Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Fairlie: Well James, I have an umbrella problem. My husband is incapable of going past an abandoned umbrella. No case is too hopeless.

JV: Right.

Fairlie: He brings them home, and he takes them down into his shed, and he performs transplants on them.

JV: Oh, okay. Wow.

Fairlie: He’ll put different handles onto different bodies.

JV: Oh, yeah so he grafts them?

Fairlie: He grafts them and I think it’s unnatural. I think it’s playing around with nature.

JV: He’s a Frankenstein.

Fairlie: He’s like the Dr Frankenstein of umbrellas. And the scary thing is, when they’re fixed, he scratches his name and phone number on them and if you take one out and leave it behind somewhere you may as well change your name and go into a witness protection program.

JV: Wow. Woe betide those who lose one of his rescued umbrellas.

Fairlie: Exactly.

JV: Gee that is an interesting obsession isn’t it.

Fairlie: It is interesting. We’ve almost had accidents backing up on the road. He sees one and reverses.

JV: (laughs) Has he always done this?

Fairlie: It’s getting worse.

JV: Oh, it’s getting worse.

Fairlie: We’ve got so many umbrellas. I can’t tell you how many umbrellas we’ve got. He still keeps stopping and fixing.

JV: Fairlie…are you okay?

Fairlie: Yes.

JV: Do you need a moment?

Fairlie: (deep breath) I’ll be right.

JV: Wow. In all other respects a wonderful man?

Fairlie: Oh yes, yes, yes. Never a dull moment.

JV: No, it sounds like it! I’ve never heard of an umbrella hospital before. They’re reasonably cheap.

Fairlie: Yes (laughs)

JV: I like the fact that he’s possessive of them. I thought what you were going to say was that he…

Fairlie: No he’s not giving them away to charity or anything.

JV: Well I thought was that he might spread them back into the world. So that there were functioning umbrellas. Y’know ‘Oh that one works, isn’t that fantastic?’

Fairlie: Not a hope.

JV: Right. They become his.

Fairlie: They become his.

JV: Can you estimate how many umbrellas might be in the shed now?

Fairlie: Oh, well there’d be dozens of them.

JV: Dozens of them?

Fairlie: Dozens of them.

JV: What about…you’re on your way to dinner for example…

Fairlie: Oh no, of course we have to stop. Driving rain, you name it.

JV: Right, out he’ll get. You’re walking up the street and you’re going to go into a restaurant. He’s picked up a rescued umbrella?

Fairlie: That’s it. Sometimes he even puts pipes on them if he hasn’t got the right handle that’ll match a body.

JV: Well it’s good he’s got an interest Fairlie.

Fairlie: Yeah right.

JV: Does he ever turn any of these skills to anything else?

Fairlie: Leave it with me. I’ll think of something else and ring you again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


JV: Welcome to This Is What I Live With. With what do you live?
Matt: Look I’ve been married for over 20 years to a wonderful wife and absolutely fantastic mother who now refuses on principal to ever check the pockets of shirts and pants going in the wash for tissues...with the inevitable result that every now and then it’s the tissue apocalypse. On a point of principle I always check for tissues before they go in the wash and now the Maginot line of domestic discussion has been set, beyond which there’s just casualties and conflict. So it is what it is.
JV: So it’s an entrenched warfare at the moment over the tissue check?
Matt: It is.
JV: Over whose responsibility it is. Now there’s children you said?
Matt: Yes, three children.
JV: What age?
Matt: Ah, 16 through to nine and yes, you could argue that they should check themselves and all of that, however...
JV: At what age do you first expect your child to have the wherewithal to check for tissues Matt?
Matt: Ah well, perhaps at some point along the continuum. However, when they are ten years beyond where they are now, it’ll still be the same.
JV: In the domestic division of labour department, who’s in charge of washing?
Matt: Oh, it’s pretty evenly spread.
JV: So you might do it sometimes?
Matt: So I have plenty of practice and authority to say ‘well I always check,’ and  the answer is ‘well it ain’t my job.’ So we move on.
JV: Look, I’m going to come down strongly on this one Matt. It’s not my want, necessarily, to have a definite opinion in this area, but I want to open up the discussion with you and the wife. I want you to go back and say ‘James says...
JV: ‘You’re completely wrong. You’ve got it wrong.’
Matt: Yeah...ah...
JV: If you are standing at the washing machine preparing the garments for washing who else’s job should it be? You want to ruin a whole batch of washing on a point of principle that other people should have checked their pockets. You are preparing the garments for washing.
Matt: That’s exactly what happens throughout the year. On a regular basis, something will get missed.
JV: Of course.
Matt: And you’ve got the tissue covered batch of clothes on the line and we spend the rest of the week picking it off. It’s all avoidable I would argue.
JV: Yeah, I know. Look, isn’t that the same as saying ‘well you didn’t tell me that this was a chocolate stain so how was I meant to know?’ Like, it’s your job. You’re doing the washing..You check the washing.
Matt: You’re sailing a very fine line there.
JV: It’s not a fine like. Look, I think you’ve just got to get a large laminate printed up and stick that on the thing.
Mat: I think I used the term before Maginot line of domestic discussion and it’s impregnable.
JV: Why is she so determined about this?
Matt: Well it has literally become a point of principle. It doesn’t matter what the practicalities are, it’s now a ‘well I said it then. I think I still mean it now,’ and away we go.
JV: So as she hangs out tissue-flecked washing on the hills hoist she has a little glow of satisfaction. ‘I told you so.’
Matt: Exactly. Exactly. Whereas I just think ‘well, there’s a pointless bit of damage that we could have avoided along the way.’

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


JV: Welcome to ‘This is what I live with.’ What do you live with?

Maria: My husband has a funny thing about his sheets.

JV: Mm.

Maria: The pillow cases have to be open-inward. So he can’t sleep with the opening facing into the middle of the bed which is weird for me.

JV: Okay

Maria: He also cannot have the pillow case or the sheets wrinkled when he gets in the bed and he cannot put his face on a wrinkled pillow case.

JV: Gee an unwrinkled pillow case is hard to achieve.

Maria. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know.
(Both laugh)

Maria: He has to have it slapped with no wrinkles.

JV: Slapped pillow case. No wrinkles. Right. I mean I would tend to tighten up the sheets. Y’know, I don’t check for wrinkles but I’d certainly smooth it out a little and tighten it up. Are you saying the slightest wrinkle in the sheet and there’s an issue?

Maria: Yeah. On his part of the bed he has to tighten it up but also on the pillow case – the pillow case has to be flattened. Just perfectly flat. I don’t understand that at all.

JV: Yeah. I’d never worried about which way the opening of the pillow case faces.

Maria: Yeah that is... and it looks so wrong because I mean you go to any department store and you see when they do the’s so wrong to me but he can’t have it. He can’t have the openings facing outwards.

JV: Is he happy to do the arranging here or do you have to do it?

Maria: Oh he’ll do it. He’ll do it.

JV: So he’ll straighten his own thing out and get it sorted?

Maria: Yes, yes, yes.

JV: Now we met Maria before whose husband must have smooth sheets and must have the opening of the pillow slip on the inside of the bed.

Caroline: Well I’m wondering if her partner is the son of a nurse because nurses were trained to make the bed where the opening of the pillow is in the centre of the bed. So, if it’s a double bed, the opening’s are touching y’know what I mean?

JV: Ah! And why are nurses trained thus?

Caroline: I think it was so that, when people came in to visit the person in bed, that the neat end of the pillow is facing the door.

JV: Oh okay yes because I was just thinking that there’s not a lot of double beds in hospitals.

Caroline: No, no, no. It’s to do with the door.

JV: It faces away from the door because there’s something unseemly about the opening of the pillow slip.

Caroline: I’m the daughter of a nurse and I’ve always done the same thing and I’m wondering if that was the case for him.

JV: That’s interesting.

Caroline: Mm. Fascinating isn’t it.

JV: Well I think what we’re doing in this segment is we’re getting a faint sense of the deep family background.

Caroline: Absolutely.  Deep Psychological insights.