I may have mentioned my cats. My cats are sisters. They’re seven years old (nearly) and they are sweet-natured, affectionate wee things. Rikku (otherwise known by her full ‘ridiculous’ name of ‘Rikkachu Q. Kazoo’… or more commonly just ‘Koo’) and Yuna (‘Her Royal Highness the Lady Yunalesca Diamond Persnickety the First, Last and Only’… or more commonly ‘Boo’) are also incredibly irritating when they come into the bedroom at 4am and decide that bladder trampolining is the future of all cat sport.
Thus, last night, after several sleepless nights of hapless cat bouncing, I drew the line. ‘No more,’ I said. ‘No more.’ I turned to Dearly Beloved.
‘When you come to bed,’ I said, in a wavering tone made more so by sheer lack of sleep, ‘close the bloody downstairs door. Let’s have a night without Boo freestyling off my bladder. Please?’
Aside: it’s a boring (and lamentable) fact that although Dearly Beloved is their primary carer; the man who feeds them and spoils them rotten, that it’s always me they want love from. I can’t even sit here and type half the time because one of them is flumped across my arms. And they aren’t small. Or light, for that matter.
‘Alright,’ he said, chirpily.
So, he came up to bed at some point after me and confirmed that he had indeed shut the pair of the hideous monsters downstairs. Huzzah. And I had a wonderful night’s sleep. I woke up refreshed and ready for the day’s work. I didn’t want to go, but that was OK. I always feel that way. I got dressed and came downstairs.
Let me digress by explaining a bit about our house. It’s a 1930’s terrace house that had an extension built on the back (downstairs) for the bathroom. Whilst a strange arrangement, it’s entirely preferable to not having a bathroom. The stairs come down into a narrow hallway and there’s a door into the dining room. When that door is opened, the sitting room is to your right and the kitchen-through-to-bathroom is to the left.
There’s something very, very fundamental in that last sentence. Did you spot it?
Yes. That’s right.
When that door is opened.
This is the door that Dearly Beloved closed last night to shut out the cats. It’s a glass panel door, fifteen panes of glass and a handle that opens it. I came down the stairs and laughed at the cats sitting the other side looking highly annoyed that they were one side and I was the other. After a moment of mockery, because that’s what I’m like, I opened the door.
I tried to open the door.
It wouldn’t budge. At all.
Now, this door has always been a bit dodgy. Sticks something cruel, but usually with a good boot to the bottom of the wood frame it’ll open. Not this morning it didn’t.
‘Oh dearest,’ I trilled up the stairs. ‘The door won’t open.’
‘Oh, ha ha ha,’ he says.
‘No,’ I reply, starting to rattle it a little harder. ‘No, I mean it. It really won’t open.’
In his best ‘Man’ voice, Dearly Beloved replied with: ‘fine. I’ll be right there.’ Hidden in that sentence was the masculine superiority statement of ‘bloody useless woman’. So down he comes and entirely fails to open the door. At this point, several things start to happen and unfold which are best described in a list format. So… in order of events, the following happened.
- 0710: I make the annoying discovery that the downstairs door can’t be opened. I try a few times and Dearly Beloved comes down to try it himself. It still won’t open.
- 07:15: ‘OK, this is a problem,’ I observe. Perhaps pointlessly, but I observe it anyway. ‘What are we going to do?’ I don’t know why I ask this question. He doesn’t know either, but he’s a Man. He MUST know the solution to every DIY problem. Ever. In the history of ever. I get a reply of ‘um.’
- 07:16: Dearly Beloved hits on the ‘bright’ idea of going round the back and trying to get the back door keys through the catflap. NOTE! As a direct result of this venture, I have taken the decision to never, ever leave the keys in the door again. He didn’t manage it, but he was only about four inches from succeeding. Someone with longer arms or the right equipment would have found it a breeze. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR KEYS IN A DOOR WHERE THERE IS A CAT FLAP!
- 07:18: Dearly Beloved returns with a scowl and decidedly sore arm. ‘No luck?’ I ask, in that way that you do when you knwo the answer can’t be positive. Once we had established there had been no luck, we start thinking of options.
- 07:20-07:25: ‘Let’s try taking the handle off,’ I suggest enthusiastically. ‘It probably won’t help, but hey! You have to try, right?’ He looks at me. ‘We need a screwdriver.’ I look back at him. ‘We’ve got lots of screwdrivers…’ Oh yes. In the kitchen. ‘Alright then, we’ll improvise! I didn’t watch MacGuyver for nothing!’
- 07:28: Improvisation is fruitless. Screws are slightly recessed. Nothing will remove them. Frustration is mounting. ‘Go and ask the neighbours if they have a screwdriver,’ I suggest. He goes out and Man-Knocks on people’s doors and gets no reply.
- 07:29: ‘We could break the pane of glass closest to the handle,’ is the next suggestion. ‘And try the handle from the other side…?’ Hmm. ‘Let’s not get that drastic just yet. There must be other things we can think of. In the meantime, maybe we can ring a locksmith?’
- 07:30: ‘How do we do that?’
- 07:30.05: ‘On our phones.’
- 07:30.06: ‘Which are in the living room.’
- 07:30.07: ‘Oh. Yeah.’
- 07:31: Slight pause for swearing. At the door, not at each other. We’re in this together, man.
- 07:32: Another pause for catching breath.
- 07:33: I find a small padlock key that will crack the screws! Frabjous day! Calloh! Callay!
- 07:34: I manage to remove two of the four screws. Dearly Beloved removes the other two. We remove the handle. Nothing happens.
- 07:35: After staring at the handle for a while, we realise that the catch is definitely stuck. ‘If I can get something to grip the central post with,’ DB hypothesises, ‘I can turn it enough. Pliers or something…’
- 07:35.05: Which are in the kitchen. With the screwdrivers. Fuck you, tools. Fuck you.
- 07:36: DB goes upstairs to find something… um… grippy. Being a helpful sort, I try putting the handle back onto the post. This has the unexpected and unfortunate effect of accidentally taking out the central post as well. ‘Um… I may have just made the situation worse,’ I say sheepishly. By now, the situation has moved from the slightly annoying to the ridiculously ludicrous. It gets better.
- 07:38: Right. That’s it. I’m going to take this in hand. ‘Tell you what, I’LL go and knock on the neighbour’s door, shall I?’ I’m a bit narked by this point, so I stomp outside and knock. Properly, you know. Not with a feather wrapped in cotton wool. Neighbour comes to door. Explain situation, he very kindly loans me his mobile phone.
- 07:40: I call Directory Enquiries and ask for a Locksmith in the Sedgefield area. They put me through to a 24 hour call out. I explain the situation again, feeling like a bit… no, a lot of an eejit. ‘I’ll just check and see what we can do for you,’ says the nice young lady. Her name was Selena. That’s really not important, but that was her name anyway.
- 07:41: ‘We can get an engineer out to you in two hours,’ she says. I laugh, hollowly. ‘It’ll be £100,’ she adds in a chirpy, chipper tone that makes me want to ram the door handle down her neck. ‘OK,’ I say in a similarly chirpy, chipper tone. ‘Leave it with me and I’ll get back to you.’ She can read the hidden threat of violence.
- 07:42: Hang up and laugh hysterically for a while at the cost suggested. Resume considering point made in step 7. Break the glass nearest handle. This is a job for a Man, so I back away. DB puts a towel between the door pane and picks up the now-useless handle-complete-with-steel-post combo.
- 07:42.05: DB strikes the pane of glass very firmly.
- 07:42.06: Pane of glass doesn’t so much as crack.
- 07:42.10: DB removes towel and strikes pane of glass even more firmly. Three times. And it just stays in place.
- 07:45: Right. That’s it. Time for DB to truly demonstrate his machismo. He braces himself agains the wall, puts foot on the door and breaks the door open. HUZZAH! We are in. With a broken door, but we’re IN! And an interior door is going to cost a lot less than £100.
All this time, the cats were watching with feline curiosity as the Stupid Humans performed all the above. I think they sabotaged the door in the night. Because now, I won’t be able to shut them out. And our bedroom door, which is similarly rubbish, won’t close properly.