Bear with me dear reader and all will become clear. The folk next door have the builders in and a beautiful new extension is going up at the back of their house. They are also having all the windows in the rest of the house renewed, as the property was rather dilapidated when they took it over and was more than ripe for updating. No problem there. All went well until last week. The builders removed two old windows from the side of the building that looks on to our front driveway. Unfortunately for us they did not take much care about it. The windows came out easily enough and so did at least six million minute polystyrene balls, which I now understand were in the past used for insulation before insulated sheets came along. It was a windy day and guess what? Yes, indeedy, all the perishing balls blew on to our driveway. Not a problem, I hear you say. Sweep 'em up. Problem solved. I wish. Our drive is covered with pea gravel, that small stuff that gets in between grooves of your trainers or walking boots. Can't sweep that lot up.
Meanwhile, inside Chez Comb, spouse is telephoning the lady from the Community Transport Scheme, for whom he is a volunteer driver. Elderly, infirm or disabled folk can book transport for shopping, doctors, hospital appointments or the doctor's surgery and have door to door service for a small fee. Whilst I am outside surveying our polystyrene snowstorm, spouse has contacted the lady via the ringback service. She must have picked up the phone, thought there was no one there and put it to one side. But they were still connected as spouse could hear her moving about the office. Poor spouse, he wasn't having much luck. He was calling into the phone, 'hello Christine, pick up your phone Christine, hello Christine.' and didn't bargain on being interrupted by a very cross wife stomping into his study, shrieking like a demented banshee and vowing vengeance on the entire building fraternity.
Being the patient man that he is, he put the phone to one side and listened to my diatribe on the careless builders and the problem of the polystyrene balls. My rant over and thinking there was nothing to be done about them and that we would have to learn to love them, I pushed off to my kitchen and my domestic goddess duties. Sometime later I had occasion to pass through the hallway to find spouse on his hands and knees, threading wire through the letterbox. I paused, mouth open and hesitated. Then, 'no, don't ask,' I told myself. Might be better if I don't know. On my return trip spouse was off his knees, upright and fixing up the hoover. 'Having a domestic moment, are we?' I asked. 'Mm, not quite domestic,' says spouse. 'I'm going out to hoover the gravel.'
Well I know we like to be reasonably clean at Chez Comb, but isn't hoovering the gravel taking things a tad too far? But if that's what spouse wanted to to who was I to object. I returned to my domestic duties and left him to it. In the kitchen I found the phone off its cradle and picked it up. Don't ask me why I did it, dear reader, but I shouted 'hello, hello. Eh, what's up doc?' into the handset in my best Bugs Bunny voice and hell's bells, I nearly dropped the wretched thing when Christine from Community Transport answered me. 'Is that you, Patricia? Your phone's off the hook. By the heck, it's an interesting life in your house isn't it? What was he doing down at the letterbox and why's he gone out to hoover the gravel? Does he often do that? Sounds a bit daft to me, but I suppose it takes all sorts....' Spouse will have some explaining to do next time he speaks to the good lady and I only hope she doesn't mention Bugs Bunny to him.
Yes, I thought hoovering the gravel was a bit off the wall too, but I have to tell you my dear reader, that spouse is not as green as he is cabbage looking. He fed the extension lead through the letterbox so the door could stay shut and took the hoover outside and connected it up. He put the hoover on its lowest setting and held it well above the gravel and hey presto - all those little polystyrene balls went home to daddy, all safely tucked up into the hoover bag. How amazing is that?
Our driveway is now squeaky clean and my admiration for spouse is unbounded. For thinking outside the letter box, I think I married a genius. Look out builders, we're ready to take on the world.