The clock is ticking ominously. It’s eleven thirty on Sunday night. This column is due first thing Monday morning and all I have on the screen in front of me is an unruly assemblage of paragraphs gasping for C.P.R. I’ve just polished off a bowl of apple crumble with whipped cream in an attempt to soothe my ragged nerves. They remain ragged. I know how this sounds. You think it’s the result of lazy procrastination don’t you? It’s not. Honestly. This is what happened.
My kind ex-husband came to my place late this afternoon to install a door to my toilet. I suspect that the absence of a door to this particular room has disconcerted some of my guests. It may also have made me the subject of appalled gossip all over town. If so, I remain blissfully ignorant of the fact.
However, as I am not entirely unaware of the social niceties I have been looking forward to having a door on my toilet just like everybody else.
The door frame was out of plumb and so the door-hanging took longer than anticipated. I tinkered with the column until it was finished and then we had dinner. The ex-husband went home to the Moutere. I took the dog for a walk in the near dark. By the time we returned night had definitely fallen but there was still plenty of time to finish the column. I was however in urgent need of the toilet and fondly anticipated using it behind the privacy of the newly-installed door.
Alas, when I reached the threshold of the toilet in joyful anticipation I discovered that the door wouldn’t open. It had somehow become snibbed shut, and the snib was on the toilet side of the door. This, ladies and gentlemen, is when my present troubles arose. It is why the hour is so late, why I have so few words on paper and why my nerves are a-jangle.
While ignoring the insistent nagging of my bladder, I tried to get the toilet door open with all the usual tricks - wiggling of the door knob followed by lots of pushing, shoving and swearing. The dog watched my antics with mild curiosity then fell asleep unhelpfully in his basket. When brute force and imprecations had no effect, I knocked the pins out of the door hinges with a hammer. The door did not however, fall obligingly into my arms as I had imagined it would: it was jammed in the tight embrace of the warped frame. My bladder turned up the nag-o-meter to maximum decibels. I could barely hear myself think above the racket.
The only other access to the toilet was through the very small window. Luckily the kind ex-husband had left his ladder behind. I dragged it around to front of the flat and clambered up to inspect the window. It was wedged shut. I climbed down the ladder and raided the cutlery drawer for the bread knife. I climbed back up the ladder with knife in teeth and managed to prise the window open a little way with its blade. By pressing my thumbs into the gap between the window frame and the sill, I was able to nudge the window open a little further. I climbed down the ladder and found a long piece of wood in the back yard. I climbed back up the ladder and used the piece of wood to lever the window open completely.
My next task was to collapse myself like an umbrella and insinuate myself into the locked room through the tiny window opening. My perch on the ladder was precarious. There were no handholds on the outside or the inside wall to cling to. My bladder’s nag-o-meter had shifted into overdrive. At moments like these, your past is supposed to flash before you but all I could see was my crippled future: contusions, lacerations, disfigurement, a shattered spine, months in traction, wheelchairs and so on.
But I did it. I folded myself like a piece of human origami, along dotted lines I didn’t even know I had, and posted myself through the window like a letter through the mouth of a post box. Once I was inside, I flung myself onto the porcelain without delay. The nag-o-meter shut down the moment my bladder was empty. In the resulting eerie silence I had no difficulty un-snibbing the door.
The dog was still snoring in his basket when I emerged triumphant from the toilet holding the door in my arms. You’d have thought he would have woken up long enough to give me a short round of applause. But no, he slept on while I hung the door back on its hinges, tapped the pins back into place, returned the ladder to the back of the flat, and served myself up a generous helping of last night’s apple crumble.
It is now 2am Monday morning. The dog is still comatose in his basket and I seem to have written a column about why I haven’t written a column. So it looks as if I’ll have to delay my attack on Christmas until my next column on the seventeenth of December.