The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Car Bomb

Danny's car and viewDuring the summer, I was making extensive repairs to the rendering on the outside of the cottage. I bought 25 kilo bags of sand and cement so that I could guarantee to get the right mix, as all my books came up with different ratios. The problem was where to store a half-used bag in between rendering splurges. I needed a dry space, ideally at waist height, very near to the area where I was working.

I quickly found the perfect spot – the boot of Danny’s gleaming company car. For weeks I happily mixed and sploshed. Danny, whose study window overlooks the back of the house, suspected nothing and each evening came downstairs to inspect my work and complement me on my rendering techniques. One day we dropped the back seats down so as to put a large flat object in the back of the car. He didn’t spot the bag and within time I forgot all about it. The car seats remained down.

One dreadful evening he returned from the station, his black suit covered in a thin layer of greyish dust. Even his laptop bag was grey. When I asked what had happened, he was pretty narky. He had made an emergency stop, he explained through thin greyish lips, the open bag of sand and cement had shot down the car, hit the back of his seat and exploded into a thick cloud of dust. There was a long awkward moment. With Herculean control I managed not to laugh as I brushed down his suit. He chirped up enormously when I handed him a large whisky and I offered to clean out the car.

Cleaning out the car was a dusty job. With each sweep of the brush large clouds of cement rose and settled around me. I removed the bag of sand and cement and a small carrier of sweepings. This morning it was clear that my valet service hadn’t been quite deep enough. Danny strode heavily across the kitchen several times. This always attracts my attention. The floorboards are very bouncy and each step reverberates through the legs of my chair. As he paced he muttered about having to clean out the car, “I’m collecting some colleagues from Birmingham International and they’re bound to be wearing dark suits.” I couldn’t see the problem until I was led out to the car. It was hard to see that I’d attempted any cleaning at all. There were little drifts of sand and very fine cement dust ingrained everywhere.

I tried to palm Danny off with three quid for the vacuum at the petrol station but he wasn’t playing ball. We cleaned and scrubbed for well over an hour. There was the grim silence of those awful Sunday chores that one was forced to do as a child. Thank goodness we’re grown up now. In years at least.


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