Legal Widow

I was chopping onions on the kitchen counter last week when there was a huge, sucking, “whump” sound. Somewhat concerned, I opened the doors under the sink to find a mass of what looked like brown, sodden Shredded Wheat lying on top of the Jif bottles.

It seems the kitchen, installed by the house’s previous owners in the dreary 1970s when mud-brown was the colour and Formica tops the stuff of every housewife’s dreams, has given up on me. The taps have secretly been leaking and the body of the woodchip underneath has fallen off, leaving me only a thin veneer of kitchen counter to work upon.

Leaving aside allusions to time and the ageing process, I am worried that I will go right through while working on a recalcitrant carrot and spear the water pipes or, worse, a lurking four-year-old playing hide and seek. Something must be done.

Subjudice, who has been watching far too much daytime television over the Easter holidays, informs me that I need at least a 900mm double oven with built-in wok and tempura pan, but as most of my family (and guests) won’t eat anything but fish fingers and baked beans, I hardly see the point. On the other hand, I figure if she wants it so much I can always dip into her trust fund, so I get a few sky-high quotes, just for the hell of it.

The Lawyer, whose wallet seems to have mysteriously healed over again after the recent pay rise, predictably explodes, stating that he won’t pay that much for a room he only ever eats cornflakes in.

I remind him that it is, in effect, my workplace, and if he spent as much on it as his firm recently shelled out on new ergonomic seats and keyboards I’d have a granite-covered fridge, floor and sink, never mind worktops.

Three of his colleagues have recently gone off sick with RSI. I pointed out that, as it seems to be the right index finger that is the afflicted area in each case, I’d put it down to a surfeit of Tetris or Boxes. However, the firm has gone bananas about it.

When secretaries get RSI they soldier on with braces, journalists bravely stab out thousands of words on the syndrome with their knuckles, but when lawyers get it there’s absolute mayhem.

The prospect of lawyers being physically unable to fill out time sheets is unthinkable, so there’s a flurry of measuring of inside legs and hands-on posture adjustment from bright young consultants in little skirt suits. Sounds very enjoyable. The nearest I get to such legitimate thrills is when the electrician asks me to hold the ladder for him. Needless to say, the firm’s secretaries are still on their wooden benches and

driving the IT equivalent of pedal sewing machines.

I threaten to get an ergonomic analysis of my workplace and cost the real solution – a full-time cook and housekeeper, not to mention Marks and Spencer duck a l’orange delivered nightly – unless he coughs up.

I show the sodden battlefield that is the inside of my kitchen cupboard and remind him that the summer season of barbecues is approaching. As 99 per cent of barbecues are spent indoors, gazing out at the pouring rain, it pays to have a posh kitchen to eat your teriyaki prawns in. And besides, Subjudice’s double oven has a fantastic griddle attachment. Equity, I tell him, goes to high maintenance people. And don’t you forget it.