Just as I was about to resort to desperate measures, the Child Catcher called.
“Sorry to have missed you this week,” he apologised with a chuckle. “I’ve been away.”
I breathed a sigh of relief…. he hadn’t been avoiding me (or our woodwork) after all…
The desperate measures would have involved calling a decorator my friend had once recommended back when we had been redecorating our old flat. Not problematic, you might think. Sensible in fact. Until I admit to us having cancelled him at the eleventh hour. Bad?
It gets worse.
“Bastard just let me down” the aggrieved decorator had texted a friend. Or rather didn’t….the ‘bastard’ himself being the recipient….who turned out to be pretty unbastardly about the whole thing and in doing so helped diffuse a little of the decorators red-faced shame. A texted gentlemans handshake followed but paths never crossed again.
“Surely” I plotted deviously with my friend “I could ring and book him for our job without him ever knowing S is my husband?”
“Maybe” she had said. “Worth a try to get you finished…”
I’d nodded thoughtfully… but our scheming was to turn out to be unnecessary.
“Great to hear from you” I said somewhat over-enthusiastically as relief flooded my voice. ” Did you have a think about price?”
He had been asked to quote for the sanding, prepping and painting of our woodwork to include stairs, spindles, skirtings, architraves and doors as well as sanding the bathroom window frame, affixing skirting in the spare bedroom and adding his name to the long list of people who have had a go at making a crappy old warped and rotten door which quite frankly should have been returned to the Steptoe and Son sender upon receipt, actually do what a door is supposed to do and close. It’s been under the surgical knife that many times it would probably have been cheaper in the long run to have had it fashioned from 18 carat gold.
“I’m ringing round everyone with my quotes” he said “and you’re the first.”
I scribbled it down.
“Let me chat to my husband and get back to you.” I stalled. “What’s your availability?”
“First come, first served…” he answered. “Boomerang. I’m chucking all the quotes out there and seeing what comes back.”
“I’ll get back to you by lunch time.” I promised “though we may also ask if you would paint the hallway. I tripped at the top of the stairs and sent coffee everywhere. Up the ceilings, across the walls….”
“Ohhhhhhhh. Bless you” he chuckled before his tone switched abruptly to serious. “Next door called. Said they had a leak…..”
“Coming through their walls….”
The penny dropped. Belatedly I laughed nervously back.
“Right. Ha. Ha. Thanks then. I’ll call you later….”
The Finance Director received the news with a shrug before asking that the quote be rounded down by £40. Price agreed….Im getting good at this… it was however coupled with an executive decision by the FD to paint over the coffee stains himself. Considering his accomplished skill with the Earthborn (unappreciated by his son who still thinks every DIY job in this house is done by a long absent C.) this is probably the best solution for both financial and aesthetic reasons. The fly in the ointment being time….
Talking of absent….that is indeed what C turned out this weekend to be.
“Er hi ya” came the ominous call Friday morning.
“Hi” I began warily. “Everything ok?”
“Well, that’s the thing really. Its why I’m calling. I can’t really move my neck so I’m not going to be able to work tomorrow.”
“Oh gosh, what’s happened?” I asked.
“Think it must be this hot weather. We’ve been sleeping with a fan on….I think my neck must have seized.”
I sighed inwardly, my concern evaporating to be replaced by irritation.
“Next week I’ve promised to do a job for another guy” C continued quickly, “who I have been putting off and can’t really any more…the week after I’d like a full weekend off so I can be with you on the 17th August…to finish the hallway, start the snug floor, do the cupboard and perhaps plaster those walls upstairs….. but after that we are going on holiday.”
“Ah. Ok.” I stared along our unfinished hallway mentally steeling myself for another three weeks of the status quo.
“Might we get most of it done in that day?” I asked, fully aware as the words left my lips, of the foolishness of the suggestion.
“Um. Well. Have you still got that bag of dust?”
“In the snug. The bag of dust?”
“A bag of dust? Did you tell me you were keeping it?”
“Er. Well. It’s like all these things….”
I peered into what has become, once again, an anxiety-inducing vacuum. No bag of dust could be seen …largely as nothing is easily identifiable …a state of affairs which has ground all DIY…curtain poles, picture hanging etc….to a frustrating halt as the necessary equipment can no longer be found.
“You might be lucky” I said, voice trailing as sincerity departed.
Considering I had found when attempting to contain the unruliness of our driveway rubbish tip to within the skip bag we had bought for the purpose, a perfectly good (until it met rain) roll of quality sandpaper and a full tube of wood glue I felt fairly sure a bag of dust would not have survived such rigorous culling.
Which, I thought to myself, should shortly be conducted once more before we stop believing the room will ever be habitable again.
“It’s not the end of the world.” He replied. “If its gone I can make more…”
‘One of your many talents’ I thought dryly before bidding my farewell.
A crisis meeting was needed. Friday evening, after a long weeks work…S barely inside the door… it was called.
“Ok. So C still has….” I counted on my fingers “the slithers of tiles to do, the rest of the grouting, the snug cupboard for which the pre-cut shelves are amongst that pile of wood, the re-sanding of the already sanded floor…”
“I’m going to have have words with him about that. I’m so angry…” S interrupted.
“Why is it C’s fault?” I asked.
“Because he told me not to oil it. And he was wrong. If I had we wouldn’t need to be bloody sanding it again.”
“Ok.” I allowed a beat to pass for harboured annoyance to escape before continuing ..
“And the plastering of the bedroom walls upstairs”
“Right” said S
“And he has one day he can do it in. In three weeks time. At this rate he’ll still be here finishing off dribs and drabs at Christmas.”
S nodded his emphatic agreement.
“No. We’ve got to work something out. But…” He looked appealingly at me “lets not do it now.”
And with that we pushed all thoughts of the four skinny little tile slithers standing between us and hallway floor completion and instead set about enjoying a peaceful weekend without a vested coffee-guzzling bulk clogging up the hallway.
Our crisis meeting, however, did not resume mainly as another crisis – O being decidedly under the weather – knocked everything other than cuddles and the administering of neon banana flavoured antibiotics off the to-do list. But a plan is forming…..to somehow reduce C’s list to a manageable day so that the 17th August…and not every Saturday thereafter…is the last we’ll see of him for a while.
A plasterer has therefore been booked for tomorrow ….spare bedroom almost complete…. and Im trying to summon up the energy to suggest that we sand the snug floor ourselves. Quite where the time will come from to both paint hallway and sand floors I don’t know. But theres a mantra Ive been finding I’ve been turning to a lot of late….there’s all the time in the world to sleep when I die.
Right now….we’ve got a house to finish….
With plastered walls imminent I’m indulging myself in the swatching of paint colours. Im thinking the pale green (not least as we have a tub already….)
Ok ….so an idea….paint all architrave a dark greyish black…..to frame the rooms inside.