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 ...|