12/15/2005

Like Father, Like Son

'Two Bloggers And A Washing Machine' sounds more like the title of a piece of student theatre rather than a description of an actual event, but such a scene was enacted in The Gnome's Lair yesterday, when The Sober Thistle and I actually built something together for the first time I can ever recall.
Dad is a retired headmaster who combined running a primary school in the most deprived part of Europe with a not unsuccessful career as an educational journalist and Catholic affairs commentator. Since retiring four years ago he has not stopped moving, a state of affairs exacerbated by the consequences of a very serious bout of ill-health suffered by my mother only a few months after he last tolled the school bell.
We share one vital character trait in common- although we are both perfectly capable of doing many things, some of them we just cannot be bothered doing. One of these is assembling washing machines.
When The She-Gnome and I purchased the Gnome's Lair in March, we did not realise that the kitchen had been designed around the washing machine - not, as one might expect, the washing machine around the kitchen. The consequences of this caused considerable difficulty when the washing machine we inherited from the previous owner, who had since emigrated to Bulgaria, started emitting sparks when on full spin. This breakdown in turn started an almost Homeric journey towards the acquisition of a new washing machine, which included such characters and places as the launderette managed by the old lady with the pierced nose, a loquacious handyman called Archie - and the delivery men who were meant to hook up and install; but didn't.
Now the She-Gnome does not do disappointment well, particularly that kind of disappointment after three months of spending Saturday mornings at the launderette; so one felt as if stuck between Scylla and Charybdis when Dad, who was on delivery duty, phoned me at work and in that loathed and hated cheery West of Scotland way announced that 'the washing machine's sitting in the hallway'! - and I could almost hear the merest hint of triumph in his voice; the one that was saying, "And what are you going to do about it?'
I muttered to myself that it's no fuckin' use sitting there, and to my father that I was coming home.
Remember Dad was a headmaster. They never retire! Ever! Like the shark that gets Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea, he was on to me!
"What are you leaving your work for?"
"To fix the washing machine!" I told him, very quietly and calmly.
"She'll go berserk if she sees it there, she'll go berserk if she sees it there, she'll go berserk if she sees it there", I found myself repeating on the train. When I got home, I discovered that the hook-up and install deal was dependent on the delivery men being able to get the washing machine into the kitchen in the first place - and whether by accident or design the She-Gnome hadn't factored the width of the kitchen door into her calculations.
So off came the kitchen door, in itself a leap of faith dependent for its success on our ability to get it on again; and our Odyssey really began. With a little heaving and hauling, the washing machine was removed from the hallway to the kitchen, and after a great deal of studied deliberation (we only grabbed each other by the throat once), the unit was installed and fully plumbed and the kitchen door reinstated from its temporary purdah.
At one point, I had to go out to purchase a Jubilee clip. I suggested to Dad that he should sit in the front room and watch the cable TV for 15 minutes; he says he doesn't want it, but the truth is that my mother won't let him get it. When I got back, he had vacuumed the hallway and cleared up the debris left by the delivery men. I asked him why he had done this, and he replied, "I was always a workaholic".
Indeed he is - just like his son.