It was a cold, damp and miserable P who arrived at 8am having trudged his way up the hill on a similarly cold, damp and miserable morning. O met him at the door.
“Alright mate?” P said “what do you want to come out here for? It’s wet. Go on in.”
I flicked the kettle on for a warming cup of coffee while O gleefully showed off his scooting skills to his appreciative audience, foot elegantly lifted to knee height on the glide.
“I don’t know what your mum was thinking” P said conspiratorially’ “when she put that washing there, right where you come round the corner.”
O grinned back at him and executed a couple more seamless laps of the island.
“I forgot to look at the hearth for you yesterday. I’ll work out how many tiles you need later” he said, turning to me.
“That would be great, thank you.” I replied. Close to getting finished in the lounge now its the hearth and carpet which have the potential to hold things up. “Ive found them somewhere local and they said it will only take three days or so after ordering to get them in.”
“We’ll sort it” he said reassuringly before heading upstairs to embark on the grouting….a job which signals that we are close to, at last, having an operational shower without the risk of being attacked by garish, mouldy and slippery butterflies.
Later, on my return from nursery drop-off and on receipt of another coffee P, as promised, followed me downstairs to measure up.
“We won’t know until we take the existing hearth away whether you need bullnosed tiles or just square edge ones. It might be that the thickness of the carpet and underlay meet with the edge of the tiles anyway so you don’t need the rounded ones.”
I nodded …..but wished it was simpler. I’d wanted to get them on order today ready for whoever was going to lay them. With C now on other jobs my hopes rested on P…though I had no idea when he might be finished the more pressing job of the bathroom.
“Its taking as long as the extension!” S had cried last night as he inspected progress and saw very little. Indeed, I’ve stopped imagining it ever being completed and have instead grown revulsively resigned to living as it is. As consolation it turns out is that the situation could be worse.
“I’m doing up my flat” P said recently “and I took a month off to do it. I managed two days. I kept getting work so that’s all I could do, but now I’ve got used to it. I don’t want to work when I get home….I sit in my armchair, watch an innings of the Indian cricket, eat my dinner and go to bed. Well, I have a bath but I usually find yesterday’s washing up in there so I have to do that first which is a pain. But I can live like that.”
Its hard to imagine worse bathing conditions than the ones we have, made all the more undesirable by me needing to wash my brushes and rollers out within the disgusting pink bath. I have to admit though, the absence of washing up festering within its depths is, indeed, a point in its favour.
With tile calculations done P returned to his grouting and I cracked on with my jobs….a circle of the lounge with a final coat of white eggshell, a coat of Earthborn on the boiler flue access hatch and a number of coats on the bare pillar (replastering it was the quickest way of dealing with a huge gap between the untrue wall and the squarely cut worktop) in the kitchen.
Then I looked at the sofa wall.
The deal struck with S, dubious about my proposal of avocado coloured paint, had been that he would assess our collection of posters which I planned to hang in a collective rectangle on the wall and once I had them assembled he could then see how much of the dark green would potentially show. Since the paint was already bought – well – gifted really as it had been delivered in error as part of a mucked up order and the company had allowed me to keep it – I figured painting it wouldn’t hurt. If he hated it I could repaint it again (I’m practised, after all). I looked at my watch. Just over an hour before I’d need to leave for nursery. Could I do it? I decided I could. Literally running to the lounge to collect new roller trays, my trusty cutting in brush and newspaper in which to cover the radiator, I got started. One coat completed …a second to be applied tomorrow.
S, returning home to be greeted disarmingly as ‘P’ by his son, caught sight of the wall.
“Oh” he said, surprised. “Looks good pet. Are you pleased?”
“I love it. Do you like it?”
I rambled on quickly, hoping he might have forgotten our deal.
“I’ve made templates of our posters. I haven’t tried them on the wall yet but we may need a couple of new A4 ones to fill gaps. Where’s the skiing poster?”
He unstrapped a strawberry juiced O from his highchair and gave him a kiss.
“I don’t know where anything is anymore” he sighed …..but there was no reprimand……
Later that evening, as we sat watching The Apprentice I laughed at a leading question made by a puffy lipped girl.
“Er, can I just ask, don’t you think that criss cross just makes this cube?” she said to a fellow fool.
I tried her tack for size.
“S. Don’t you think this green wall just makes this house? Not the room, the actual house?”
“It does definitely.” he agreed. “Will there be a mirror on it?”
“Do you want a mirror on it?”
“Well, I just thought it might be, you know, …..”
“Less green?” I thought to myself.
“More reflective” he said carefully.
“The idea was our posters.”
“This bed” I said quickly changing the subject and pointing to an eBay purchase we are hoping to make.
“How much shall I bid?”
“Well. It’s a good one. Just keep an eye on it”
“I think I’ll paint it black…” I mused
“Bloody hell!” S closed his eyes, exasperated.
“Ok, ok. I won’t.”
“You do whatever you like anyway.” he said resignedly
“I don’t! I ask you first!” I insisted.
“You ask me and ask me and ask me …..until I relent” he said, offering me a chocolate.
I opened my mouth to protest and decided Id fill it with chocolate instead. I took one. My bible might advocate ‘decorating with style’. I decorate with stealth. So. About this black bed…..