A Tale of Fetid Fridges and Runaway Reptiles

MM is back after a fabulous week away, during which she avidly soaked up friendship, family, fresh air, open spaces and glorious views. Oh, and a few beers too. I slept like a log, surfacing to the sound of cow bells every morning for seven heavenly days.

The return home was gradual, as if we needed weaning out of our holiday stupor. We took the long road home along beautiful country roads. PF whistled happily and I realised that life was fabulous. My brow furrowed: if things are too good to be true, it generally means something is about to go awry.

On our arrival in our neighbourhood, a premonitory sighting of Gargamel did nothing to reassure me. He was parading on his terrace in his underpants, his beer gut drooping petulantly over his knicker elastic. We lowered our heads and headed through the front door to discover a strange smell. My brain ran it though the “least favourite smell” data base and found a match: rotting lemons.

English Electric Refrigerator Ad, 1950

MM proudly presenting the contents of her  fridge on her return from holiday (Photo credit: alsis35 (now at ipernity)

The kitchen was not only smelly, but ominously silent: the characteristic hum of the fridge was missing. A howl of anguish escaped from the living room as technological cold turkey hit Bigfoot. After a week sandwiched between a lake and a field of cows in the back of beyond, he had discovered that the internet was down.

Yes, folks…. Murphy’s Law had struck again. The long-awaited storm had finally arrived to clear the air-shortly after our departure for a holiday. The fuses had promptly blown, and the house had waited patiently in Provençal temperatures until I arrived home to flip the switch… eight days later.

The fridge was full of the food I had planned for our return home, all in varying states of decay. It was modern art: a desolate landscape of yoghurt pots stretched across the top shelf, their bloated lids straining at the seams. Below, a gleaming slab of cheese curled gently at the corners. Milk paraded as cottage cheese in the door, and a family of mummified lemons was hiding in the vegetable tray, each tastefully clad in designer coat of green fur. The carnage continued in the freezer, where a huge joint of wild boar, kept for “a big day”, diffused strong scents of venison, and the individual meals I had prepared for PF swam lengths of a freezer drawer full of water, their curved lids tauter than Rihanna’s buttocks.

If the fridge-freezer fiasco had been the only problem on our return, things would have been fine. But destiny had another trick up her sleeve. Whilst washing the yeast off my hands in the bathroom (tip of the day: frozen yeast grows beautifully in a dark, defrosted freezer tray if there is some warm melted water on the side), I clapped eyes on MG.

MG is short for Matière Grise: Grey Matter. MG is the cleverest of P.F’s four snakes*. He had apparently got through the crack in the tank door with as much ease as Bernard Tapie getting out of a lawsuit. He (MG, not Bernard Tapie) had set up residence between the toilet duck and the floor cloth in my cleaning bucket, his head draped nonchalantly across the scrubbing-brush. His tongue flickered lazily as he gave me the one-over like a drunken old man propped up at the bar in a night club. Before he had time to ask me what a great girl like me was doing covered in yeast in a place like this, I picked him out of the bucket and took him back to the tank…. where Jaypi, the dumbest of the python brotherhood, was waiting. Alone.

There is no need to be Einstein to know that 4 – 2 = 2 runaway reptiles. They had followed MG on his bid for freedom, and were on a jail break jaunt around the house. Little My found overturned picture frames in the living room, and Rugby-boy returned from his room complaining that it had been visited. We spent two hours hunting for them, to no avail: snakes are better at hide and seek than Yvan Colonna**.

The following morning, I was having my first caffeine fix when I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. Escaped convict number two was inspecting me from his newly acquired luxury home below the dishwasher. As I moved in on him, he gracefully slid out of sight. Not to be deterred, MM dismantled the skirting board, evicted the disgruntled holiday-maker, and returned him to his cell.

Runaway number three had given away his location upstairs by knocking all the shampoo bottles into the bath overnight. My offer to bait him with pictures of Harry Potter was refused by the hunting committee. We finally got Nagini back to Reptile HQ on Monday night, when Little My spotted him curled up on the tumble drier, no doubt waiting for her to fill the bath so that he could have a swim.

Tank security has now been reinforced, and all occupants are counted at bedtime and breakfast. We are sure that they are already planning their next great escape…..

*  In light of a recent event in Canada, I would like to specify that our snakes are legally acquired, one metre long, docile and inoffensive.

** Yvan Colonna is a Corsican nationalist accused of assassination in 1998 who fled and avoided arrest for five years. 

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42 thoughts on “A Tale of Fetid Fridges and Runaway Reptiles

  1. Snakes on a plane or in a house would cause me to bail out. Respect to you guys for calmly gathering serpents as you went. The fridge would have made me leave home too…..or made me want to leave home. Hope everything’s back to normal.

    • I’m sure you’d find that snakes aren’t so scary after all. We’re used to them as PF has been a snake fan for years. The fridge was a different story; I was scared that the lemons would attack me.

  2. I can just picture the smell, as it were, as I’ve had a similar experience, although my fridge freezer decided to die on my while I was in the UK over New Year. I retched as I came in through the door. What a waste of all that lovely food in your fridge though, and the prospect of immediate shopping as a result. These things are sent to try us!

    I came home to take my car to the garage and be told it was dead basically. I love home-comings… Glad you had a lovely time away. We did too. 🙂

      • Thanks for the sympathy, Sarah. I would have gone shopping… but it was Saturday evening and everything was closed. My car went to the garage on Monday too (great engines obviously think alike) so we’re eating all the tinned food (except for the KiteKat).

      • We lived off tins and the freezer until shopping day on Wednesday too. I was determined not to shop early and join the throngs after work.

      • I am discovering that my cupboards are full of stuff we can’t actually eat, they’re full of spices, flour, tea-bags and porridge oats. No news from the garage and no car. Tonight it’ll be porridge sprinkled with earl grey 🙂

  3. What a nice welcome home… we accidentally left our fridge open the other day and the stench was unbearable after just 24 hours, I can’t imagine how bad it must have been! And as if the fridge wasn’t bad enough, I don’t think I could have handled the snakes on the loose as well! You sound remarkably calm about it all though…

    • The stench was horrible. Not as bad as seeing Gargamel in his undies, though…. I’m not scared of snakes because PF worked with them for ten years, so we’re all used to them. Although I do admit that 4m long Medusa used to freak me out slightly.

      • They’re more scared of you, honest 🙂 Don’t bug them and they won’t bug you – people decide to kill them when most of them are totally harmless or not even snakes in the first place (the slow worm is actually a lizard that lost its legs during evolution, and they always get massacred by total planks who think that they are snakes).

  4. I recall Medusa with great affection……..I remember going walkies with her along the corridor in PF’s lab!
    We too had a power failure when we were away on holiday the other year. When we returned, our huge forty year old (and full!) chest freezer down in the garage was emitting stink to the value of an army of rotting rodents.
    The good news was that the insurance company insisted on being absurdly generous.

    • Medusa was a corker. She died of pneumonia, a real Jane Austen heroine… I decided against contacting our insurance company as they would ask me for receipts I don’t have any more, and I don’t think that JJ’s recital of his hunting exploits to catch the joint of wild boar will wash. I’m looking on the bright sie of things: it got the fridge-freezer defrosted, after all….

  5. Lovely to hear you had such a great trip. I am a bit jealous, but not of the return. I enjoy hearing of women who aren’t afraid of snakes and such. I am not afraid of them. I admire them, but the only one I am likely to have in my house til the Munchkin gets older is Monty.

  6. Those smart snakes have been planning an escape plan all along while your gone, but ain’t smart enough to find the main exit lol 🙂 I can just imagine the look of your fridge, better leave it empty on your next trip.

  7. This is my first visit and I will definitely be returning for your clever writing. I think we all fear the power going out when we are away. Not a good welcome home…at all.

    • Hello Karen! Thanks for your visit, and for the kind words (MM pulls out dark sunglasses and feels like a real star). The car died on us in sympathy the next day- so if things come in threes we should be finished with bad karma for a while now (MM crosses fingers, toes and everything else she has two of. Except my boobs, which I can’t cross. Yet.)

  8. While it is a bit of a crisis – you handled it like Superwoman! And being able to laugh about it? Shows character. When these things happen I try to remind myself about all the much worse things that could have happened, but didn’t (keeps me from having tantrums when tantrums won’t help).

    • We reminded ourselves that worse things could happen too. The car broke down the next day. Is that karma biting me on the bum? Hmmm. I can’t remember the last time I had a tantrum; apparently grown-ups aren’t allowed to do that. shame, it’d probably make my offspring sit up and wonder 🙂

  9. Argggh!! The defrosted freezer would have been bad enough on its own but escaped snakes? You must love PF very, very much to live with him AND reptiles. 🙂 A smashing post – funny and beautifully observed.

  10. No, no, nono no no. No. snakes…::shiver:: first: glad you had nice holiday away! second: coming home to multiple mishaps, sheesh. we came home yesterday to a smell from the sink..i couldn’t imagine slithering reptiles too!

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