It’s early October.
In horse racing terms, the flat season (champagne and pate de foie gras) begins to give way to the jumps season (beer and a burger). In football terms, the league table starts to mean something and a Premier League manager or two are ripe for the chop. The nights start drawing in and I start to wonder where, back in May, did I put my bike lights? I can walk down the street in a coat without attracting disapproving looks like those I got in July from those who were convinced that we had been transported to Death Valley, California. But the massive down-side is that the days of hanging-out the washing are fast disappearing. Perhaps the number is now in single figures. This may indeed be the last weekend where I can stand, in ever-weakening sunlight, and deliberate about how many pegs each item deserves.
Ah, yes. Er. Well…
You’ve got your “one peg” items like a sock or handkerchief. Then there’s your “two peggers” like a pair of trousers. But beyond that it gets complicated. Some items fall between the two. A child’s pair of trousers, for instance. One peg or two? A large bath towel? Yes, I hear you saying “Oh definitely two” but you’re forgetting other factors. The towel is quite wet (therefore quite heavy) and it’s a sunny day (in early October, admittedly) with very little wind. I therefore put it to you that said bath towel can be regarded as a “one pegger” in such circumstances. There’s not enough wind to blow it off the line, saturated as it is (I think the spin cycle on the washing machine is playing up). I may even be so bold as to advance the theory that no pegs at all are required, but I understand that such bold thinking is frowned upon. Austerity doesn’t extend that far.
One of my polo shirts? Start it off with just one peg. If the wind gets up as it starts to dry we may need to get out there and add another peg.
Socks? One of the more problematic items. Ideally, tumble dryer (where they will be left with all their relatives, for days and days until I start to wonder where all the bloody socks have gone). If you have to hang them out to dry, they don’t deserve a peg of their own. Two socks together qualify for a peg, yet can hamper effective drying. See what I’m saying here?
The weird thing is, we have bloody hundreds of pegs. I could peg each sock, double-peg each shirt, triple-peg each pair of trousers, each bath mat, each duvet cover. We have enough pegs for that. Yet it can’t be done.
Firstly, when that big black cloud moves over (as it inevitably will), it’s a race against time to get all the stuff off the line. That’s when you’re thankful that you only “one-pegged” that pillowcase. But, in addition and much more importantly, the committee are watching.
Er, yes. The committee.
A group of men. Middle-aged and older men. They sit in a boardroom in, I think, Canary Wharf. There’s about seven of them. One of them is James Spader (I have no idea why). And to them I justify how many pegs I’m using for each item. (In my head of course, I’m not completely unhinged). Another one is that bloke, I can’t remember his name, who played the nasty one in “Robocop”. They sit in judgement on my peg allocations. Occasionally, I’m called in to appear in front of them because of some outrageous error of judgement on my part.
“You three-pegged a child’s jumper on Tuesday, Carter. What the hell were you thinking”? would ask the one from Robocop.
“We had single-pegging on a duvet cover last week, despite 15 mile-an-hour winds, and it ended up on the shed roof” barks an old bloke in a grey suit with even greyer hair (I think he may have been in “Patriot Games”).
The committee aren’t happy. Over-pegging, under-pegging…not good.
I’m asked to stand outside for a few minutes whilst they discuss things. I get a plastic cup of water from a machine. Then I’m called back in by the secretary. I think she was in “Backdraft”.
“You’re a loose cannon, Carter. But we’re going to give you one last chance. But no more screw-ups” says James Spader.
I can see that Ed Harris isn’t happy with me getting another chance. Bollocks to him. He was rubbish in Apollo 13.
“Thank you, sir” I splutter.
Backdraft woman ushers me out.