Friday, 16 July 2010

Living with broken things

Our broadband and telephone line both died on Wednesday. It was more than slightly frustrating at first - I've been home from work this week and could have wiled away many happy blogging hours. But by the second day I'd adjusted.  Daytime TV is really hideous, but I did manage to catch an interview with John Barrowman which was no little compensation and I've always been a sucker for a bit of Midsummer Murders.
While passing the time so profitably on the sofa, I came to realise that one of my real, and frankly underestimated, skills in life is the ability to live with broken things. I'm not talking about the odd dead lightbulb that takes weeks to change while your eyes accustom to the gloom, nor the missing coat button that you only remember as you're about to walk out the door. I mean the real living with broken things and the adjustments that you can make around them to carry on with everyday life.
For months the door of the kitchen fridge was hanging from only one hinge. But we adjusted. We learned the skill of holding it up as we opened it, of never leaving it open while we poured milk in our tea, of lifting it slightly to rest on the stub of the broken hinge as we closed it.
A while ago the clothes-hook-on-the-bathroom-door became the clothes-hook-on-the-windowsill - holding up dust rather than dressing gowns. But we adjusted. And our dressing gowns were just as accessible on the floor.
A few weeks later the handle fell off the top door of our airing cupboard. But we adjusted. We soon found out how to open the door by reaching up through the slats of the cupboard below and pushing it open from inside.
In our last house it was the toilet flush. Only a particular downward flick of the wrist could achieve a full bowl-filling cascade. It was beyond all visitors - you could tell by the amount of time people spent in there and the sheepish, embarrassed look with which they'd emerge. After a while the downward flick also failed. But we adjusted. It soon became just as easy to lift the lid of the cistern, reach in and pull the mechanism up.

In case our landlord ever gets to read this, I should assert that we're not really slothful and slovenly - it's just that sometimes the business of living gets in the way of an immediate repair, and in the fullness of time all of these broken things have been fixed. It's strange though, how long the adjusting lasts - I still open the fridge door gingerly and never leave it hanging open - the shiny new hinge is getting so little use it might well outlast me.


Caroline said...

That is so funny! It sounds just like our house...

Philip said...

You make us sound like tramps.
Which we are. But that's not the point.
Anyway for a moment I thought from the title that it was going to be about me and megan so I suppose I've got off lightly. Now, why won't this door shut properly? Oh well. I just won't shut it for a while. That way I won't even notice its not working properly.

Baglady said...

Lovely. It sounds like our house too. It's amazing how soon we get used to things that might bother other people and before you know it the broken thing is normal.

Not sure I like the idea of no broadband though. *shudder*

Madame DeFarge said...

My father left a bit of skirting board unattached for 12 years and only fixed it when they moved house. It's intriguing what you can live with.

Pat said...

Welcome to our world. But I really must do something about the wall paper hanging from above the drawing room window. It's the sun you know.
I blame being brought up in wartime.

Eryl Shields said...

Broken broadband is definitely something I couldn't live with. But the bit of bedroom ceiling where the plaster fell down a few winters ago has become a bit of a 'shabby chic' feature.

Charlie said...

I can't stop laughing at the mind-movie of your one-hinged fridge and the very careful openings and closings.

We have constant problems with the lighting in the kitchen: four flourescent tubes, two each in two fixtures. Only one time in eight years have all four worked together, blinding both of us. Two are out now, and we love the gloom.

Sherry O'Keefe said...

i'm here via the bohemian via someone else via whomever. was drawn in by the title of this post. i thought i was the only one living with broken things. i am one dead tv set away from setting a good tv set on top of a dead tv set ontop of a dead tv set.

nice to read your work.