Appliance Annoyance

It’s almost impossible to say where the proverb, ‘things come in threes’ originates from. Some people attribute it the coming of the three wise men, the kings that visited Jesus, some say it’s a superstition that’s been allowed to develop and become a part of the human condition. Throughout history misfortune is always said to come three times, be it death, destruction or illness. In medieval England if a servant broke something, the master of the house would order two similar pieces of no great value also be broken, this was done to break the rule of three and then gave birth to the phrase, ‘third time lucky’. Comedians apply the rule of three to make a joke funnier, to labour it and use four or five tags per gag never works, but three assures hilarity, through the rule of three a natural progression creates tension which builds up to a final release. Writers also use the rule of three principle, this suggests that groups of three make more interesting reading, for example, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and of course my favourite story as a child, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

There’s a Latin phrase, ‘omne trium perfectum’ which means, everything that comes in threes is perfect. Sadly this cannot be said for the three stages of appliance annoyance in our house this week.

ONE. Monday evening, I was ready to start preparing dinner, potatoes were peeled and dropped into the halogen cooker: our makeshift oven during restoration. This table-top appliance has been worth its cost of €29,00 as it makes great roast veg and saves time when cooking meat and fish. Tonight I turn it on and nothing happens, I waggle to dodgy electrics we have rigged up in the kitchen and still nothing happens. It would appear the thing has died and gone to the appliance graveyard in the sky. Yesterday it worked perfectly fine, not a single hint of any trouble or potential demise.

TWO. Tuesday morning arrives and I’m making a drink as the iPod shuffles as usual, the first song of the day is The Last One in the World, by Blondie. I drop a sweetener tablet into a cup already holding a teaspoon of instant coffee when the kettle gurgles and dies. Again more electrical cable waggling takes place, the plugs are checked, they seem okay, the extension is looked at, it’s fine too but the kettle is no more, our second appliance fatality within 24 hours.

The afternoon is spent shopping for a washing machine, which we find at a good price at the Auchan supermarket near the airport, we then drop into Ikea to get a shower rail and bathroom light. We decide to have lunch here and I’m intrigued by their special tray trolleys in the restaurant. They’re  a clever idea, no carrying trays laden with things liable to tip over, just load three onto the wheeled contraption and wheel away.


We arrive home and the new washing machine is plumbed in and ready to go, we fill it and give it a test run, we leave it and spend a couple of hours sat outside with friends. When we return to the washer it’s in a completely different place, it’s walked a good two feet across the room, pulling out the waste pipe and flooding the bathroom. Luckily as it’s a wet room no real inconvenience has occurred.

Three. Wednesday morning arrives and to counteract the wandering washing machine I purchase a rubber mat for it to sit upon, we decide to test the theory I have, that the rubber will keep the white vibrating box in its place and nothing happens. We test the newly installed electrics and no problem is there. I turn the washer around and it appears the vibrations of the spin cycle has undone some of the screws in the back, particularly those supporting the drum. Screws are tightened and we try the machine again, this time it fills with water then nothing happens. Our builder takes the front panel off and discovers that the belt that drives the drum has come off. More screws are undone and after the belt is refitted they’re re-fastened. I switch the machine back on again and it works, my smalls are dancing around as they tumble in a scented foam.

“They say things come in threes.” The OH says, I just shake my head and walk away as Love and Rockets shuffle forward with, Ying and Yang (the Flowerpot Man). Time for a cuppa, but hang on, we have no kettle.

Swedish Meatballs, Storms and the Electric Mosquito Box

Last week when the weather was good, we replaced the horrible tiled living room floor with a new wooden one. The weekend arrived and with it rain. A thunderstorm raged throughout Saturday night, great forks of lightning skittered across the night sky, and sporadic sheets of lightning lit up the Abruzzi countryside like a stadium. Now I like a good storm and it helps to clear the air, which has been quite humid for the past few days, I see storms as nature’s thermostat so to speak.

Sunday arrived and reports of a tornado causing some devastation up in northern Italy are in the news. Thankfully the most distressing thing we’ve had here in Chieti is a neglected bag of cement that is now sodden and useless. So we eat breakfast as the iPod shuffles and Petula Clark, sings Downtown. “That’s what we’ll do,” I chip in, interrupting Ms Clark, “we’ll go downtown, so to speak. Let’s have a trip out to Pescara.” As we need some essentials, milk, bread, wine etc. we head first to the large Auchan supermarket near the airport; what a mistake this is. The store is packed with shoppers and the handful of checkouts open have queues fifteen people deep. Oh well, as I’ve already said previously, waiting is the Italian national pastime. Back in the car with our purchases stowed in the boot, the iPod shuffles and Marilyn Manson, starts to play, A Place in the Dirt. I’m not in the mood for Mr Manson’s rock on such a sunny day, so do something I rarely do, I manually move to the next track, and Sting, sings, Fields of Gold.

We have lunch in Ikea, the canteen is spacious, much bigger than any I’ve seen in any of their English stores, but the Italian’s take lunch seriously, it’s a time to relax over a plate of pasta and chat. The store has a clever little trolley device that means one person can stack and wheel up to four trays of food from counter to checkout to table. We have a small beer and Swedish meatballs with skinny fries, before clearing our table and heading into the store. One thing I’ve noticed that’s very different to self-clear restaurants in the UK, is that the Italian people actually do clear away their trays. In UK branches of fast food stores, I’m always amazed by the people who leave their table covered with the remains of their lunch, expecting someone else to clear away the table detritus for them.100_6291-crop

Back home I look at the electric anti-mosquito device I’ve purchased, it’s a sort of light attached to a speaker that emits a high pitched sound that I can’t hear but apparently repels the vicious little insects. I’m dubious but at just five euro, I’ll give it a go. The dinner dishes are put away just as the rain starts again, it’s coming down in great sheets, big fat blobs of liquid pelt the ground tossing up dust and sand. With video and TV watching quickly eating up the temporary internet connection’s meagre monthly allowance, we’ve resorted to watching DVD’s in the evening and at the moment we are almost at the end of the second season of the eighties TV drama, Dynasty. Joan Collins plays a great TV villain while Linda Evans has spent much of season two, either weeping or mostly doing rabbit-in-the-headlights face acting.

Monday morning arrives after a night of constant rain, the only good thing is no extra mosquito bites, so did the device actually work or did the rain keep them away – only time will tell. I lie in bed listening to the plop, plop of rain coming down the chimney before getting up and poking my head outside. My herb planter is submerged, the plughole in the sink cum planter hasn’t been able to cope with the deluge. Suddenly there’s more rain, a heavier burst pelts the house and drives itself sideways against the windows. Oh well, I think I wasn’t planning on doing anything special today. Water is running down the lane and I’m half expecting to see Noah come around the bend in his ark.100_6289

I’m about to make breakfast when more, plop plopping is heard, this time it’s in the living room, water seems to have been forced under the tiles and is now dripping into several pools on my nice new wooden floor. Where’s Noah now, I think, I heard he was handy with wood. Maybe he can sort out this new problem.