On Sunday morning, at the end of thirteen long weeks, S, O and I breakfasted happily in our new kitchen.
Saturday morning, however, had been very different…
S had ventured downstairs to fetch juice and milk from the fridge and, returning to our temporary kitchen, had set them down angrily on the table.
“Have you seen that ceiling?” he asked.
“Yes….I told you….Ill try one more coat this morning in the daylight” I had replied.
“It’s a f**king mess” he had muttered.
Leaving it, he had come to realise, wasn’t an option. I think I’ve mentioned before that S returns home from work on most nights after sundown and the extent of the patchiness had not looked quite so bad softened, as it had been, by the artificial light. April sunlight…and on Saturday we actually had some…harshly illuminated it at its worst.
Emotionally drained, we discussed what might be the best course of action. The rest of our lives hung precariously in the balance …..it felt (somewhat theatrically with the rationality of hindsight)…. as, with sinking hearts, we contemplated a delay in moving out of the spare bedroom, a space which provokes profound irritation at the slightest bump of a hip against the table or tug of a drawer caught on a cupboard door below. At that very fraught moment in time it didn’t feel as if we’d survive another hour up there…let alone another week. An agreeable solution, however, could not be reached with another coat of the Earthborn deemed by S to be only likely to make it worse.
Our friend arrived to collect O to find a pair of irritated beings at loggerheads.
“You could match the paint with Dulux” she suggested “and repaint just the ceiling” echoing a thought I had been slowly arriving at along the same lines. It would have taken some careful cutting in to ensure the whole room didn’t need to be redone – there being fifty shades of white as well as grey – but it might have been possible. S dismissed the idea. Instead, he decided, he would sand away the texture and, by default, the patches. Fifteen minutes later with O safely on his way to a day trampolining in the sunshine with his friends, S …sporting a Walter White mask and goggles… began the laborious and dusty task of sanding the ceiling. I watched in tense anticipation. Test area completed he pulled up his mask.
“What do you think?” he asked.
The question was loaded. We scrutinised the ceiling, eyes flitting between the test patch and the patchy rest, desperately hoping for an improvement.
“Better?” I agreed tentatively.
“I think so” he agreed, though he had a finishing flourish. Back up the ladder he went with a rag to wipe away the dust and reveal some of the texture again….it had begun to look worryingly shiny from the sanding.
We both nodded emphatically. Yes. Better.
And so, resignedly, he continued steadfastly with the rest.
Meanwhile, dust swirling in the air, I was banished from the room. Painting the cupboards was now not an option so instead I set about completing some work-in-progress… removing the stripper from the hallway plasterwork and scraping away at the softened varnish from the longest length of banister in preparation for a sand at a later date. Then I decided to run an experiment of my own.
I hunted down a piece of MDF offcut, not hard to come by in our house, and began an application of the magnetic paint. I was hopeful. S was not. Four coats later and he was proved right. It could hold, quite happily, a peel-off, thin, magnet ….O has some numbers and penguins in this kind of material. But the little coin shaped magnets I had envisaged dotting up O’s artwork haphazardly on the wall would not hold. Breaking for coffee the Technology Manager offered an inspired alternative. We could, he suggested, impregnate the door from behind with a grid shaped set of holes plugged with magnets, rendering the front strong enough to hold not just artwork but keys. Sample magnets were ordered online and a bewildered C will shortly be briefed with this unconventional addition to his list.
Buoyed by the success of the sanding I began to pack up our temporary kitchen and, adamantly refusing to be excluded from the room…dust or no dust….moved us box by box into our new home. Having hoovered and wiped out the cupboards I began to unpack, excitedly deliberating over my ‘map’ (oh yes) of where to put what for both ease and functionality. S stopped work and wandered over, opening each door and drawer and watching them softly close again.
“I could do this forever” he said, pulling on another and letting it go.
“Get back up your ladder.” I commanded bossily. “We have an hour before I go and get O”
On my return the ceiling was finished…looking agreeably more suede like (er…..the look we have been striving to achieve…….) than patchy, the table and chairs had been moved down, boxes were unpacked, microwave and oven/ring thingy in position (it turns out that we are going to look at our new oven for a while…until the foreman can verify that the feed installed was the correct one. C is doubtful) and the radio on. O acclimatised immediately, charging about excitedly in the new space. The doors were flung open so we could take advantage of the last few rays of sunshine and dinner was made with, finally, direct access to the fridge.
“We can get a cat now” an aching S said later that evening as he took a sip of well deserved beer. I looked up, confused.
“So we can swing it.”