On days like these, I'm reminded of the ranch. We have a dead something festering in the walls or under the floorboards somewhere; all we know is that the smell is strongest at the spot just before you enter the kitchen. The Man comes home from football wanting to take a shower; but a pipe has burst, or broken, or done whatever it is pipes do, so that the kitchen is flooded with a sudden stream of water before we turn the main off. By sticking our heads in the cupboard under the sink (him in football kit, me in an oversized and ripped man's shirt and a pair of silk pajama shorts because I thought, silly me, I might have an early night) we ascertain which particular bit of pipe is the problem ("You see the silvery one?" he says. "No, not that silvery one, that silvery one."). But what good is knowing this? I have the imprint of a wet review section of the Guardian from six months ago on my feet and the Man can feel some "fraying," but neither of us is taking a bath tonight, I can guarantee that. As we carpet the kitchen in newspaper we talk about the smell, which the Man is convinced is like galvanized rubber. "It's dead rodent," I assure him. "I got very used to that smell in my childhood." Which makes my childhood sound horrific; it wasn't, quite the opposite, just infused, every so often, with eau de decomposing rat. Or eau de galvanized rubber, if you prefer.