I do sometimes take a break from writing in order to engage with the Real World – and in so doing I think I’ve discovered a new law of nature. Have you ever noticed that every time you need a Phillips screwdriver all you can find are straight ones but should you ever actually need a straight one your entire stock of screwdrivers will have become stubbornly cross-headed? I’ve found this to be true time and time again, and it’s my belief they change in the tool box. As soon as they see you doing a job they say, ‘Quick lads! She’s looking for a straight one today!’ and hey presto, they hybridise like bluebells so that all you can find is an array of gleaming cross-heads.
Not that my tools do gleam – they sort of sulk a bit and rust under the armpits. But despite these obstacles I decided yesterday that it was time to change the doorbell. It has got to the point where unless someone hammers on the door like a bailiff come to distrain all your worldly goods (lovely word that, distrain) we don’t know there’s anyone there. The ancient discoloured object in situ used to emit a plaintive two-tone whimper but can now barely manage a wheezy monotone. This must cease. Visitors must be acknowledged. Doors must be opened.
The new doorbell is frighteningly loud and efficient and vibrates on a frequency which not only sets off all the other alarms in the house but probably disrupts pacemakers and police radios. Still, at least we know there’s someone at the door.
And I did eventually find a cross-headed screwdriver. But not until after I too had become very cross-headed.