We promised the 6 year old a party when we moved house, as we missed hosting a birthday party when we moved to Dublin last year. It being near Halloween, and given the condition of our house, we decided on a haunted house party. Of course Mehdi pointed out after I sent the invitations that 'direlict' house would've been more accurate.
On our first morning in the house, we woke up to 1 working sink, 1 working toilet, no appliances, and no downstairs sink. We had litres and litres of our stuff crammed into white plastic boxes. None of this felt conducive to a great party. But on Monday I believed we'd somehow magic up the appliances and plumbing necessary to host 50+ adults and kids for a 2 hour period this coming Saturday.
Our appliances were due to arrive on the Thursday, so I tried to book Chris, our plumber, to come work his magic. Chris texted back 'can't do it. On holidays.'
We like Chris: his work is fast and seems sound, so we don't want a random plumber coming in and doing a rough job. I asked Chris if he could recommend anyone (reassuring him we want him back for the bigger plumbing jobs in the pipeline (ho ho ho)). He recommended Zac and I rang a few other numbers to get some quotes (Sarah Beeney would be proud). It turns out that getting a plumber in Dublin coming up to a bank holiday weekend is like trying to get an electrician after Hurricane Ophelia. My luck was not in. I got random prices from €140-350 for the same job. One chap arrived to price the job after I explained I needed it done by Saturday, only to explain to me that there was NO WAY he could do it by Saturday. He pointed out that if we'd called him - or any other plumber - early in the week, he could've done a 'first fix'. Suddenly memories of Sarah Beeney discussing 'first fixes' with her clueless proteges on Property Ladder resurfaced in my head. Of course we should've had a first fix done, where all the pipework (and the electrics if you've not just had a hurricane) are all 'fixed' and ready to go when your equipment arrives - it's kind of plug and play after that. That was a moment of no small frustration.
Last night I was sat staring at our plastic-packed appliances that had been delivered by one very gruff Northern Irish delivery man who demanded I show several passports in order to prove I was the rightful owner of the appliances he had in his van. After proving my identity I offered the men a drink. The other guy asked for a whiskey. I don't think he was joking, but didn't dare open it in case I'd feel the need for something medicinal way too early in the day. I was tired from work and managing the boys alone (Mehdi was off in Belfast to pick up a table and some other bits and pieces we'd been donated by one of my brothers and his lovely wife) and sat there thinking OH GOD WE WILL NEVER EVER DO THIS...
It's not that there weren't plus sides - the house is giving us plenty to work with in terms of atmosphere: crumbling walls, dirty torn curtains, cobwebs, dust, dirt and bones). And a month ago (one whole optimistic month ago) I ordered fancy paper plates and Halloween decorations on Amazon, which mostly arrived. We've amassed a small army of pumpkins. But having spent a week on my knees in the bathroom washing dishes in the bath had not given me my party pants feelings.
Friday morning I told Mehdi to expect Zac at around 11am and I set off on the school run with the 6 year old dressed as a werewolf. When I arrived back much later (having attempted to arrive at a workshop that I was not invited to that had been cancelled...but that's another story), I found Zac in the kitchen measuring up our appliances and pipeholes. 2 hours later, we had 3 working sinks and 2 toilets (who cares if 2 of these are outside?). We now have working dishwasher, sink and washing machine. I assembled the table and we ate our dinner sitting on chairs for the first time this week. After dinner we set to the task of moving acres of plastic boxes up into the attic bedroom so we have space for all our guests.
At 8pm the doorbell rang. I answered thinking it was some early trick or treaters - but it turned out to be the Tesco shop I'd forgotten we'd ordered. I think my delight disconcerted the delivery man. I'm not sure he is greeted by such excitement (and gratitude) when making his rounds.
Kids are sleeping. Chilled and frozen food is now stacked in the fridge and freezer. The house smells a lot like direliction, but there's a definite mulled wine lick to the air too, as Mehdi gets his production underway. There's still tonnes - and I mean TONNES to be done...including bashing any sticking up nails down, hoovering and cleaning the whole house (yet retaining the haunted atmos), food to prepare, decorations to put up. But I feel - again I feel - we can pull this off...