Friday, 24 January 2014

Life's a Square Cube


There are currently, actual numbers vary, two adults, three girls ranging in age from four to sixteen and three boys ranging in age from four to fourteen living in my house which has only one shower.  How long do you think it takes for all of them, one at a time, to have a shower?
I came in from work drawn, not least, by the intoxicating aroma of a decent feijoada simmering on the stove.  Now that I am working to my own drumbeat, I do cherish a good sluicing and a fresh change of clothes before sitting down to supper.  Last night, I ran out of nails so could not finish Stalag Luft III.  I cannot check in my flying guests until I know it is truly escape proof so rather than do nothing other than practice my ‘To cross ze vire is death!’ and ‘You, Chicken! Cooler!’, I decided to drive up to the restaurant site and nick all the extra scrap wood I needed to add the little ‘extras’ I had dreamt up.  Things like watchtowers, three tiered bunks, solitary confinement cells for broody hens and anti-tunnel footings for the perimeter fence.  Naturally, my notion of scrap differed somewhat from that of the Master Carpenter but after a one sided negotiation, during which I pulled rank, I came away with a truck load of suspiciously uniform ‘scrap’. 

Unloading the truck once I arrived home was easy.  I am feeling a little stiff lately but that has been accompanied by an enormous sense of achievement, an emotion I, as a responsible father, was duty bound to share with my eldest son.  So I told Dominic to unload the truck while I watered the raised beds.
Anyone who has looked after children will recognize this formula:

V2 = V1(C2/C1)3
Where V1 is the original level of noise, V2 is the new level of noise, C2 is the new number of children and C1 is the original number of children.

If we classify noise on a scale of one to a hundred, where one is hardly noticeable and a hundred is where thoughts of infanticide are overwhelming, and accept that a single reasonably well behaved child playing by itself might hit the scale at two, V2 will equal V1 as C1 is equal to C2.  Now let us increase C2 to two with V1, the noise one child produces, remaining at two.  Plug in the new value and you will see that V2 now equals sixteen.  Increase C2 to three and the value of V2, the amount of noise generated by three children, becomes fifty four.  Make the value of C2 six and you are so far off the scale I wasn’t the least bit surprised to note that Marcia was a tadge frazzled as I walked into the house.  By the way, the same formula can be used to calculate the noise a single woman can make depending on how hard a man has to concentrate on whatever he is trying to do. 
It is highly unusual for me to finish work while daylight remains so I was looking forward to a nice cool shower followed by a bit of self-indulgent idleness while waiting for supper to be served.  I quickly shepherded the children into their room and ordered them to select clean clothes before a run through the shower.  I stripped off in my room and padded into the shower first.  No soap.  I sent Dominic off to the shop to get a bar while I read some blogs.  He returned, informed me soap was in the shower, and I carried on reading intending to at least finish the blog post I was on.  I heard the lock click shut on the bathroom door.  No matter, let the kid finish and then I’ll dive in.  I waited, and I waited.  Bollocks to this, I thought, and went back to my blogs.  No sooner one out, then another in.  Alright, perhaps it’s best to let all the kids shower first.  The third went in and the sun set.  Marcia invited me to table as supper was ready.  I asked her to wait until we could all sit around the table together and then banged on the bathroom door.  Numbers four and five child in together; total time now around forty five minutes.  I could hear Alex, one of the two, complaining vociferously.  Dominic went in on the hour.  By now I was pissed off and starving.  He took exactly twenty minutes.  Eighty minutes for six children to shower.  As he came out, I went in pausing only to tell him to time me.  Two minutes later I was out and a minute after that I was dressed.  Where any of the kids sitting at the table? Of course not.  They were too busy creating mayhem in the bedroom and, I have to confess, little Alex was the noisiest stamping, as he was, his rights as permanent resident on the others.

As we finally gathered around the table and a weary Marcia started serving, she asked her equally weary husband what she had done to deserve a child like Alex.
Never one to shy away from my own part in the matter I said,

‘Oh that’s easy Darling, you let me shag you.’

26 comments:

  1. three of my four all insist on showering at the time i want to clean my teeth and get to bed. the other is pretty much always in the shower when i wake up busting every morning.
    i think eighty minutes for six is quite an achievement!
    and you can give up on everyone arriving before you to the table. your life and mine seem to have more similarities than i would have first thought!

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  2. If if that remark didn't earn you a slap...or perhaps she saw the funny side too?! I was never any good a physics, but then if I'd had a teacher like you, that formula would have been a piece of cake. Perhaps you could give me the one for a dollar amount per square inch of canvas.

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    1. I'll have to think about that. Emotion is so unpredictable and there's loads of it in the art world.

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  3. I'd never thought of my own children in terms of algebra; maybe I should have! But I did have 'hair washing time' competitions with my boys; we got the whole process down to less than 30 seconds, and they never did work-out my ulterior motives.

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    1. If it is Alex on his own, it is easy. I just hose him down in the garden!

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  4. Six kids including teenages in 80 minutes sounds pretty good to me especially when some were doubling up. They must have been hungry !

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    1. To be honest, I don't begrudge them. For two years before moving in here we were washing out of buckets.

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  5. I don't know about algebra or children but I know about shagging.

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    1. Hmm. I must swing over to your blog...

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  6. I like your equation, Tom. However, I question your turn of phrase: "... because you let me ..." So Alex's existence is down to Marcia. Nice one. Remind me to never play 'pass the parcel' with you.

    U

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    1. I would have thought my proceeding with her permission would be better than the alternative?

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  7. Like all adults, we complain to the offspring that they spend too long in the shower and use up all the hot water. We time them...never less than fifteen minutes each...but they insist they are there for less than two, and there must be a fault with the boiler....

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    1. Fortunately, hot water isn't an issue here, we all prefer cold showers but, if you are first, with 50 metres of pipe between the well and the shower, you can have a piping hot shower before it starts to run cool.

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  8. Your last remark proves what an old romantic you are. Like a knight in shining armour! As for the chicken accommodation you are constructing, you should take a look at "Chicken Run" directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park. Willard Tweedy was the hen-pecked farmer and if a stage version is ever put on, you would be ideal for that part Mr Hippy.

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    1. Was the Hen Pecked Farmer a downtrodden fat old bloke with a self deprecating wit?

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  9. In our house, if you are in the shower and someone turns a tap on in the kitchen, the shower temperature changes to boiling hot or freezing cold depending on what tap has been used in the kitchen. Maybe you should have the same system - that'd clear the blighters out of the shower in seconds. Yorkshire Pudding took the words out of my mouth - if you've never seen Chicken Run, you should. It sounds just like your Stalag Luft III. It's the hen equivalent of The Great Escape.

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    1. Nothing like good old British plumbing!

      I shall have to try and get hold of Chicken Run. If it is as good as Wallace and Gromit, Alex and I will really enjoy it!

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  10. I think 6 people showered and out of the bathroom in 80 minutes very good. I love long, hot showers, but having lived in a house where we had well water, i was always mindful of my water usage, and most often would shut the water off while i soaped up. When i take a shower, the water might run for five minutes total, and i know i could cut that time in half, but taking a minute or two to enjoy a hot, hot shower when it's subzero temperatures outside is a guilty pleasure i'm not ready to abdicate.

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    1. Funny that. Now that I get my water from the well I dug, I treat it as limitless. I have a hot water tank but I never switch it on, I can imagine that where you live, a hot shower is a blessing!

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  11. Being an old girl in Wisconsin, USA, I can only commend your patience and your virtue. I don't have to share with anyone but my husband. You are truly a Man Above The Others...I would have entitled myself to First Dibs. I admire your patience. A King amongst the little 'uns.

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    1. So if you had been an old girl in, say, Texas, you would not have been impressed?

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  12. Sedatives I say, slip some sedatives in their snacks and it should put the urchins down long enough for a nice peaceful shower.

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    1. There was a green cold and flu remedy called Night Nurse that made people sleepy. The only liquid I have that is green is Absinthe. Would that do?

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    2. Yes cough medicine will do. For your herd though, you'd need about a gallon of the stuff. As for the Absinthe it might actually be a waste of that rare elixir, but you never know, desperate times call for desperate measures, and since you've given up on the spirits......

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Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.