Wednesday 11 March 2009


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.


Welsh Girl said...

How completely hideous to be in that position at work. Running amok with the cudgel might be brutal but definitely less painful in the long term. Why the corporate gods think this is easier and fairer I don't know.

on the upside I had an oven which only cremated things for a year before I got around to replacing it. Admittedly I lived off a diet of mashed potatoes, steamed veg and pasta but I do have a handy hint of sorts. I bought one of those George Foreman grill things as a much cheaper and quicker solution than fixing the oven!

Anonymous said...

How ghastly for you to have to play the executioner, and not even be given a mask at that.
I have often found that in times when I have some kind of inner turmoil not quite articulated or recognised, several large appliances or pieces of critical machinery go tits up at the same time. Last time it was my computer and the car but I have had domestic items do the dirty (npi) on me as well.
There is no doubt that these events are related as you so perceptively intuit in this post. I wonder if having them mended, even if it seems like they would be better off discarded, might ease your soul a little too? Just a thought.. Once, when rather poor, I actually took the back off the broken washing machine, diagnosed the problem myself and actually FIXED it. It was a life changing moment.

Rose said...

these are not happy times and sometimes I think doing something physical like washing up or going to a laundrette (although they are bizarre places!) can make you feel a lot calmer when work troubles feel like they are welling up inside you. That said they also take up precious time. Roll on the weekend.

Waffle said...

Oh, angel (you, not that horrid house one who I thought was dead. Clearly Glenn Close like, she will prove difficult to despatch). Horrible. Really horrible. I have been being flippant at you about it and I am sorry, it must be gut-wrenching.


katyboo1 said...

Take heart. You have had your three domestic disasters now. You should be alright for a while.

I am beaming you a mental picture of Ray Mears, king of the survivalists. Hope it helps you in your hour of need.

You are having a horrible, horrible time and I am very sorry for it. x

Titian red said...

It is such a ghastly position to be in, especially knowing someones future before they do. You, and they have my sympathy.
As regards the duplicity of white goods have you noticed how the washing machine only breaks down when full of water whilst washing something you needed very, very soon. The tumble drier does not stop when drying the delicates and therefore fries the Agent P, the freezer goes when just filled with PYO and salmon on special offer and the cooker before the big dinner party ?I would be able to ignore this synchronicity were I not watching "I Robot" - now I am very worried !

fabhat said...

Nothing can help with the redundancy horrors - but can I recoomend a service wash? They are a thing of joy when all domestic appliances fail. Generally only about a quid more than doing it yourself it comes back dry, and even better, folded and socks paired up - which is better than I manage most of the can give them your own soap/conditioner if you are fussy(I am) and the only risk is you may become addicted to it.

Teena Vallerine said...

It will get better. Everything does, just not always in ways we expect. t.x