Firstly the plan of action needed to include food. Team China (That is me and the man who claims to be quarter Chinese. Did you know that being a quarter Chinese is apparently enough to qualify for the national sport teams over there? ) just gets hungry. We managed to find some crisps in the fridge (don’t ask) and after briefly considering the tins (Sliced water chestnuts anyone?), bread and cheese were made into a midnight feast.
As it was late, we decided it was better to get some sleep and go to the neighbour first thing in the morning to gently notify the parents and call a plumber. We got the electric heater and the gas heater from the basement to try to warm up the livingroom. (This was obviously a boy-job, even if only because the gas heater was practically the same size as the girls.) The electric heater kept cutting the electricity in the house and after the gas heater briefly started working, it promptly set off the smoke alarm. It was 2am and still freezing. Someone mentioned it had all the ingredients for a horror movie and the chance to be beheaded or eaten by the vengeful flies in our sleep got bigger by the minute… Luckily it is a well-known fact that virgins never die in these tales, so we girls should be ok. Hoorah!
The bedrooms were to be divided: my friend and his girlfriend would obviously share a room but Team China decided to do the same to deal with the cold. Given that he is engaged to be married and I really do not know him that well, this could have been an awkward affair were it not for the cold. A trunk full of classic knitted jumpers, fleeces and skiing gear was discovered and it became a free for all. Layers were put on while drinking whiskey and Cointreau for warming reasons of course (“I could only find a sherry-glass to pour it in, I hope it won’t offend your palate.”)
I was now to be sharing a bed with a man dressed in thick socks, thermals and tight female skiing trousers, T-shirts, fleece jumper and a huge orange and black striped knitted jumper with a tigerface on the front. To top this stylish outfit off he wore a wooly hat. As I was dressed in similar attire, it was safe to say that his fiancée had officially nothing to worry about. We were fully dressed under two down duvets and a blanket which later turned out to be a very old camel mat (Whooooops! Sorry Mr and Mrs D, honest mistake.) It was 3am and it was still freezing…
The next morning the neighbour turned out to be a true legend, positively unfazed by everything. (After forgetting where we were and some un-PC comment about ‘Us Chinese’ in her kitchen, she casually mentioned she had Malay ancestry and was welcomed as an honorary member of Team China!)
Her kitchen table with coffee and a bacon sarnie breakfast welcomed our motley crew: dressed in pyjamas, dare I mention Ugg-boots and huge knitted Christmas jumpers with faces that showed signs of only a couple of hours sleep. Still we managed to walk into the village dressed as M&S Christmas advert rejects. We even made friends with the people in the corner shop (“Hmmm, you don’t seem to be from around these parts…”) who recommended more wine to cheer us up.
Back in the house it was time for the montage part of this film. The electricity worked again (alas-still no heating)and the kitchen was mopped and cleaned, the flies were dealt with by modern central hoovering system as well as the trusty dustpan and broom – with all the ornaments it was not an easy task – but the music was on, people were singing, wine was taken from the cellar that was luckily still dry and soon we only had to await the plumber and his verdict.
(to be continued…)