Monday, 3 June 2013

Lucy Benedict vs The Blue Circle of Hysteria

     I thought I laughed a lot generally. Until  a few weeks ago, when I laughed nonstop and slightly too hard for a good seven or eight hours. Allow me to explain…

     A (actually, it’s really annoying me to keep referring to him as ‘A’, for some reason. So from now on I’m going to call him ‘Alistair’. Which is not his name, but it’s easier somehow to call him ‘Alistair’ than just ‘A’, which makes him sound like an anonymised legal case) is very practical. Excellent at DIY, making things, creating things, fixing stuff.  In our time together he’s built numerous items of furniture and fixed just about everything.  He cannot see a broken thing (or even something that’s not quite working at optimum levels) without fixing it, and is always happiest when he’s got his tool belt on, slaving away at something. It’s great. If anything ever goes wrong, ever, I just say ‘Alistair? The door is…’ and before I know it, he’s serenely fixing it.  His greatest joy, however, comes from A Project.  So we’ve had two kitchens built from scratch. A conservatory he built in less than a week. A treehouse in the garden that went from notion to reality in three days. And last month, he was a bit flush with cash after he got his PPI repayment. There was some talk of paying off credit cards, saving for our holiday, putting some into a savings account. You know, mature, responsible things to do. But Alistair had an idea.

     A hot tub.

     Even with the PPI money, he couldn’t afford to buy one. But, with a bit of knowhow and a lot of his tools, he believed he could make one. Seriously.  So he plotted and he planned, and we measured, and worked out how big it needed to be. Then he got on his laptop and researched and made notes before ordering what he thought he’d need. And for the next two weeks, I was seemingly constantly on my feet, opening the gates to various delivery drivers who would hand over bits of piping, decking planks, jets, nozzles, a woodburner… And when Ali came home from work each day, he would look over his ever increasing haul of stuff and say, in exasperated tones, ‘But I can’t do ANYTHING until the tub gets here!’.
One Thursday morning, I was at home, trying to write (and mostly failing) when the bell for the gates went. I peered out of the window (I never open the gates automatically now, after the Jehovah’s Witnesses came round) and saw a chap in delivery drivers uniform, clutching a clipboard. Heigh ho, I thought, it’ll be something for Alistair, and let him in. As I came out of the front door, I could see he was chuckling to himself. How nice. A happy delivery driver. ‘Delivery for Alistair The Delusional.’ The happy delivery driver said, although he didn’t seem to be holding anything. In fact, there was no van parked in the driveway. Curious. ‘Yep’, I said, ‘That’s us.’ ‘Ok, hang on a sec’ said smiley and amused delivery driver, walking out of the gates towards…. THE MASSIVE BLOODY HGV parked in the bus lane outside.

     Like something out of Doctor Who, a vast blue circle appeared on the ramp of the MASSIVE BLOODY HGV. And I understood the reason for the delivery driver’s amusement. This thing was ridiculously enormous. At least six feet across and four feet wide and absolutely radiant with blueness. It felt like the sun had finally come out and all around were blue skies, when in fact it was a drizzly grey morning in mid May. The stonkingly massive tub of blue was tethered to a wooden pallet at the base and the happy delivery driver and I just about managed to drag it on a trolley across the pavement and into the driveway where we hit the snag of gravel, which was resistant to the teeny tiny wheels of the trolley. Both of us were fairly incoherent with laughter at this point, which didn’t help, so we got it as far as the corner of the driveway before I managed to gasp that as Alistair was responsible for this looming disaster of blue, he could work out what to do next. Shaking with laughter, the delivery driver and I shook hands , and he departed in THE MASSIVE BLOODY HGV. I sent a text to Alistair: ‘Tub’s arrived!’ He texted back: ‘I’ll come home for lunch.’

     Purely for matters of historical record, I decided to take a photo of THE BLOODY MASSIVE SEA OF BLUE now in residence, and approached the damned thing with my phone in my hand. Just as I lined up the shot, there was an ominous creaking sound, and THE BLOODY MASSIVE SEA OF BLUE broke free of it’s moorings on the wooden pallet and began rolling towards me, much like the rock in the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark. Squeaking in terror I ran away until it’s progress was halted by a convenient bush, then leapt back out to take the photo that would prove to the world that Alistair had finally taken leave of his senses. You probably think I’ve been exaggerating just how stupidly big this thing was. Well, look at this (you can see the HGV parked outside).


     At one o’clock, Alistair cycled into the driveway, caught sight of THE BLOODY MASSIVE SEA OF BLUE lurking in the corner of the drive and did a full body double take, which I rather enjoyed as I looked out of the living room window. By this point, I was quite giddy with laughter, which Alistair did not appreciate. Tsking at me, he set about rolling THE BLOODY MASSIVE  SEA OF BLUE down the drive towards our garden. Alistair is quite tall (about six feet), but this was all I could see.


     There was a brief pause in proceedings when he realised there was no earthly way he could get it through the garden gate, so he went into reverse and removed a fence panel before squeezing THE BLOODY MASSIVE SEA OF BLUE through the gap with millimetres to spare. Still tsking impatiently at me, he tipped it from its side so that it was the right way up. And then he paused. The colour drained from his face. His mouth gaped. And you could track the dawning realisation that THE BLOODY MASSIVE SEA OF BLUE was indeed bloody massive, and completely out of scale for what he had planned.

     By this point, I was pretty close to being hysterical with giggles. I couldn’t help it. The incongruity of this stupidly enormous blue tub in our tranquil garden was too much for me. I’d try to calm down, put a hand on my chest and wheeze ‘It’s ok, I’m calming down now’, then I’d catch sight of it again and would go off into peals of laughter. It didn’t help that all through lunch, Alistair was curiously, and uncharacteristically, quiet, save for a few sentences: ‘Please tell me it’s going to be ok’, ‘Your parents are going to kill me’ ‘I think I may have overstretched myself here’. Finally, he decided that the company had built it to the wrong specifications and took his tape measure out to check. When he returned, I asked him ‘Well?’ as he wordlessly returned the tape measure to the drawer. ‘Itistherightsize.’ He muttered into his chest. Cue more unhelpful laughing from me. 

     For my own private amusement I uploaded this picture to facebook, featuring a 5ft 4in woman who is unable to stand up straight because she is laughing too hard, standing next to THE BLOODY MASSIVE SEA OF BLUE  which was now becoming known as The Blue Circle of Hysteria. A lot of other people were similarly amused, and offered up suggestions as to how we could enjoy it – perhaps as a fairground teacup ride, or our own game of Alice in Wonderland? Others pondered on how we would get into a hot tub that came up to my shoulder – maybe via a cherrypicker? And what a lovely view we would have once in it, of treetops and low flying aircraft.


     Alistair eventually returned to work, walking slowly, in a preoccupied fashion, leaving me in my private world of mirth. For the next two hours I really did try to stop laughing, honestly. But it was impossible. Every time I looked out into the garden, I’d see The Blue Circle of Hysteria, glowing away, seemingly turning the whole world azure and I’d succumb to another fit of helpless laughter. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t that funny. But that was clearly a lie. It was easily the funniest thing I’d seen in years – this ridiculously oversized, out of place BLOODY MASSIVE Blue Circle of Hysteria, lying on the lawn, waiting to be turned into a hot tub.

     I tried really hard to appear normal when I went to pick the kids up from school. But the smile kept tugging at my lips and when another mum asked me how my day had been, I just about managed to bark out a sentence or two about The Blue Circle of Hysteria, before showing her the pictures on my phone which had her in stitches, and before I knew it, my phone was being passed around the playground and everyone else was collapsing into sniggering too. When I got back home with the kids, they were initially mute with awe, before they too were infected with The Blue Circle of Hysteria and we all had a very enjoyable afternoon laughing at the folly of Alistair, who kept plaintively begging ‘Please don’t laugh at me!’ which, of course, had the opposite effect.

     And now it has been three weeks. And, remove your hats and place your hand across your heart, for I am sorry to say that The Blue Circle of Hysteria is no more. After many scenes like this


And this
 It has transformed instead, into The Most Stupidly Ridiculous Oversized Hot Tub In The World…Ever. 


(And don’t tell Alistair, but I love it, And I am hugely proud of him).

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