Whenever some item or other breaks in my household, I always intend to return it or have it repaired. But then it languishes on the side in my study or by the back door because I mean to deal with it myself but never quite get around to it. Nor do I have the time to explain to someone else what needs doing. Thus a pair of Cost Centre #2’s worn-out shoes have been in a canvas bag next to said back door for some time, failing to make it anywhere near a cobbler. But I am not going to be the sort of person who throws things out, especially now that I have a TV programme that extols frugal living.
For TV, books and so on I have a manager, a Prominent Theatrical Agent. PTA recently decided to host a dinner for those of us managed by him, and their partners, plus for some reason Cost Centre #1, in a pub with rooms off the A3; his own CC#1 is the chef/manager.
I dressed up for the occasion; a Little Black Dress with more than a hint of cleavage, evening jewellery, hair newly washed, lots of eyeliner, lace stockings, my highest heels. I also packed carefully because after staying the night at PTA’s party we were having morning coffee at the Surrey mansion of My Wealthiest Girlfriend, who happens to be married to my former boss. I have known MWG for 25 years and she is always immaculately attired. I selected grey trousers, shoes, matching silk T-shirt and cardigan in plum, minimal but tasteful jewellery, daytime make-up, and put them all in my bag with my PJs and washbag.
When Mr M and I arrived at the pub, I suggested that we put our bags in the bedroom before joining the assortment of wacky talent that PTA had assembled. It was then that Mr M opened the car boot to reveal the bag containing CC#2’s battered old shoes. To say that I was incandescent with fury is something of an understatement. Well, he said, not apologetically enough for my liking, you said your bag was near the door, and this was exactly there. Mind you, he added, I did think it was rather light. Really? I observed through gritted teeth. Then why didn’t you check? Also, only two days before, we had been away to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary, and Mr M had carried my overnight bag several times then. I only possess one piece of Louis Vuitton luggage. Is it too much to remember what it looks like?
PTA took one look at us as we entered the pub and immediately assigned us a room with separate beds, but even so Mr M took the wise precaution of staying up until after 3am to make sure I was asleep (in his pyjamas) before he dared retire. As soon as the shops opened the next day I braved the Esher one-way system to find some muted make-up, but still turned up to MWG’s pile looking as though I was going straight on to Annabel’s.
Meanwhile, CC#3, left behind in the care of his former nanny, had taken himself off to the Apple store in Reading because his one-month-old iPod Touch had stopped working. The staff said that at 14 he was too young to consign it to their care so he returned the next day with the nanny. Sorry, they said, you were misinformed, no need to trek to a store – you just call Apple and they send you a Jiffy bag to post it back in. It would have been good to know this the previous day.
Soon after, I visited my parents whose Dyson vacuum cleaner, 18-months-old and under guarantee, had packed up. You can’t just send stuff back to Dyson these days, they talk you through DIY fixes over the phone. As this is beyond my 84-year-old parents I found myself on the line to a charming young man, taking lessons in how to dismantle the cleaner and put it back together again. Fixing things these days doesn’t seem to need anyone to leave home. Except, perhaps, in the case of shoes. Which are back by the door, no closer to the cobbler’s.