It’s my job

Thursday January 26, 2006

We both of us dashed out to bag the trash and carry it to the kerb this morning. This is normally my job but, seeking to avoid spending too much time out in the cold, we made a joint effort of it. I’m feeling really rather chipper just now and the last thing I want is to suffer a chill and spoil things.

In line with that, I’m ashamed to say that, apart from a quick turn up and down the drive, or around the house, when I felt the need of some fresh air, that was the limit of my outdoor activity today. It would have been a splendid day for a winter walk, cold, bright and sunny, but laziness kept me indoors. It’s a battle many of us fight every winter, I suspect.

Mid-morning came the expected call from a surveyor in Lincoln, making an appointment to ‘come and see’ the house on Tuesday. This is not a full structural survey, merely a visit in behalf of the buyer’s mortgage company to assure them that the house exists and that, on inspection it’s worth the money being borrowed against it, with no glaringly obvious faults. It’d pass either test but you can’t help but feel a little relief that some impersonal bloke isn’t going to crawl all over your home looking for problems and, to justify his fee, needing to find some.

The timing is perfect, being the day before Graham disappears in the direction of Somerset. We are both of us agreed that I don’t do surveyor duty unless it’s absolutely essential. As was exampled when we sold the Little Old House in the West, I find it difficult to suffer the breed gladly.

So on Tuesday I will disappear to do shopping and Graham will see the surveyor round the house, which will be prepared back up to full presentation standards, hopefully for the very last time.

“I’m really looking forward to living in a house that’s not for sale,” I said. “It’s been a long haul.”

“We’ve had longer.”

“That’s true. Perhaps it’s me.”

“You should drop that ‘perhaps’.”

“Don’t be cruel.”

“Don’t be silly.”

However we may josh about it, the valuation survey is a major step on the house sale checklist and, when it’s done, you can settle down to the preliminaries before the moving job itself. I find that stage to be far less wearing and stress-making.

I’d be best advised from now on to put my head down and get on with the de-clutter job. Two eBay items came to the end of their auction this evening, with entirely satisfactory results, and three more will close tomorrow. It’s been a little too cold for me to spend time in the unheated garage, sorting through the boxes Graham brought down a few days back, but I’d better wrap up, wear my fingerless gloves, and get the job done pretty darn quick.

All too soon the sun disappeared, the sky grew dark, and the frost settled in once more. I sat down to watch one of my all-time favourite TV programs—a re-run on ITV3 of The Beiderbecke Affair—and, on the side, smacked our dinner in the oven. Chicken breasts, tray baked in a red wine sauce.

Following on yesterday’s example of cheat’s cookery I made the red wine sauce in a totally lazy way. A drizzle of olive oil in the frying pan, brought up to a gentle heat, drifted with a very small amount of cornflour, stirred and then built up with a few mushrooms and tiny onions from the freezer, herbs and seasoning from the cupboard, and given a quick sizzle before pouring over the chicken breasts ready to shove in the oven. The red wine came from the freezer, too, following another cheat’s shortcut—when you want to make a red wine sauce, don’t waste good plonk on it; buy a cheap special offer bottle, use a cupful, and freeze the rest in an ice tray. Next time you need it, grab two or three cubes, drop them into the pan, and Bob’s your uncle.

“That smells good,” said Graham.

“Thanks. Not bad for a silly person?”

“Now you’re the one who’s being cruel.”

“Sorry. It’s my job.”



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