Sunday, 19 October 2014


So, when we got home ten days ago, the house and gardens were immaculate – we knew that Joe, who lives with us, had kept the house beautifully, and Rob, our lovely gardener, had done a great job during the winter, while we were away to aid the selling process. Joe is a very interesting man – a PhD student, 44 years old and a traditional Samoan tattooist (uses a light wooden hammer and fine toothed bone chisel to create the patterns of the pe’a from above the waist to below the knees). When we arrived back, Joe was away tattooing in Australia – there is a significant Samoan population there.

As I said, the house was immaculate. There was, however, a note sellotaped to the oven, welcoming us home and stating that he’d had a meltdown in the oven, but don’t worry as it was fixable and he’d arranged for an appliance repair firm to come but in the meantime don’t use the top oven and here’s $50 for pizza or fish and chips.

Said oven was looking a bit sad – it was clean inside, but the door was a bit wonky and, when opened, the door went further down than the normal 90 degrees (it looked like the boat’s oven door that David had stood on, but this was too high for Joe to have done that …), it didn’t close properly and its stainless steel face was dented. More mysterious though was the jazz hands pattern behind the glass of the control panel – it looked like something had been sprayed up into there.

Naturally enough, David and I, Gary who had delivered us home from the airport, and the two repairmen who came to assess the damage a couple of days later, Rob the gardener who had been through and opened up the house to air it the day before we got home, had all constructed stories about what must have happened and what Joe must have done. Have you noticed how good we all are at making up stories? As they say in Landmark Education what you think happened is only a likely story. Read on ...

The week went by, I used the bottom oven for cooking, the repairmen phoned with the price of parts and repairs ($760-ish) and came back with said parts on Thursday and fitted them – two new side frames that the doors’ hinges slot into (the originals had been bent) and a new door for the top oven. All good.

So, Joe arrived home from Melbourne last Friday evening, and naturally enough after hugs, hellos and catching up on how we all are (it’s 5 months since we’ve seen Joe apart from David’s visit home back in July), the question is asked ‘So wtf happened to the stove?’

As Joe tells it, the night before he was due to head to Australia, he was feeling a bit hungry and thought he would make himself a corned beef sandwich. (Aside: Pacific Islanders, like the English, eat canned corned beef – understandable in the Pacific Islands as there’s not a lot of room to grow cattle, not so understandable in England. And ‘fresh’ corned beef – a silverside joint corned, then simmered with an onion, golden syrup and vinegar for a couple of hours is yummy. Why Joe thought it was acceptable to bring canned corned beef into my house is a question I haven’t yet asked …) Anyway, back to the hunger pangs. As you know, canned corned beef is very fatty. So, probably in a bid to be a bit more healthy, Joe decided to warm the beef for about ten minutes so he could pour off the fat. Into the oven the can goes at 70 degrees. Joe goes back into the family room to watch a recorded episode of The Good Wife (45 minutes), decides he wants to see what happens next so watches the next 2 recorded episodes (1.5 hours), decides he’s tired so heads for bed. Off to sleep, but is woken about an hour and a half later by an enormous bang. And then another. It sounds like someone is breaking into the house through the back door. He leaps out of bed in his elavalava (like a sarong but tied around the waist), grabs the nearest thing to hand in his room – a bottle of Deep Heat, races to the kitchen with said bottle thinking ‘What am I going to do with this? Rub them to death?’ Throws open the kitchen door, switches on the light, expecting to be confronted by big butch burglars. Does a double take:

The kitchen is covered, literally covered - walls, floor, ceiling, bench, cupboard doors, ornaments – in liquefied/atomised corned beef. The oven door is wide open – wider than designed – the can is innocently sitting in the oven still, with its lid popped.

OK, turn off oven, close the kitchen door, go back to bed.

The clean up took several hours the next day, and the only evidence remaining was the fubarred oven door and the jazz hands in the control panel …

So you have been warned – canned corned beef is dangerous.

Joe holding a pre-loaded corned beef bomb - all that is required is to apply heat for 4.5 hours or so ...


Jennifer said...

Good luck with your garage sale. We got back to Tassie a few days ago and yesterday were evacuated because of a nearby ( a few houses away) bushfire. All is well now, back in house and electricity back on, but water helicopter still overhead. What do you take with you when you have 5 mins. Peter took computer and his cameras. I took medicines, banking stuff, insurance policy, photos, my favourite book and of course passports and the boat keys. Makes you think. Enjoy guys. Jennifer and Peter nb. Mactra's Filia

Jaqueline Biggs said...

The tail of the epic corned beef!! LOL--thanks making me grin and forget for five minutes. Relieved no live animals or people were hurt in the unfolding drama and things were remedied in a timely manner.
Love you both gobs and bunches,

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Jennifer and Peter, Scary stuff having bushfires so close - I hope that isn't a foretaste of the summer! Thankfully the two of you have an abundance of complementarity in what you choose to take from the house.
The garage sale went well - almost $1000 - but still lots of stuff left that has been grouped for different charities.
When are you heading back to the UK next year?

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Jaq and Les, Glad it made you smile, sweethearts. We did think that if Joe had been in the kitchen it would have been like a Roadrunner cartoon with a Joe-shaped outline on the walls where the corned beef got him instead ... The kitchen is VERY clean, so no need to clean the top of the cupboards when we move out!
Thinking of you lots, hugs and smooches, M&D xoxo

Jennifer said...

we head back end of April and I am already counting the days. Jennifer

Marilyn McDonald said...

Mid May for us ... Lots happening here (see newer posts) so too busy to be counting days that far out yet! Mx