The team with the gizmo turned up this morning.
The farmhouse kitchen was under its usual inch of water due to the torrential rain and I tried to sweep the water outside but it is like picking up mercury.
There was the man with the machine, the woman I had spoken to on the phone and another man who had no discernible role other than he had a nice tie.
This is one of the walls and the cream paint is from Homebase.
Mr Gizmo applied the probe to the cream paint.
"That is from Homebase" I said.
He ignored me.
After a short while the gizmo flashed and beeped. "It's fine" he said.
"Yes, that is the Homebase paint, could you test the green paint please?"
He sighed a little and poked the gizmo into the green paint - more flashing and a beep.
"Oh" he said.
"Is it arsenic?" I asked him (through slightly gritted teeth)
"No, it is reading a high on lead and chromium"
Apparently, this was seen as a safer alternative to the 'Paris green'. It was mixed with copper, lead and iron.
"Is that ok then?" I asked with a feeling it was not ok. Chromium used to be used when dying wool and it was not ok at all.
"Oh yes, just don't breathe the dust'
I looked at the floor swimming in water and the missing ceiling then said that our house may have faults but dust was not one of them. The water streaming down the wall saw off the dust.
"So what do I do now?". God, it was like getting blood from a stone.
"Dry the wall out, don't breathe in the dust (smirk) and repaint."
I was too gobsmacked to ask him if he would allow his children to live there and touch the lead/cadmium paint.
"May I offer you tea and nice scones, almond and cherry?" (faint taste of Bitter almond, sir)
They all looked quickly at each other.
"No thank you".
I felt a bit hurt. I felt a bit murderous, actually.
They left and I looked at the wet wall with the iffy paint. It was everywhere.
Later, despite my lurking all afternoon with said scones, the plumber never turned up.
I stomped off in a huff for a quiet puff, well away from dodgy paint and the evil plumber. The children had found a large pile of mud and were sliding down it. Happily.
As I puffed and muttered to myself, I felt as if I was being watched.
We looked at one another for ages and she exuded a tranquility which was missing from life at that moment.
Poison walls and leaky roof was forgotten. Even my cigarette was ignored.
She eventually decided that a tempting patch of grass was infinitely more interesting than the angst ridden woman sitting in a huff.
She gracefully moved on without a backward glance.
I have taken this as a Sign.