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ON THE OTHER HAND – I’ve been re-arranged


Peter Laurie

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I’m not the man I used to be.I don’t know any other way of putting it than to tell you I’ve been re-arranged. It’s my wife. She just retired. The first few weeks were wonderful. Having her around all day was a joy. She was totally de-stressed. Cooling out. Chilling. Relaxing. Just my speed.Then somehow her feminine instincts to clean, organise and re-arrange got the better of her. I’m sorry, men. We can’t fight it. It’s in their DNA. They’re hardwired to clean. What made it worse,  she’s a devotee of feng shui (pronounced fung shway for those who like to know how to pronounce things properly; in fact the only time I pronounce it properly is when I’ve had a couple of drinks; so it’s a perfect answer to any stupid rum shop question, like: don’t you just love the vuvuzela? Fung shway! What do you think of West Indies cricket? Fung shway! Don’t you think it’s time to go home? Fung shway!)
Feng shuiNow feng shui is the art of designing a building and arranging its contents so as to promote a good flow of energy, known as chi. Good chi is sheng chi and bad chi is sha chi. Sound confusing? It is. Frankly, it’s Chinese obeah: the equivalent of architectural acupuncture. We have a small basket of coins atop the toilet cistern to ensure I don’t flush all our luck away. Anyway, you’re supposed to arrange the furniture in your home so as allow a smooth flow of chi to all areas of the house and avoid blockages and stagnant areas. Turns out my favourite armchair for watching TV was in a profoundly stagnant area. Worse still, the remote was a particularly nasty blockage. It had to be moved next to her. Only she could ensure a good flow of chi from the TV, and thus improve my life expectancy. She’s so thoughtful.Then the re-arranging began in serious. Chairs were given away; our bed was repositioned (I have to admit the flow of chi there had somewhat diminished); and our veranda acquired some rattan furniture she bought second-hand. She’s an expert on second-hand stuff. In our early days she never missed an auction or passed a garage sale. In fact she picked me up in a garage sale for a knockdown price.Admittedly she tried to return me afterwards and get her money back, but she eventually got used to the idea of having me around.
Bad chiThen she told me we had to cover the bathroom mirror, otherwise there would be bad chi. “Hold on,” I said, “the whole point of a mirror is to see yourself in it. So if you cover it . . . . Duh????”  “Well, I’m not permanently covering it; just remove the drape and quickly do whatever you have to do. But don’t stand there preening.”“I’ll have you know I don’t preen. I shave, comb my hair and occasionally check out my abs.” I said, sucking in my stomach.“So that’s what you call it?” And they say women are supposed to be sensitive. That’s a load of sha chi. Fortunately I had our 18-year-old son to protect me. Folks, your children are your best investment. Don’t neglect them. They can end up saving your life. One day as she was hustling furniture out of the door, and had my stagnant body slung over her shoulder, about to dump me into the back of the pickup truck headed for the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul Society, he screamed: “Mum, stop, that’s not the rug you’re taking out, that’s Dad!”   “I knew there was something peculiar about the pattern,” she chupsed, as she eased me down into a bed of just watered ferns. Can someone find her a job? Please?
• Peter Laurie is a retired diplomat and a commentator on social issues.

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