Everything has broken chez Trefusis. As if in an attempt to test the Vatican's theory about women's liberation, the washing machine, the dishwasher and the oven have all gone haywire, either shorting the electricity or cremating the food.
None of these is worth repairing. It's new ones or nothing.
I somehow feel that irritating doppelgänger, the Angel in the House, is behind all this: bored with waging her war of attrition, she's upped the stakes, and by breaking all the appliances is attempting to break me too.
Too late. I am already broken.
And in truth, it's neither the fact I can't afford to replace the broken appliances nor the machinations of an unwillingly perfectionist super-ego that has fractured the cracked china cup of my life.
What has broken me beyond the ministrations of a super-glue wielding Mr Trefusis is survivors guilt. We learned last week that The Company was implementing a series of measures designed to reduce its cost base in the face of unprecedented economic challenges to the business. Redundancies are necessary. In practise, this means that one in seven of us must go. I am not amongst them, but I've had to take people I hold dear through what seems like the cruellest and most byzantine consultation process. It's not over. It's taking weeks. I feel like Oscar Wilde killing the things I love, cowardly, with a kiss, when a brutal yet mercifully swift swipe with a sword would be kinder. If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly. But I have to follow a legal framework and hold it together throughout, all the while knowing it's me who's here in double trust. They look at me with their big eyes like so many trusting baby seals, waiting for me to seize the corporate cudgel.
But I have to wait. I am duty bound to do it by the bureaucratic book. I gave up on the Kafka: life was already imitating art enough to make its reading unbearable.
And in the meantime, we're working away with strained, white faces, talking to each other about everything except the subject that preoccupies our insomniac hours. Where once we felt ourselves at the coalface, now we're at the pithead after a mining disaster, waiting for the bodies to be brought up and identified. Asking ourselves how much longer they can dig through the rubble.
It will get better. It's a mantra I keep repeating to myself as I force myself to function in a way that looks half competent. And wonder if it's being done this way pour encourager les autres. One has to put a good face on economic armageddon, in case one is next, in the mistaken belief that it's harder to get rid of people who look like they have solutions.
At home, it's a blessed relief to be distracted by drudgery. Maybe I'm saving money on electricity? Going to the launderette is a very levelling experience. The family has eaten nothing but risotto, pasta or things that can be cooked in a saucepan for over a week. Washing up by hand reminds one of what one takes for granted.
In this climate, I should be grateful that making do is, if not quite a choice, is at least not an absolute necessity.