Bang went the ring main, boom went my heart. All I did was turn the waste disposal unit on. It was a damp dark March evening and like Scarlett O’Hara, I ﬂounced away declaring “I won’t think about this now, I’ll think about it tomorrow.”
Next morning, I tripped gaily down the stairs of Schloss Yeager, realising breakfast was going to be a challenge. The heating was still on, we had gallons of hot water and the lights appeared to be working. A brief look at the fuse box informed me that they were off a different ring main. Not so the toaster, kettle, dishwasher, tumble dryer and most importantly the coffee machine. I contemplated a morning of hellish chores; Ria, my woman who does was on a week’s holiday. A quick call to Glen The Sparks revealed he could not attend me for three whole days as he was still in Umbria on a foodie holiday. I am clearly in the wrong job. There was nothing for it but to roll up my sleeves and do like great-grandma did.
Where to start? I had no electricity to any of the ground ﬂoor below waist height, so 21st Century labour-saving devices were out. Fortunately, the dishwasher had ﬁnished its cycle, as had the washing machine. But the dryer was mid-tumble and I had no oven or microwave. Unfortunately, I did appear to have a working gas hob so dinner out would not be an option, alas. This modern woman of the millennium, needed to perform my chores like a house proud lady of the last century.
I cast my mind back to the interminable Home Ec lessons under the expert tutelage of Mrs Mountshaft. We used a text book at school which, by its smell and faded illustrations, had been around since the 1920s. It contained such arcane wisdom as the order in which to wash up the dishes (glasses ﬁrst as they are the least dirty), how to dust (from top to bottom as it drifts downwards, don’t you know), and how to air a room, make beds and carry out various methods of hand laundry.
The laundry had been done, so it was just a matter of drying 10kgs of wet washing. We have duvets, so no need of hospital corners. I know how to open a window and I believe dust to be a useful commodity. How else would one know where to replace things without the dust ring?
So I donned my pinny. Washing up was no problem – juice glasses ﬁrst. I dashed upstairs, opened the windows, and promptly shut them again; too cold, and besides, I have air freshener. I made the beds, cleaned the bathroom and hauled mop and bucket up to wash the ﬂoor.
A brief check under the stairs revealed a huge ﬂuffy duster on a pole. I set about the light ﬁxtures and cornices like a woman possessed. I gave the bookshelves a once over as it seemed a pity not to. ”Have duster, will dust” was my mantra, followed by, “Have mop, will mop.”
It is no wonder they were all lean, lithe and ﬁt as ﬂeas; all the bending, stretching and and upper body workout was more strenuous than an hour’s personal training in the gym. There are several pieces of sage advice I will offer after my ordeal: always keep hand cream by every sink as washing up is murderous to manicures; a gungy casserole pan can be de-gunked with a biological washing powder and boiling water; vigorous chores are excellent exercise; and NEVER turn on the waste disposal unit when you have the dishwasher, food mixer and radio on at the same time.
Our Minxy prides herself on running a very tight ship at Schloss Yeager. but when an unexpecTed electrical disaster was sprung on her, she found herself time travelling back to the 1920s. How did she cope?