full of bits and pieces they will never use: ancient hairgrips, keys that don’t fit any known locks, old fuses, elderly elastic bands. Unlike normal families, we keep ours in a box in the garage, which means that the lady of the house, when in search of a battery, must first trip over the hedge cutter before knocking her head on some rotten onions – which are, for some reason, hanging from a beam. This is because our garage is like a version of Aladdin’s cave, assuming that Aladdin has given up the lamp-and-genie business and opened up a junkyard.
We have a dozen old bicycle tyres (because Mr D believes they will one day come in useful). We have the motor from an old fridge (because Mr D believes it will one day come in handy). We have an old-fashioned pram, which a neighbour was throwing out (Mr D spotted it, and thought he may one day recondition it!).
There are bicycles that children have long, long outgrown. There’s a set of golf clubs that used to belong to Mr D’s grandfather. There’s a croquet set so old that a member of the cricket club was throwing it out (Mr D thought he might one day restore it).
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Fearing that Mr D might emerge from the garage empty-handed, having decided that everything – even the rotten onions – might come in useful, I decided to supervise.
However, Mr D was not in the garage. He was in the kitchen, cutting up a watermelon. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m cutting up a watermelon’.
Ask a silly question…
‘Yes, but why?’
‘I’m about to make watermelon juice.’ ‘Why are you making watermelon juice?’ ‘It’s not illegal, is it? Surely a British householder can stand in his kitchen on a Tuesday morning and make himself some watermelon juice, can’t he? I mean, this isn’t a police state.’
‘Don’t be annoying. Why are you making watermelon juice?’
It seems that Mr Dear has been on the internet again. The last time, he started drinking beetroot juice because he read that it made his arteries more flexible (or something), and may be good for his liver.
He gave this up after a month because, under any constitution, drinking seven glasses of beetroot juice a week must be a ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.
However, the internet has now taught him that watermelon juice – which is tastier than beetroot juice – does much the same sort of thing.
‘But I thought you were cleaning out the garage?’ I ventured.
‘I am going to clean out the garage. But I thought I’d make myself some of this first. Instead of a coffee. You scoop out half a watermelon, like so, and put it in the juicer, adding some lemon or lime juice. Like so…’
Only, job done, Mr D was struggling to get the top back off the juicer. It was like watching Jamie Oliver’s grandfather. ‘There’s probably a knack to it…’
‘Of course there’s a knack to it. Just give it to me.’
‘Hang on, it’s a bit wet. I’ll just try it with this tea towel…’
So he tried it with the tea towel, giving the top such a powerful wrench that it suddenly came away with quite a force.
There is no husband, in my experience, who looks at his best wearing a litre of watermelon juice with a touch of lemon or lime juice to taste.
‘Perhaps,’ he said, ‘I won’t bother with the watermelon juice after all.’