8.30 am…my phone buzzed.
“This is not a good start” hello-ed the Child Catcher, “Im going to be late. I promised my son I’d take him to the airport and I’m now stuck on the M25.”
“That’s fine…don’t worry” I reassured, “we are in no rush.”
We were in a rush.
We had holiday purchasing to do, followed by a nap for O and work for me after which we would make our way to the other side of the Thames to see a friend….worryingly once again without the sat nav (see Treasure Hunting sans Sat Nav Week 7 – Day Four if you require…after my last post….any further proof of my lack of navigation skills) The sat nav has already, in a rare display of Pebbledashed foresight, been programmed to display Grecian roads in preparation for our holiday. Following the weekends farm incident and an earlier situation in the week where I felt my way to Battersea Zoo severely disadvantaged by the automated voice doing its best to steer me to Lefkada, I was apprehensive to say the least. I poured a coffee and tapped a foot.
Finally the awaited knock came at the door. Opening it I discovered a deeply tanned and apologetic decorator, head hanging low.
“Come in…come in” I beckoned as an inquisitive O flew to the door behind me to see who was a-knocking.
“What must you think? Late and arrives asking for coffee?” he said.
I batted his comment away as I shut the door behind him. “You can’t start a day without one.” and flicking on the kettle I proceeded to ask politely about his holiday. Unaccustomed to this level of un interest from a tradesman…..football or chocolate (or both) is customary…. a bemused O looked unimpressed.
“Ball. Garden. Um on.” he said finally.
The Majorcan tale continued.
“Um on!” he demanded.
“Football?” asked The Child Catcher breaking from his story. “I can’t arrive late and play football. Ha ha ha” and with that I followed him, somewhat eagerly, into the hallway to talk paint.
His nickname has stuck but as we talked I realised that the animated gesturing of his waif and sinewed body in accompaniment to a story before the abrupt pausing, eyes angled sideways watching intently for a reaction…doesn’t entirely fit. Master of Ceremonies at the circus….top hatted and tailed …whipping ponies trotting round a ring….is more like it. Nevertheless, it will be as the Child Catcher …or CC…that from here on in he will be referred.
“I bought this paint” I gestured, “for the main woodwork and this paint” I signalled to the Down Pipe, “for the architrave. Will that be ok?”
“Oooooo” he said as he executed, I felt sure, a ball-change. “Looks good. Looks good. Sometimes you have to be daring…”
“Mummy!” interrupted O.
“I figured it was just paint” I said “so if it looks dreadful I can do it again a a later date.”
“Mummy!” O called again.
“You can” he paused “you can. So I’ll do this….this?…this….”
“Yes darling.” I turned expectantly. O pointed.
“Yes poppet. Those are daddy’s painting shoes. Right, so” I turned back expecting to find CC paused in pointing pose. He pretty much was. I pressed play.
“This….this….” he resumed.
“…the treads you want white…I’ll scrape back all the plaster and paint from the skirting before ….”
“painting and get the detail showing again…”
“Yes darling, what is it? I just have to talk to the painter a minute. Will you let mummy talk?” I asked scooping him up for a kiss.
“Yeeeeep.” he replied.
“Thank you” and setting him back down he turned back to me with a chanced plea.
“Ob the Uilder”
‘No darling. No TV. We are going shopping now.” I returned my attention to CC. “So…”
“Adoption?” he suggested. “Not long term…for the week?”
I smiled thinly and continued as I heard a slam of the door. We both looked.
‘Its got no handle” said CC as we stared dumbfounded at the lounge door.
Flying to the understairs cupboard I fumbled wildly for a screwdriver. Spanners, rollers, paint pots, tool boxes….open box….no screwdriver….
Silence from the lounge.
“It will be ok” I assured no one “he’ll be sat on the sofa trying to work the remote. He might even manage. Bugger. Where is a screwdriver!”
Finding a skinny one I rattled it to no avail in the hole where a handle dowel should sit before returning to my panicked fruitless search. Stay calm. I tried to tell myself. There is no danger. Stay calm.
“Best thing would probably be the handle itself” CC suggested helpfully. Or rather un helpfully.
“I have not the foggiest….” I said, head in cupboard, items flinging out behind me “where that would be….ah….hang on…..the new ones….” And with that I shot to the snug, having seen two sat atop the mantlepiece, and began tearing at the packet.
‘Its ok baby. We’re coming…” I called as I struggled with the wrapping. Taking the packet from my shaking hands and extracting the dowel the Child Catcher let us in.
O, with blanket tucked around his feet and remote in hand, stared back.
“You gave me a fright!” I said as I hugged him close. He broke away, running to the fireplace where he picked up a large piece of ornamental pumice, brought home from a honeymoon beach and staggering towards me, he held it aloft in his hands.
Taking one look at the glass coffee table I scooped him up and sped off for some much needed soothing retail therepy.
Upon our return I was to be tested again.
“Ive done one of these architraves…so you can see what it will look like” CC said.
I nodded pensively. Yes, I decided. They look good.
Walking into the kitchen I stopped in my tracks.
“I wondered what you’d think of it.” he called after me.
The extractor had been erected.
“Your electrician cursed his way through it” he said, following me in “and has left the plastic film on just so it didn’t get marked with his finger prints. You just have to peel that off. What do you think of it?”
“Awful,” I said simply.
“I knew you’d say that. You’ve been used to nothing….and now this.”
“It’s too low…I asked for it to be higher. It’s wonky. And its ugly.” I circled the island.
“Taking it in?” He asked “different perspectives…?”
I shook my head. No. It will have to go.
Later I texted S. A photo. There were no words.
“What’s it look like?” he texted back.
‘A bin” I replied
Do you like it?”
I sent another picture in reply.
“Bin is about right.” Beeped the texted response.
My thumbs worked frantically.
“We’ll have to change it” I pinged back.
“We’ll get used to it”.
Meanwhile architraves, one by one, were being darkened as my confidence in my Down-Piped decision weakened.
“Do you like them?” I asked S.
His silence lasted several beats too long.
“I really don’t know” he said eventually.
“Nor do I” I admitted. However, my agonised decision – having fluctuated from wanting to repaint white immediately to craving a deeper black rather than grey – is this….
Wait for the carpet, the art wall….had you been wondering about those frames?…. and the lighting and then see. I’m feeling positive as the periods spent thinking it will work currently outnumber those when I fear it won’t.
And the extractor? To be honest that still feels offensive. However…with it straightened, heightened and possibly even accompanied by a hanging rack alongside for pans …..to steal the eye away from what looks like ducting punching through our ceiling …..it may cease to be noticeable. Failing that Ill hold S to plan B. Take the required picture for building control, remove and make good.
But I’m holding my nerve. Or trying.