Saturday. And the rains came down…..

Saturday 27 December 2014

No idea of temperature as was raining too much to go out and look without waterproofs

It is not often that we wake to the sound of the rain lashing down on the shutters.  It was also sluicing off the barn roof and bouncing out of the gutters.  OH had pillow over his head and was groaning ‘this is just what we didn’t need’.  Our Forth Bridge somehow absorbs water and then develops pale yellow markings on the walls and the ceilings.  The roofer assures me that all the tiles are in place.  The damp takes about two to three days to show through.  Just in time for the revisit.  Some remedial painting may be required on Monday.

Have remains of trifle for breakfast – one benefit of the 42 steps is that my clothes are looser than they have been in some time.  Spend morning washing down the remains of the banisters plus the entrance hall floor.  Plaster has welded itself to some parts and the new floor paint chips up with it. Another job for tomorrow.  OH goes shopping and walks the dog around the lake and gets so wet, he can actually wring water out of his socks.  He shows me his wet underwear and I tell him to put it in the laundry basket.  Oh the romance of marriage.

I am not as fed up of cleaning as you may imagine.  In fact I am not fed up at all as almost anything is better than having to deal with the exigencies of the house selling and buying general public who drove me into the manic, gibbering state normally displayed by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Clouseau’s superior).  Wikipedia informs us that Herbert Lom was Czek and died at the age of 95 in 2012.

Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther Strikes Again

My clients have yet to give me a twitch.  This feat was achieved however by a Chartered Accountant who gave his unfortunate employees an authentic Bob Cratchitt experience.   I have just realised that his eye used to twitch when he saw me too.  How cheering!

Amongst the memories of that year, are the following:

1.  Despite the very low wages paid to all, we were expected to contribute five pounds to the Partners Christmas present.  Everyone hated the Partners.  Everyone complained but everyone paid up.  I didn’t pay up.  First black mark.  I took the opportunity of calculating the hourly rate of the lowest paid staff – myself included – and we were just over two pounds an hour.  I was on a training contract whilst the others were being exploited long term.

2.  Christmas Party.  Everyone was expected to attend the Christmas party (and bring a bottle).  I was walking down the steps out of the building when the Senior Partner ran out of the Board Room and shouted, ‘you will be deducted a half day’s holiday if you don’t attend’!  I didn’t and duly lost a half day.

3.  One of my colleagues’ father was seriously ill with cancer and died just before Christmas.  The Senior Partner came around with our wage packets (they paid us in cash on a weekly basis) and informed her that she had not received the ten pounds Christmas bonus because she had had a lot of time off during the year.  There was a deathly ‘you absolute bastard’ silence as he stalked out of the room and quietly clicked shut the door behind him.  I looked in my wage packet and discovered less money than usual.  My Christmas bonus had taken me into another NIC bracket…..

My last experience as an employed accountant came many years later when OH had been made redundant and I thought it would be fun to be the one going out to work.  Alas, deeply wrong.  I obtained a job (I never seem to have trouble obtaining the blooming things) and was delighted to find that my good friend from our training days was still there.  She was not the happy young thing of days gone by but a chain smoking, embittered senior with the joy sucked right out of her.

The days were from 8.30 to 5.30 with 40 minutes for lunch.  I did VAT returns back to back.  No one talked.  Budgets were to be strictly adhered to.   I used to think that my ears had stopped working, it was so quiet.  Even at lunchtime (most people sat at their desks and made the most of the short access to internet) no one spoke.  I brought crisps in one day and had to suck most of the packet because the first crunch had sounded like rifle shot and attracted the attention of everyone in the room.  I exceeded all of the budgets and was definitely a non profit centre.

At the end of three tortured months, I was called into one of the Partners offices.  He said he felt that I didn’t really fit into the team (aka you are not making us any money) and that they really regretted that they would not be able to offer me a permanent contract.   I wholeheartedly agreed with his assessment of my suitability for their firm (ie not a zombie), picked up my stuff and left with a heart bursting with joy and lungs full of suddenly fresh and fulfilling air.  They paid me for the next three months as compensation and it will be probably the only time in my life when I am paid for not doing something.

I worked for a number of Chartered Accountants and there wasn’t a one of them that I haven’t left without feeling a sense of profound relief.  Actually, that holds true for most of my employments. OH suggests it is not them, it is me and that I am a bad employee.  I don’t do politics and I don’t do backstabbing and I don’t do false.  If that makes me a bad employee, then it also makes me a better person.

Later in the day went to see a house on estimation which had come via a notary with whom I have worked for many years.  Stunning views, terrifying cracks in the ceilings, on sale for over two years. Well, miracles do occur and I did sell another property within view of this one and with just one visit. The main living room is over 55m2 and has wonderful vistas of the river and the Pyrénées.  A potential future problem is the fact it is being let to a Vietnamese family without a written rental agreement.  They were away in Belgium for the festive season.  They do not like housework by the look of it – the cobwebs and dust had some ancienneté.


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