When I was seventeen and taking A Levels there came a day when my best friend and I both had exam clashes, which meant that we had to sit one three hour exam in the morning, spend an hour looked in solitary confinement (in separate rooms) over lunch and then take another three hour exam in the afternoon. We christened that day Black Tuesday. I remember sitting in the middle of the corridor floor (we were seventeen) at around four o’clock looking at each other and going “we’ll tell our grandchildren about this…”. (Back then I wasn’t even planning on having children so hard to tell how the grandchildren fitted into the picture.)
With a twenty four year gap, it’s quite hard to judge whether today has rivalled the original Black Tuesday, but I’m sure it has come pretty close. A poor combination of sick youngest child indiscriminately showering the house with vomit at random intervals, at the same time as we were without water all day due to a couple of goons knocking random holes (probably less random than the vomit, but still seemed fairly random to the untrained eye) in our bathroom wall with a view to replacing some leaky pipes. Made all the more interesting by the fact that head goon (the brains of the operation) disappeared for most of the day on another job, leaving us with his mate, who spent five minutes in every fifteen outside with a cigarette, and came back after a long lunch break not quite able to walk in a straight line. Neither was this happy little scenario remotely improved by our landlord who arrived in the middle of the afternoon like the proverbial seagull, shouting obscenities at everyone in sight and left again in a huff.
Attempting to maintain something like hygienic order gave me something like the briefest idea of just how easily really bad diseases like cholera must spread when conditions are like ours only with lots and lots of people and going on for weeks and months rather than just one very bad day. By seven o’clock the goons were still at work, I was wondering when/whether/how I was going to bath the kids, let alone reclaim my house, and a couple of other juveniles from the neighbourhood were bashing on the window wanting to come in and play. My first thought was that there was already more than enough going on to cope with, and my second was heck they might as well, it can’t get any worse. So in they came. Luckily they got called home within a few minutes, and even better, the goons left shortly after, leaving us with water to some of the house. So I crunched the kids up into their old baby baths on the floor of the wash area, and Martin washed the dishes and put the clothes into the machine. And whatever happens tomorrow, it’s not Tuesday any more.