Arriving promptly at 8am in order ‘to miss the school kids on the bus’, P the tiler found a tired and still pyjamaed duo….O having unusually woken at 3.30am and resisted both S and my attempts to settle him in his cot again. Unable to hear him cry I’d ‘slept’ with him on the sofa (meaning he did and I didnt) with delicious cuddles I told myself at the time I won’t have forever so if I’m not doing the whole ‘controlled crying’ thing then bugger it. The next morning, however….rare as these occasions are….we both pay as, tired and cranky, we transpose our moods on the other. Working out who is the grumpy one is a bit like musing over the chicken or the egg and similarly useful. So my day began squiffily…in keeping with the general offbeat theme of the week.
After a trip to the park where O’s scooting skills were refined with some female stalking thrown in – stopping still at the sight of a little girl before scooting madly after her – a trip to Ikea beckoned. Our bathroom design has within it a row of four mirrored cabinets – a look I’ve stolen from my last flat where Ikea came up trumps with the cheapest versions. I planned to simply hook four off the shelf and be gone. However….I’m obsessing yet again with a tiny detail….you’ll walk into the bathroom and see the end panel…so I wanted to check out some versions wrapped in a wooden ‘cuff’ which I’d seen on their website. Unsurprising considering this weeks karma they are available only in Wembley and soon to be discontinued. With O frustrated at being cooped up in his pushchair when he could be scooter flirting I turned to leave empty handed….until I caught sight of a doormat and I covered my face with my hands.
Let me explain….
The hall tiles arrived a few days ago and as we were unloading them from the pallet dumped unceremoniously outside the front door, C had echoed my thoughts.
“Is this all there is?”
“The man in the shop calculated the number of tiles based on the plans so it must be” I had said doubtfully.
Seeing the doormat reminded me….we had planned to embed 80cm or so of door matting into the floor and the tile calculations had allowed for this. By now C would have plyed the floor with his closely knit grid of screws. He may have started cutting tiles. I put my foot on the pedal and rushed home.
Once back I breathlessly explained our original idea, using the £7 doormat I’d purchased in haste to demonstrate. A perplexed C remained calmly unconcerned.
“Whats the problem?” he asked “you could still do it if you wanted, I could tile around this mat. Or you could mat a full section and I could start the tiles further in…” He proceeded to talk through how he could approach either/or, whilst I quietly calculated that the cost of another box of tiles to do things the simpler, more conventional way and simply throw the mat on top of a tiled floor would probably be cheaper and less work considering the trouble he would undoubtably go to. Nothing in this house is ever simple and the combination of C’s eye for perfection and my meddling exacerbates it.
While O and I made a cake in our newly connected oven, C laid out the tiles so I could get a feel for the pattern. Tweaking the design together to accommodate our surface flung mat and the complexities of a Victorian house with no truly straight lines, moods lifted. Thrilled with the promise of how they would look I hummed along happily to Absolute Eighties. C whistled while he worked. O, also murmuring happily, licked the spoon.
Meanwhile, upstairs P and K had been boarding out the bathroom and, I discovered later, pulling C’s leg.
“I asked K” C began “how to refire the boiler. I imagined you’d like it if, to get round the radiator pipes, I cut a hole in the tile and slipped it over the pipe rather than cut smithereens to go round it. So I’d need the radiator off and to drain down the boiler, both of which I can do but I’m just not sure how to refire yours as its a modern one.”
“Oh that’s a good idea” I said, imagining the elegant tile/pipe solution. “Did he tell you how?”
“No” said C “he said that would be sharing too much knowledge..he needed to keep some things to himself.”
With K leaving early, turning down a slice of cake as he had been called to save a damsel in boiler distress (or may have seen evidence of O’s spoon licking) C divulged more of the days banter.
“He asked me if I’d ever tiled before” said C making short work of the slice of cake he certainly didn’t refuse. “When I said I’d been tiling for years he said he thought I’d started today.”
“Said I’d improve with practice.” he added before chuckling. “Wind up.”
With the two in the house for the next few weeks, he had better get some retaliations ready. Place your bets….