I'm chatting to a colleague about the work that's been going on at the Gingerbread House. A second colleague, in passing, says: -
"That's a bit mean, isn't it?"
We look at her, confused.
"It just seems a bit harsh," she says smartly. "Calling someone a retard."
Excuse me? Agog, we stare at her.
Then the penny drops.
"I was just saying," I say through a stiff smile, "That we were having our flat roof re-tarred."
A shock of crimson creeps up her neckline.
"I'm so sorry," she whispers.
And skulks off.
Our re-tarred roof:
And I won't even begin to tell you the hassle behind this re-tarredation. We got an estimate in April and, because of his apparent aversion to answering the telephone, we have struck up a penfriendship with the contractor: only after four months of bombarding him with e-mails did he finally send someone (two someones, in fact) along to do the job. The final straw came when we spent August moving buckets to catch drips: I took all of my feminist principles, shoved them in the dustbin and rang the contractor. Miraculously, he answered (not recognising my mobile number).
Poor little helpless ol' me, I explained, damsel-in-distressesque, was getting kind of tired of stubbing her toes on buckets. Could he possibly, possibly send someone by to fix our teensy-weensy roof?
Certainly, madam! he said - all burly and manly - we'll send someone over next week!
Emily Pankhurst is turning in her grave, but my roof has been tarred so she'd better deal with it.