I have a precious Friday off, and grand plans to accomplish, but have been stymied at the outset by the idiosyncracies of our elderly washing machine, which has taken to spouting jets of soapy water from various of its orifices across the kitchen floor mid-wash, with no advance notice and without so much as a by your leave. Faced with this alarming prospect I have no choice but to abandon my initial plan of leaving the machine to its own devices for a couple of hours and setting off to the allotment, and must stay here instead to watch over the capricious apparatus and try to prevent it flooding the house.
This rebellion of the washing machine is merely the most recent development in what appears to be a concerted insurrection being mounted against us by some unholy federation of supposedly labour-saving or relaxation-inducing devices. The ringleader, I suspect, is the telly, which a few weeks ago developed artistic tendencies and unilaterally decided to play about with its colour pallet. This made the experience of following the World Snooker Champioships rather challenging, as the red balls would suddenly all turn blue half way through a frame, and the black one pink, and Ronnie O'Sullivan would suddenly be wearing a claret suit and his skin would have turned an unearthly shade of green. At other times the effect was more pleasing- an intermittent 'tint' effect caused everyday scenes, such as the One Show studio or the weather forecast, to take on the air of iconic BlueNote Jazz covers of the 1960s featuring cool Harlem doods in sharp suits leaning on forty-foot long saloon cars outside of tenement buildings, with a trombone in one hand and an unfiltered 'Gauloise' in the other.
The telly's lead has been followed, predictably enough, by the computer, whose keyboard has been attacked by ants (at least that's Frankie's theory) causing several of the keys to become loose and wobbly. The 'n' key is particularly problematic and needs to be hammered at several times before it will yield any result, and the Caps Lock has fallen off entirely. The effect is to play complete havoc with the Gas Board correspondence clerk standard touch typing speed of which I am inordinately proud, and each of these here sentences is taking approximately three times too long to chystallise on the screen. I am feeling slightly sorry for myself as a result and bemoaning the obstacles that the malfunctioning modern world is putting in the way of my artistic expression. Altogether I think it was more straightforward when writers were forced by law to live half-starving in garrets (whatever they were) and scrawl out their manuscripts long hand onto scraps of paper with a blunt pencil, occasionally emerging into the freezing Scandinavian air to attempt to waylay the editor in his handsome greatcoat and seek a five Kroner advance. Starvation? That lucky bastard Knut Hamsen didn't know he was born.
Faced with such existential challenges, we are following the only course consistent with decency or indeed sanity, and going on holiday. We're off on a ferry, train and coach adventure to the land of possibly fascist biscuits again, this time accompanied by some friends (a family with a boy Frank's age, so the two nine-year olds will be running off to buy trinkets at the campshop with their 50 cent pieces, snorkel in rockpools, etc and we probably won't see them for hours on end) and we are quite unbelievably excited at the prospect. I've been reading 'France Football' magazine in preparation and will be able to hold my own in any market bar-room conversation with retired fishermen on their third early afternoon glass of cognac, as I am fully acquainted with the boardroom machinations at Paris St Germain, as well as the fall-out from the twenty year anniversary of the Valenciennes-Marseille matchfixing 'scandale'.
For now though- if you will excuse me, there is a rather alarming racket emanating from the kitchen, and the unseasonal wind is blowing assorted debri all across the front garden. I think I need to check that large swathes of the house are not under four feet of soapy water, then go and dig my onion patch, then go and buy a cardigan or snowsuit or some other suitable Northern European summer holiday attire (I told you I had grand plans, did I not?). A bientot.