After two days back in the real world of meetings, courses and exhibition openings, it was strangely calming to be back atop my ladder, having a third go at transforming the lounge into the cosy oasis I hope it will become. Before I could do so, however, I had a busy morning with a full house by breakfast time.
P arrived first and took up his usual position, nursing a coffee and chatting away to the yoghurt faced O…with K and G arriving shortly after.
“The fellas will plaster this weekend” explained K, cluttering the hallway with packaging as he pulled the heated towel ladder free. “Which is why we are here this morning to do a few bits. Now….” he propped the radiator against the lounge door. “with this, do you want the valves sticking out like this?” Bending down he positioned the valves at the front of the radiator pointing forwards, “or this?” he said swapping them to the side and looking expectantly back up at me.
I stood considering, O hooked onto my hip.
“This way you may risk knocking them as you come out of the shower….” he continued.
I nodded thoughtfully.
“Anyway have a think” he said straightening up “but I need to know fairly soon.”
“How soon?” I asked, as I mentally deferred the decision and made my way instead to O’s bedroom to get him out of his breakfast splattered pyjamas.
“Within the next ten minutes” he called back up “or so.”
We detoured to the bathroom.
A decision was easy to arrive at once I could see rather than imagine the space and once sorted O and I picked our way back out of the cramped space as G and P readily squeezed in to our vacated place.
“How long will you be here?” I called back to K over my shoulder “will you be here when I get back?”
“No, no….we’ll be gone shortly”
“In that case,” I asked “could you take a look under the sink? Something is leaking….I think its the dishwasher”
K straightened to his full, pint sized height.
“I noticed the tap went on yesterday” he said accusingly “who did that?”
The issue of who does what plumbing has recently become a bone of contention now that C has ‘come out’ as a plumber and is enthusiastically ready to demonstrate his skills at every given opportunity.
“He told me he was a tiler, builder, carpenter and a plumber….” P had said to me one morning as I’d nodded, all to familiar with that very same conversation.
K, however, as our long-time go-to for all things water and gas is showing signs of feeling uncomfortable about this new kid on the block. The tap, having been removed by K last Thursday in preparation for the worktop fit, had been laying patiently on its side waiting to be refitted on his fleeting visit on Tuesday morning. However, as a bit of wooden support beneath needed to be moved, the worktop fitters having drilled their hole in a slightly different place to its previous position, he had taken one look and left. By Wednesday morning, with it still laying redundant whilst we washed up using a combination of dishwasher and the garden hose, I decided I wouldn’t continue to put up with the inconvenience for the sake of a few egos and I’d given C the go ahead. To complicate this riveting plumbing tale, the dishwasher connector was added to C’s elaborate undersink trap by K in C’s absence much to C’s displeasure as its now tampering with his carefully connected waste……
Arriving home later for the second time, the first being for only the few seconds it took to realise that I had forgotten the adhesive P had asked me for and the sillicone C needed, I flicked the kettle on for a much needed dose of caffeine.
“Did K take a look at that leak?” I asked C, “were you here?”
“He was leaving as I arrived.” C replied “but he must have done as when I got here everything from the cupboard was out on the side.”
“I knew it wasn’t me” C said defensively, “when I put the tap back on I checked and checked again. I even left a piece of tissue underneath to check for drips. Dry.”
I nodded reassuringly.
“He usually says hello but today he didn’t so I knew he was annoyed.” C said looking injured “but the thing is I believe when you make a mistake you should just say it…like I did when I drilled through the wrong side of the drawer. You just say ‘I did this’ and then you fix it”
I handed him a coffee. I needed one and it sounded like the affronted C could do with one too and with a few reassuring words from me he headed out to the patio, cigarette in hand, while I gathered together my painting gear.
Flitting back into the kitchen on the hunt for a screwdriver with which to open my paint tin, he called out to me from the garden.
“Did you put sugar in this?” He lifted his cup into the air.
“Yes. One” I called back busily.
“Ah.” he sauntered back inside, closing the door behind him and replacing the full mug on the side. “I don’t take sugar”
I stopped what I was doing as my hand rose to my forehead with a smack.
“But C.” I said eventually as I refilled the kettle “you’ve been gone a week. You won’t find any loyalty round here.”
With coffees poured away….instead of giving C none and P one I’d given C one and P two….and fresh ones made I retreated, sheepishly, to the lounge.
My cutting in suffered slightly from an unsteady arm caused by my chortling along to a new series of Down the Line but a couple of hours later it was done and I was busily rollering between the lines when C entered.
“Did you phone me?” he asked, having picked up his phone to find two missed calls.
“From Topps Tiles…” I said, “not from in here”
“I had a question about the silicone.” I said “but I went for transparent”
I turned back to my painting, sensing his unmoving solid presence behind me. I looked back round.
“I thought you were doing this white” he said
“Well” I said taking a deep breath, “its had a few incarnations in your absence. A white mist coat, then a period light green, then white again when I found it didn’t match this colour on the chimney breast and now I’ve decided to do the whole room with this.”
“Oh” he grimaced, unconvinced. I turned back to my painting.
“Fix your face…..” I warned “and put a little trust in me. There’s curtains and pictures and cushions and furniture to go in yet.”
“Oh. Ok.” He nodded, “it’s not very me though. It’s like yesterday, S asked me if I liked the worktops and I didn’t know what to say. I mean, I don’t like white worktops.”
“Thats fair enough” I said
“And it seems you’ve gone for a cottagey look with the wooden units and the green and I thought it looked odd”
Monmouth coffee….Monmouth Coffee…. I corrected in my head, lips pursed.
“Me…I’m into black. If that was a black worktop with those mirror sparkles in it…..now that would be right up my street” and with that he left, curtailing for now any further critical appraisal of our decorating palette.
I swallowed my pride. Following this mornings insulting CoffeeGate I’m only getting my just desserts.