So there I was, holding half a vacuum cleaner, covered in dust and staring at the wrong side of a locked door...
OK, let me start at the beginning.
On Saturday we had arranged to go down to the beloved's parents for the weekend, but they had to be out for most of the day, so we didn't need to leave home until about four in the afternoon. We figured we'd take the chance to sleep late... er, to do useful and valuable sorting out, unpacking and filing.
The plan also involved me taking the car round to the recycling centre with a couple of boxes of miscellaneous paper, cans, bottles and such, and also stopping by the supermarket we used to shop at to pick up some vouchers (Saturday being the last day we could do this).
I'd put my shoes on and was just getting ready to take the boxes out to the car when an idea occurred to me: I would empty the vacuum cleaner before I left.
It sounds like such a simple and harmless idea when I type it now.
This is a fairly new cleaner, bought not long before we moved house, and this happened to be the first time it had been emptied. Mr Dyson is a bright chap and the cleaner itself has various slots, switches... and a manual which got put away somewhere, never to be seen again, in the usual manner of such things.
I took the cleaner out to the front step, in case I dropped dust onto the carpet. We have a porch which also has a door which closes; I was stood just outside the porch, the beloved was standing in the porch with its door open, in his slippers, offering various bits of semi-helpful advice.
After various pokings and proddings of bits of cleaner, I managed to find the lever to release the body of the cleaner - the tank into which the dirt falls, and the filter and the handle - from the rest of it. Step one, complete. Now all I needed to find was the way in which you release the tank from the rest of the assembly, so that I could tip its contents into the bin.
If any of you own Dysons, you may stop laughing now.
I found the lever to perform this action, and pulled it. Unfortunately that nice Mr Dyson is very clever, and has removed the necessity for you to tip the tank up to empty it... the lever opens the bottom of the tank, so you can just hold it over the bin to empty.
Or, as a rather less useful alternative, you can hold it over your feet.
I stood in the middle of the pile of dust, which was now decorating my shoes, the path, and the rest of the cleaner itself. It pains me to recall, Gentle Reader, that one or two uncouth words may have escaped my lips.
It was at this point that the beloved, who was laughing along with me, pulled the door closed behind him so that the dust did not spread back into the house.
It was approximately 30 seconds later that he, too, started swearing, as he realised that he was not carrying a set of keys for the now-locked door. And neither was I. Still, at least I was wearing shoes.
We stood and stared at one another for a few moments as we desperately tried to think who might have a spare set of keys. Eventually the beloved remembered that our builder still had a set as he had some minor work to finish off. What we didn't have with us was (a) a phone; (b) the builder's phone number, (c) any money. However I could remember the number of the friend who had recommended the builder to us... who was, as it turned out, not at home.
It so happened that one of the bedroom windows was not as well closed as it might have been, so the beloved (who climbs for a hobby) decided he would like to try to borrow a ladder. I am not convinced that it is a good introduction line: "Hi, we're your new neighbours; could you help us break in to our house?"
With the aid of their ladder and a couple of pieces of wire, the beloved managed to gain entrance through the larger window next to the one which was slightly ajar. Shortly thereafter we were standing in our own kitchen, uttering phrases such as 'oops', 'sorry' and 'well, we know how to empty the vacuum cleaner now'.
Eventually we left for Southampton, arrived a bit later than scheduled at the beloved's parents, laughed together about what a plonker their son was at times, had some tea and cake and then went to pick up the friends with whom we were going to the cinema. The friends had recently acquired a pet rat; a rather handsome beige specimen named Joseph (actually Scabbers Joseph; they had asked the guy's children what they wanted to call the rat and, well, the kids have been inculcated with enough Potterdom that there was only ever likely to be one choice. The rat's owner, the chap's girlfriend, was less impressed so gave it two names. But I digress) which was apparently keen to enjoy human company.
It sat on my lap in its cardboard tube and submitted to being stroked carefully and tickled under the chin. However, after a few minutes I made the mistake of taking my eyes off it.
Rat teeth, at least those of a fairly young rat such as this one, cannot penetrate the human fingernail - I have first-hand evidence of this. Indeed, first-finger evidence. But damn, they can penetrate the human finger effectively. Joseph was returned to his cage while I dripped blood into the sink for several minutes, then borrowed disinfectant and plasters. It's a lot harder typing on a laptop when your finger is larger than usual (thankfully because of the plasters, not because of the swelling).
After all this, the rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful. Took the beloved's parents out for Sunday lunch (a belated birthday celebration). Came home and did some more tidying (the kitchen's almost habitable now). Spent today wrestling with balky software installs and annoying hardware Heisenbugs (computer freezes at random places during compiles; it's quite new so I think I will toss it back to the place whence it came and get them to sort it out).