A recent study estimated that it costs around £150,000 to raise a child to age 17; the equivalent of buying a Ferrari apparently. Not that I would know anything about the cost of any kind of luxury car as I doubt whether I will ever rise above my little Honda Civic despite having long coveted a Jaguar XK. Recent events in our household however, point to Miss S being determined to cost her long-suffering parents at least two of the luxury sports cars and it all started with a glass of fresh orange juice and a red felt-tipped pen; Exhibits A and B, Your Honour.
Let us first hear the story behind Exhibit A: a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice. I am happy to reveal that I am a veritable mine of information when it comes to orange juice. For example, I know that it is high in vitamin C and therefore generally good for what ails you. Similarly, it’s high in antioxidants, which neutralise the effects of free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules in your body believed to cause ageing and some diseases). Furthermore, after chocolate and vanilla, orange is the world’s favourite flavor while Christopher Columbus brought the first orange seeds and seedlings to the New World on his second voyage in 1493. And so on and so forth.
What I did not know is that, if spilt on a taupe, pure wool carpet, orange juice is indelible. Permanent. Enduring. Everlasting. Call it what you will, fresh orange juice cannot be removed from a pure wool carpet. Ever!
And believe me, I have tried everything.
Picture the scene: Miss S knocks over her glass of fresh orange and we have a rapidly spreading stain on the taupe carpet in the master bedroom. I leap into action, grabbing the towel Mr. S always leaves hanging over the bedroom door (you’d think that almost twenty years of marriage would have cured him of that particular bachelor habit but apparently he is living proof that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks) and mop up the juice that hasn’t yet soaked into the carpet, before rushing downstairs to get the Vanish stain remover. Many squirts of Vanish and a few minutes of hard scrubbing later and the stain is no more. Hugh sigh of relief and Miss S gets (another) lecture on drinking and eating only in the kitchen and dining room. But my satisfaction was short-lived as, when I returned to the bedroom later that day, I experienced a nasty episode of déjà vu as the stain was back. How it happened, I don’t know, but apparently the effects of Vanish on spilled orange juice are not permanent. The stain remained.
Some minor panicking and a quick trip to the local hardware store produced two more generic stain removers, neither of which had any effect on the large, rust-coloured, Panagaea-shaped mark. The stain remained.
In a last ditch attempt I went online to Lakeland and bought a couple of their ‘miracle’ stain removal treatments – ‘removes any stain or your money back’ – according to the products’ blurbs. Five days later the money was returned to my bank account and Lakeland was considering changing the wording of the blurbs to ‘removes any stain except orange juice’ because – you guessed it – the stain remained.
I then bought a carpet cleaner – ‘Looks like we’ll be getting a lot of use out of it,’ sighed Mr. S when I questioned whether it was really necessary to spend that kind of money. The carpet cleaner was successful in its own way – the area around the stain came up a beautiful clean taupe but, of course, the stain itself remained. As we had now tried everything possible I felt justified in trying one last thing – bleach. Ever cautious, I started off with a solution of dilute bleach but then simply up-ended a whole bottle of neat bleach onto that mocking mark and scrubbed like mad. But – as always – the stain remained (is it just me or is this starting to sound like a Dr Seuss book?).
As all attempts to remove the stain had failed the only remaining solution was to have a new carpet installed so the next Saturday I popped into the carpet store in the neighbouring village and chose a replacement carpet. Measurements were taken and the order placed, only to find that the carpet I had chosen was no longer in production. Neither was the next one I chose. With gritted teeth I returned to the carpet store a third time. Within seconds of walking through the door, Miss S had pointed out the perfect sample which looked exactly like the first one I chose but was twice the price. Not a problem as by then I was willing to pay four times the price if it meant having a stain-free carpet in my bedroom. And so the new carpet was finally installed.
The only good thing to come out of this (besides a new carpet in the bedroom) is that I can now confirm that Miss S has inherited more from me than just my brown eyes; she has also inherited my expensive tastes and ability to choose the most highly-priced item in a store within seconds of stepping inside it. ‘God help her future husband’ muttered Mr. S with what appeared to be fellow-feeling for this futuristic unfortunate.
Unfortunately Miss S did not stop there. The next incident involved a red felt-tipped pen (Exhibit B) going through the washing machine together with white bed-linen. The result? Sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers for the master bed having to be replaced as apparently, bed linen which has been tie-dyed an attractive pink does not guarantee Mr. S a peaceful night’s sleep. Suffice to say that the sum of those two incidents made a sizeable dent in the second luxury car and any chances I might have had of being able to afford a Jaguar were successfully destroyed.