There’s no situation that’s not redeemed by a slice of cake

I know that’s a bold claim to make, but time without number I’ve found that baking cakes beats any antidepressant on the market. Yesterday was a total bummer, what with the shed and the greenhouse being vandalized; and it went on getting worse when the lights all failed, and then Madame came out of the bathroom with wet feet and we discovered that for the second time we were being inundated with water from the flat above. Actually after some frantic messaging on the house Whatsapp group, we discovered that the water was coming from two floors above us and filtering merrily down through the electricity conduits and out through a light fitting! – it was the result of a botched attempt to remove a blockage from a bath that somehow disconnected the whole pipe. Luckily we caught it in time and after a couple of hours dripping into a bowl, we ran the dehumidifier flat out for a couple of hours. Living in a concrete building means that the winter is a constant battle against black mould and so we circulate the dehumidifier around the flat to keep it under control. Profuse apologies from our upstairs neighbour gave us the chance of a first conversation, although I’m not sure what he made of us.

Of course the night before last was pretty much taken up with lying in bed staring at the ceiling and trying to manage my anger. I think I got about four hours sleep in the end; my placid and saintly response yesterday was only possible after an exhausting inner battle. Then very early today – just to compound our joy – there was a burglary next door at four thirty a.m. with a good deal of shouting and revving of engines none of which I heard because I was sleeping with my deaf side uppermost. Helpfully, Madame soon woke me and obliged me with a running commentary. The police turned up mid morning and gave the owners a crime number, which will be the last time that anyone hears anything.

If there’s a lesson in all this it’s simply that sometimes I find I have to manage my anger intellectually and then allow the resolution to percolate through to my unconscious for a couple of days to mature into acceptance. The shed and the greenhouse were our Christmas presents to one another five years ago when we took on the second half-plot on the allotment. But there – we can walk away from any unforgiving, angry feelings because we are free to be free of negative thoughts. The people who did the damage may not have mastered that gift yet and more likely than not, their lives are completely impoverished and blighted by destructive instincts . I wish them no harm other than the harm they bring on themselves which, if they choose, can become the motivation for change.

Anyway, an early grocery delivery had me out of bed soon after six, and I decided that the only way forward was to bake a cake, make some bread and go up to the allotment to finish the running repairs – which is what we did. I think we both came to the conclusion that rather than spending a great deal of money on replacing the toughened glass, we could substitute polycarbonate sheets that, ‘though they wouldn’t be quite as good, are at least much harder to smash. When we first took on the allotments we wanted everything to be as perfect as possible but the thieving and vandalism are so prolific we just can’t risk the expenditure – and so just as we did when the cold frames were stolen – we look for a route around the mountain rather than over it. The shed window is now covered with an old compost bag, and the greenhouse is swaddled with some left over pond liner held in place with posts, staples, and gaffer tape. It’s not pretty but it keeps the wind and rain out. We’ll never let the darkness win.

When I started this blog I put in a category called “Uncle Jim” which I don’t think I’ve ever tagged a post with. For a long time I considered removing it from the list of categories. In the HG Wells Story “A history of Mr Polly” – which gave me the name for the blog – there’s a drunken and violent character known as Uncle Jim, the landlady’s nephew, who remains a constant threat to the hero until one day, he returns to the Potwell Inn breathing fire and revenge. After a series of epic battles and in the course of the ninth chapter he manages to steal Mr Polly’s coat and an old rifle and then disappears altogether only to be found washed up on a beach wearing Polly’s coat. He is then misidentified as Polly which frees our hero (and his wife) from a suffocating marriage. She claims the insurance and finds happiness running a cafe in Canterbury, and he returns to the generously proportioned landlady of the Potwell Inn – a sort of Ma Larkin – in a setting suspiciously familiar to me. And so, today, I’m tagging this post as the first and possibly the only time I’ll use the category Uncle Jim.

Tomorrow we shall have tea and cake and do the seed order. I can almost taste those Minnesota Midget melons already!

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