Boys and Men: Wk 17 – Day One

There was a different dynamic about the place this morning with the absence of our contented lodger and his regularly inflicted musical preferences. Instead we were host only to the quiet P, happily keeping himself to himself upstairs. Not, actually, that dynamic is a word that particularly comes to mind as I think of either…C and P both sharing similar ‘come what may’ attitudes.

“Is K coming today?” P had asked following the ritualistic handover of chocolate for O….today’s gift being a family pack of giant white buttons to last, he instructed hopefully, the week. Considering K employs P I wondered for a moment at the question.
“He said to me that he was working elsewhere today and would come tomorrow” I replied.
“Typical” P tutted “he was meant to be getting this shower tray in so I can build the wall around it.” With a blasé shrug of his shoulders he ascended the stairs. “I can get on with a few bits though”

Meanwhile C seems also to be happy to drift along without direction. Over the weekend I had found myself worrying maternally about his unwillingness, despite our encouragement, to look beyond this job to the rest of his working year.
“We need to decide how many more weeks we have left for C so we can let him know in good time” I’d said to S over breakfast.
“Weeks?” S had spluttered into his coffee, “we can’t afford him for weeks!”
“We just have to be clear how much work he has here” I insisted. “and I don’t think he is. Or rather he doesn’t want to be…..”

At the moment he sees, as I do, a project which has weeks left to run. Without the budget to continue with the luxury of an on-call handyman complete with his own room, mug, kettle and radio the rest, in truth, will be reliant on S and I getting our sleeves rolled up. However with offers of work coming in, three of which are from friends of ours, there is no need for the transition not to be a smooth one…..as long as C organises himself in good time. Organisation, judging by the state of the snug, is not his strongest point. Therefore, despite comments from S insisting that a grown man has to be responsible for his own life, I structured an email with a list of what we’d like to complete in the one remaining week we can afford with the suggestion that we get him back to finish the hallway floor (once the amperage situation is clearer) at a time which fits in with his other work commitments……with hinting reminders of what those could be. Perhaps not what he wants to think about whilst holidaying but then again, surrounded by hairdryer looking piglets wearing shoes, he may be thankful for the distraction.

As I anticipated another day of the slow but thorough P making little impact in the bathroom, a loud knock at the door signalled the unexpected arrival of K and his right-hand man G. Supplies were ferried up the stairs followed shortly after by the sound of a drill….O slumbering throughout….whilst I took advantage of the free hour to get yet another coat of primer on the coving….the nicotine staining showing through last weeks alleged ‘belt and brace’ application.

I was interrupted briefly by a beckoning upstairs for a bit of decision making…the positioning of the bathroom cabinets and the siting of the shower alcove shelf – guided by a meticulous P.
“The measurement from shelf to cabinet, if you went with a foot, would be the same as the depth of this shower shelf” he encouraged.
I nodded my agreement aware that this was a level of detail, the two not being in sight of each other, that even I wouldn’t ordinarily strive for. With nods of satisfaction from P, I retraced my steps downstairs to apply a first coat of contrasting yellow on the frames destined for O’s blue bedroom wall.

On waking from his nap, his first word being P’s name followed by ‘tat tat tat’ echoing the knocking he could hear next door, O and I watched from the window as our laden skip was removed by a grumpy man with an impressive lorry. With lightening speed uncharacteristic for a man of such bulky frame, he flicked and fastened catches and chains before pressing a lever, effortlessly lifting the skip clean off the tarmac and onto his truck. Gaze flicking upwards, he appeared to take great pleasure in ignoring the wide-eyed little boy, face pressed to the window tapping for his attention and jumped back in his lorry to depart for landfill with our loaded receptacle. As I watched the skip go I wondered if its rapid departure was a symbol that the worst of the work was over. Surveying what’s left to do feels exhausting but in reality, bathroom aside, its simply a lot of painting. “We’ve just got to crack on” I rallied to myself and mentally calculated how much I might be able to achieve this week ….before O and I departed for a swim.

This evening on S’s return from work I attempted to put my plan into action.

“If you can do the baby’s bedtime I’ll whizz a final coat around the coving so that tomorrow I can do both the ceiling and the walls …as that way I’ll have dry edges to cut in to” I said.
S looked up.
“I don’t know that it needs another coat” he said, “does it?”
“It still needs the last topcoat” I said adamantly “but I think the primer has covered the yellowing now….. and even if it hasn’t …the reflection of the green walls on it will probably trick the eye.”
S looked at me uneasily.
“Will it all be green?” he asked tentatively.
“Oh darling…” I said exasperated. “I’ve shown you the colour a million times, I’ve asked you if you like it and you said yes. Yes it will all be green. This wall is light green, that wall olive, this wall papered which I showed you and you said you liked…..and it will all look beautiful”
“Oh” he replied quietly, “good” before adding “It’s not that I don’t listen…it’s just that it goes through so many incarnations I forget which one has been decided…” He paused.
“Why are those frames yellow again?”

Readers, please tell him.

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