Friday, 30 July 2010

"Salad Days"

I seem to have found yet another thing to fail spectacularly at.  Managing staff.  Clearly I'm not cut out for a life of luxury  - which the husband thinks is a good thing...given that he has no intention of providing me with such.

We currently have three staff.  The gardener is a lovely boy who speaks barely a word of English but can often be found procuring 'life savers' for Dumps (ie. long thin sticks masquerading as Star Wars weapons).  He and I have little to do with each other except when I accidentally catch him in his underpants having a shower in the garden shed. 

Kadek our pembantu is still with us, and looks as though she will be for the duration, for the simple reason that we appear unable to let her go.  The husband won't do the dirty deed and nor will I, so despite being overstaffed, we continue to have her come everyday, make french toast, and play 'monster' with the Dumps.  With not a whole lot else for her to do, she is at least not afraid of getting her hands dirty (quite literally) and thus I suppose is useful to have around when Dumps decides he can't be bothered to use the lavatory. 

Nyoman the full-time cook and cleaner who came with this place is a force to be reckoned with.  She is one clever lady and having worked here for three years, this is clearly her turf and we are mere interlopers.  She is nice enough but not exactly the 'mucking in' sort. As far as I can tell, she's rather handy with a broom, makes our beds and transports giant water refill containers for us back here on her scooter...but sweet little else.  Sorry, that's not true.  She makes killer salads.  

But honestly, sometimes the husband and I feel swamped by staff. When the monsters are at school there are sometimes three workers here, stumbling about, in the way, keeping this place from feeling like our own private hideaway.  

I've fallen into the trap of doing everything myself - simply because I have exacting high standards.  Which means that I'm often in the uncomfortable position of having to sneak around and 're-do' things so as not to offend.  That is for example how I found myself creeping back into the kitchen this afternoon and remaking a coffee which Kadek had earlier prepared for me.  She had put what tasted like 17 teaspoons of sugar in it,  and had delivered this sickly sweet beverage lukewarm on account of all the excessive milk.  Oh well, suppose it's a step up from last weeks coffee which was made by adding warm tap water to our expensive coffee grinds while I looked on in astonishment.

But nothing has been quite as amusing as watching the husband play at being Jamie Oliver, chattering his way through an impromptu lesson with Nyoman the other day, on how to make a sandwich.  Trapped in the kitchen, she politely looked on as he assembled a rather decent cheese, onion and arugula sarnie for himself, no doubt hoping she'd pick up the skills to do it herself next time.  Despite him gamely keeping up a rather amusing commentary, mumbling on about the 'Earl of Sandwich' and other such nonsense, Nyoman remained unimpressed.  When the demonstration finished, she promptly turned her back to him and went back to making her salad.  I can almost guarantee that we shan't be seeing any sandwich making action pouring forth from our most reluctant of cooks.  Her only words were, 'Alan no eat sandwich'.  Okay then, that's us told.

So to those of you who might envy my life of pseudo luxury...believe me it's not all it's cut out to be.  Sure I get my  laundry done, but at the cost of losing treasured clothes each week and having other items replaced with inferior ones from anonymous strangers also unfortunate enough to be at the mercy of the same incompetent laundry service.  

And yes, I have a full-time pembantu to care for the children.  But the children want to hang with me, and more often than not Kadek can be found idly playing with her mobile phone down in the garden while the monsters run circles around me here upstairs, fighting over the remote control and clamouring to watch more Cartoon Network.

And I have a cleaner who cleans at a snails pace and not terribly thoroughly, so that her presence is required for eight painstaking hours each day, rendering privacy an impossible luxury.  As for the cooking part, thus far she has only proved herself capable (or should I say willing?) of preparing salads...and at my current ingestion rate of one huge salad a day I reckon I'm going to hit my threshold rather soon.

Be careful what you wish for they say. Well once upon a time I wished for help.  I fantasised about not having to lift a finger to clean, cook or do childcare.  Lo and behold I got what I wished for and now I wish I could be more of a commanding presence.  Someone who inspires hard work and respect in their employees.  Someone like 'Sir Alan' on The Apprentice who has the courage to say, "It is with deep regret that I must inform you...YOU ARE FIRED."

Yeah right.  I'll just go slink off and eat my salad.

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