Preparation began this morning for C’s welcome return. Thankful as I was last week to have access to the snug should I want it…tonight both entrances were blocked by C’s untidiness….. I missed the progress. We once used to think C worked at the pace of a snail. With P on site we’ve renamed C’s snail Gonzalez….
C’s first job, now the worktops are in, was to tile the kitchen splashback. Following, or as part of, that job the shelf will go up which is almost the last piece of the kitchen jigsaw ….bar a few door handles which are late arriving. The rest we can do ourselves. Skirting needs to be painted, utility doors need a bit more attention plus the magnetic experiment needs to be conducted…the doors seeming to take every opportunity to shrug O’s masking-tape-affixed masterpieces off as if they are in someway damaging their street cred. Spice racks need to go on (larder door has to be strengthened with some boarding first apparently so might ask C to turn his attention to that), sofa wall painted then its the fun bits….putting up pictures, putting up the factory pendants, arranging the shelves, awaiting the arrival of our new dining table, moving the sofa down from upstairs, playing about with side tables and lamps and plants……..
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Knowing I wouldn’t see C when he arrived I gathered together the boxes of green metro tiles and making a little tile-box stack, added to it a tub of adhesive. I held on the grout. A bag of white had been bought but remained in the boot of the car in preparation of a switch following advice from P that we should opt for a light grey instead to avoid discolouration. Over the weekend I had asked S’s opinion.
“I have never spared a thought for grout in my entire life” was S’s dismissive reply.
The quandary remains my own….parked until tomorrow.
Scribbling a note regarding important matters such as which walls were to be tiled, where the remainder of our nephews birthday cake could be found and the strictest instructions not to leave tools on the worktop….visions of returning home to a gauge where the drill had toppled over playing havoc in my head, I left it beside the kettle and prepared to depart. Just as I was leaving, P arrived bearing a bag of spacers he had kindly offered to pick up for me. Thankful for the saved mad dash to Topps Tiles I popped them on C’s pile which by this time was mounting.
“I think you can take that tub of adhesive back” P said as O waved his favourite book at him with the plea of “Goose!” Obligingly P held out his hand to take the book as O ran off with a giggle.
“What am I meant to do with this boy, read it on my own?” P called out after him before turning back to me.
“I’ve got a fair bit left upstairs. And I’ll teach C how to use my special trick with the spacers. I put them in sticking out…because I’m tight. It means I can save them. They don’t get grouted in”
With the site left in educational hands I gathered together O, his book and his bag and we left for our respective busy days….O’s playing with sand in the nursery garden and me nervously heading, for the first time since November, back into the ‘real’ world of work ……..wearing non-toothpasted clothing.
An hour later as I sat with a coffee at Liverpool Street station, I got a call.
“Hi ya” said C
“How was your holiday?” I asked
“Er..good…more restful than we had planned. There weren’t many people around so we spent most of our evenings in the caravan.”
“Lovely weather though” I said ” you were lucky”
“Yes.” C agreed before adding “I’m brown”
“Lucky for you. Some of us had to repaint our lounge. Twice.”
Steering the conversation back to the reason for his call I realised fairly soon that something was amiss.
“You haven’t read my note have you?”
I went on to verbalise my scribble, explaining again which walls needed tiling and to what height.
“I did find your note” C admitted reluctantly afterwards. “I read half of it then I stopped. It’s like all these things….” and he tailed off.
“Well I hope you didn’t miss the important bit. Cake is wrapped in tinfoil on the side” and with a goodbye I hung up in wonder.
Returning home this evening to a house containing the tanned and proudly vested C, I settled O on the sofa with a book before I began the pre-dinner task of figuring out a way to prepare said dinner…..the kitchen area and most plug sockets having now been monopolised by C. As I searched for the microwave C hovered eagerly nearby, a map in his hand. I looked up.
“This was Peppa Pig World” he said, spreading the map out onto the island “but its only a small part of a much bigger park.”
“I see.” I nodded appreciatively “It’s massive”
“We stayed at Peppa Pig World on the first day but we ventured out on the next. Because we have the baby my wife and I took turns to go on the rides.” he paused before correcting himself “I went first. Anyway, they weren’t scary”
Conducting a scary operation of my own, (O safely strapped in his highchair), with a microwave humming on the floor, kettle boiling atop and oven/ring thingy sitting precariously on the edge of the island….it’s lead barely reaching the side socket….I reminded myself that in a few years from now I too will be regaling someone with tales of Peppa Pig.
Later that night S and I considered the tiles.
“How do you feel about the colour?” he asked
“I like it” I said “But I had to do a double take to check….I must admit there was a strong urge to stay pale but that wouldn’t have given us the look we were after.”
S looked up.
“You know, Monmouth Coffee…” I reminded
“I know. But that’s where you start….” S said insightfully, “not necessarily where you end up”
“I think the colour is good though and it will pick up on the wall, the blackboard, the lamps..”
“Uh huh. Good call pet” he congratulated.
“Oh no.” I shook my head “you take the credit for this one. I wouldn’t have been this bold.”
“Well” said S as he sat down beside me, “just you remember that all the best ideas so far were mine. Floor. Worktop. Tiles. Units”
“I don’t think you can take credit for the units!” I spluttered
“So …maybe not.” He shrugged as he picked up the remote. “I’ll let you have that one”
Er….and the grout.