The most exciting thing I've done this week is buy a new hairdryer and even that was last weekend. Once I'd unpacked it, I was quite annoyed with my choice as the box included another sheet of cardboard, two plastic bags, two plastic-coated wires, a plastic plug protector, a sheet of thermo-plastic-padding and an instruction booklet, in addition to the hairdryer. Puts the environmental damage caused by bagging a plastic-wrapped cucumber in the shade! No matter, a new hairdryer was essential as my old one was making a sound similar to a World War II plane about to crash, and when I raided Celeste's room for her ancient dryer, I discovered it delivered about as much heat as an eskimo with a cold. And Verity did ask if I'd done something different with my hair so maybe there is something to the ionic tuning or whatever it was the box was advertising. (I would check, but that part at least I was able to put in the blue bin for recycling.)
Meanwhile, you might be wondering why I've had such a tedious week. I can give you the answer in one word: Annie. That might seem a little harsh, but she has been a bit out of control this week. She has turned up here every morning and stayed long past her welcome. On Thursday, I happened to see her heading in this direction from the window as I was trying to get some cleaning done, so I did what I had always promised myself I would never do - I pretended I wasn't in. I hid in the corner of the kitchen and ignored the doorbell. I have terrible memories of being forced to hide behind the sofa by my mother when some Jehovah's Witnesses were in the area and despite being only seven at the time, I found it distinctly undignified. So you can understand how frustrated I was beginning to feel. Especially since Annie then came round to the back door on the grounds that Joe was here so she knew the door would be open and she could wait for me. It was a tad embarrassing. I had to pretend I'd been in the bathroom and hadn't heard the bell. Then she got back to bemoaning her current position, her boredom, her love for the children who had abandoned her... I'd heard it all before, on Monday, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday. Joe popped down for some coffee and biscuits and, on seeing Annie here again, decided to take them back up to 'his' room, muttering something about being in the zone. I don't think Annie really took it in.
Verity phoned that evening and listened to me for a while before interrupting. "It's your own fault," she told me. "You'll have to tell her you're busy and she'll have to go and whine on someone else's shoulder." Easy enough for Verity to say, and I told her as much. However, she did come to the rescue eventually.
Yesterday, just as I was setting up the ironing board, trying to catch up on the ironing I hadn't been able to do all week, Annie turned up again. She'd brought a bottle of vodka with her 'for later' which made my heart sink, indicating that yet again she was planning to stay all day. I'd just put the kettle on when the phone rang.
It was Verity. "She's there again, isn't she," she said. "You don't need to answer, I saw her as I was driving back from the newsagent's. I'll be there in a couple of minutes." And she put the phone down before I could even say 'okay'.
True to her word, she blew in within the promised two minutes. "You must be Annie," she said before I could make introductions. "I doubt we've met, I've got a life."
Annie stuttered something about having seen Verity at one of the village events but she was rather lost for words and her comment petered out before it developed any serious level of coherency.
"Now, you have to leave my poor friend here alone. Get out of the house, sure, but why not do something useful with your time? Go and volunteer at the school since you seem to like whiny little children so much. Or work at the village playgroup, they're always short-staffed if the village newsletter is to be believed. Now, pass one of those cherry chocolate cookies before they're all eaten. I'm on a no-sugar week in my coffee, but that doesn't mean I can't have biscuits." And she calmly dunked the proffered cookie in her coffee and sat back, waiting for Annie to respond.
It would have been so easy if Annie had just said, "Gosh, what a good idea, I'll go there now and ask for a job." Life is never that easy and once Annie had recovered from the shock of Verity's onslaught, she tried to explain, at quite some length and even into a second coffee, why she couldn't do what Verity suggested. But Verity, for all her faults, is as stubborn as Annie, and she stayed until Annie left to meet up with some of playgroup leaders and ask about possibilities.
"There, you've got your life back now. I don't expect gratitude, though those cookies are pretty good. Can't understand why you stopped selling them in the deli. Right, got to go, I've got a pilates class this afternoon and things to do before then. I'll see you at the poetry meeting next week, if not before. You're hosting it, I gather." And she was gone.
Well, obviously I took the hint and promptly made some more of the cookies she had liked so much and dropped them round at her house with a little thank-you note. She was out, unsurprisingly, probably sorting out someone else's life. It wasn't until the OH got home that I realised Annie had left her vodka behind. But you know what, I reckon I earned it!