Friday, November 28, 2008

Every cloud engenders not a storm

Pants West


I heard there’s a storm approaching. I heard it will be fierce. As I gaze blissfully at the pantorama of, I don’t know, how many degrees are there before your neck starts to ache? – I can’t imagine it. The skies are as innocent as they are azurely cloudless and the sun is fixing to set without incident. Yet I’ve heard it on good authority that the heavens will rage and hurl down upon us balls of ice that wouldn’t look out of place in an Oliver Reed G&T. So I’ve locked the pantibago in the shed, dragged the pantoys in from the deck, stocked up on candles, plasticated water and Tim Tams. I’ve got a battery radio, a wind-up torch and enough sauvignon blanc and croissants to last for three days – or a week if life truly threatens. I’ve never made a case of wine last for a week before but I’m sure it’s doable in an emergency.

And I bought a mattress. In the world of me, this is fairly big news. Regular readers may recall that when Barney and I launched ourselves upon an unsuspecting world this time last year, I jettisoned the entirely serviceable but twenty year-old and frankly a little discoloured Warren Evans ticking-coated plank on which I had never had a bad night’s sleep. I did feel at the time that I couldn’t really claim I’d lived in Hackney unless I’d left at least one mattress on the street. All the way through India, I experienced blissful nights on a succession of firm to the point of surly mattresses. I know what I like and approached the task of securing a new sleeping platform with a consumer confidence rare to someone as generally purchase-averse as I.

Problem. Nearly all mattresses now come with such a high relief of spongy embossed bits as to make the Elgin marbles look flat. Further problem, these make even a firm mattress feel soft and worse, cost rather more money than a mattress decently should. My entreaties to various bedding sales people, who incredulously regarded themselves as experts on my nocturnal comfort, that I wanted a firm mattress were brushed away with the entirely uninformed view that I would have back problems if my mattress was too hard. I have never had a back problem in my life and have always slept on a sturdy, no frills mattress. It’s difficult to ascertain what part of this robustly tested equation they found flawed. The only other explanation for this intransigence is that people who work in bedding shops have all had their brains replaced with a limited amount of specific product information and are unable to engage a critical thinking facility when it is appropriate to do so. Or, seriously, they are too shit thick to fathom that all they really need to do is sell the customer what she wants to buy. Difficult? Apparently.

After being summarily shunned from bedding shops the length of eastern Victoria, I happened past a small furniture outlet right here in Larrikin’s End that had a row of half-price mattresses out the front. The firmest was duly laid out right there on the shop floor for me to test, much to the amusement of other locals. Fortuitously, the concrete was more of a match for the workmanlike slatted pine Warren Evans bed that I had had the good sense to cart across the globe than the cumbersome and probably incompatibly spongy bed bases on which I had been attempting to lie in the specialist stores. After exchanging a modest wad of cash for my address, the mattress was despatched and arrived at Seat of Pants before I’d had time to get up the hill and screw Warren Evans back together again. I was sleeping well enough in a sleeping bag on the floor but it’s very nice to be at the same level as my sea view. I am once again in slumber sanctuary.

To enhance my comfort even further, I’ve intuited a way of attaching the Seat of Pants home entertainment system to the wall via an international electrical adaptor plug so I can play the vast collection of three for £20 HMV DVDs that I amassed in my final days in Britain. If the power fails, I’ve got The White Tiger – birthday present from Sis Pants to read. I’ve also secured a copy of Gods Behaving Badly whose author Marie Phillips used to blog as Struggling Author before her publishing deal rendered the tag redundant. Because she was from Hackney, hers was one of the first blogs that fell under the Pants radar. I followed with interest her parlous (for a well-connected bookseller) attempts to be noticed. Now her book has turned up in the Larrikin’s End Library. Fame at last Marie – and a full circle as Pants will finally get to read it.


The anticipated tempest raged all weekend and Seat of Pants mostly survived the deluge apart from a mysterious puddle on my bedroom floor that could not be linked to a corresponding water source and I can only assume is a typical Barney attempt to cloak his incessant covert activity in natural phenomena. One of my copious yet pointless smoke detectors chose Friday night to protest about not getting nearly enough attention by staging a hissy fit manifesting as an intermittent, strangled squeal that threatened to sever my sanity permanently. Initial attempts to solve the problem by destroying said smoke detector were severely hampered by its celestial location. Why I ever thought a cathedral ceiling was a good idea, I can’t imagine. Still I literally gave it my best shot. By standing on a coffee table and armed with a broom, I was able to knock the cover off and, if I hadn’t blacked out, I honestly believe I might have dislodged the battery eventually.

When I came to on Saturday morning, finding headphones seemed like a better idea than resuming hostilities with the safety apparatus. I duly located a pair of earmuff-style Technics, gathered all available entertainments and closed my bedroom door on the hubris happening in the hall. By Monday I had miraculously, in the circumstances, constructed a course of action. I found a local handyman called Newton who not only replaced my errant smoke bloke but replaced the phoney taps in my laundry that leaked the minute I tried to attach my washing machine. The wonderful Newton is not empowered to replace electrical plugs as he is not an electrician. Somehow that struck me as odd. But I do have peace, quiet and clean washing.

fur flies


And now there’s vertical lightning and another storm approaching. A short while ago, a rather attractive seal-point Persian cat (pictured) appeared at the trade entrance to Seat of Pants. She has the tragic demeanour of a feline who has sacrificed seven lives on the altar of love yet still elects to risk the remaining two. When I did remove the Technics for brief periods over this last grim weekend, I became aware of a lot of squawking and scuffling coming from the ceiling above me and naturally assumed I would have to call in the possum man. Now I’m not so sure. The wet patches, the distressed female, the missing bottle of vodka and packets of smoked salmon… Barney!!!!