Weekends are mostly spent berating ourselves for not having the time, energy or inclination to get on with house jobs.
“It’s only when you look at the house through the eyes of visitors that you notice how much we are still living with unfinished…” S said last week as friends knocked at our door to be greeted by inhabitants profusely apologising for the repulsive mounds of rubbish they had encountered on its approach.
“I’ve been meaning to go to the dump…” S had explained, “but I’ve not had the time….”
S lamented time’s rapid journeying through our weekends again this week as Saturday ebbed away without progress and the paralysing array of jobs still to do left us both wanting to do none. Electing stoically but with a heavy heart to miss a family outing to get on with DIY S was to discover that time, it would seem, gets eaten by cot beds which decide to come clean about the fact that they require a selection of bolts and screws not in our possession halfway through their dismantling. An episode which resulted in the DIY net gain of about three screws added to the ongoing curtain pole installation project following the cotbed being returned to its previous role of cot rather than its desired role of bed. So it was with a sense of relief that work would continue with little effort from us that I opened the door to the ever-apologetic painter at the ungodly hour of 7.30 am on Wednesday. Could he arrive extra early? I had pleaded. We would be leaving, I had warned, at 7.45am.
Needless to say he found us in our pyjamas.
“I’m so sorry to drag you here on a pretext” I said as I beckoned him in. “We should be leaving by now…but unsurprisingly for us ….we are late. Tea? Coffee?”
His shoulders and cheeks rose to his ears in a nervous smile creasing both face and body. “No. I don’t like either.”
“A cold drink? Milk? Orange juice?”
I realised as the words left my mouth that my offerings were tailored to a less mature palette and I wracked my brain for more grown-up options.
It was the best I could do.
He nodded as his body folded once more. “Yes please”
I hurried back into the kitchen where O, fascinated by the arrival of yet another new tradesman, was moving breakfast to anywhere but his mouth.
‘Eat your egg darling” I chided as I rummaged for a glass.
“Come through…come through….” I urged the painter glancing back to find him standing meekly in the hallway awaiting further instruction.
“Shoes off?” he asked politely.
“No..no, come on through….”
Padding through in his socked feet he reached for his water.
“Shall I go upstairs? Would that be alright?” he asked tentatively. “It was doors you wanted me to paint, if I remember rightly….”
“Yes…, let me show you again what there is to do….O….are you finished poppet? Come with mummy” and up and onto my hip he was gratefully scooped, soldier crusts abandoned, for a tour of the remnants of our previous painter’s botched job.
“So…..if you could sand back these doors here….there are marks here on the skirting where it’s been knocked….in the bathroom there’s a bit of skirting still unpainted and we wanted you to sand the window frame…we’re going to leave it wood so we’ll oil it later …”
“Yes, that one. All of them actually…sanded back and painted. That’s about it. Paints there…is that ok? Sorry that’s rushed….”
“Ok” he executed another crumpled full-body smile and retrieving a knotted carrier bag of brushes from his pocket, set to work leaving O and I to hastily dress and make our belated way out of the door.
Later that night as I hovered hungrily at the island watching S prepare dinner I asked how the painter had got on.
“Good I think.” he said. “He’d left by the time we got home…”
I headed upstairs to take a look.
“He’s painted the bloody window frame,” was my thundering verdict upon my return.
“Wasn’t he meant to?”
“No. No he wasn’t.”
“I think it looks better painted, pet.” he said carefully as he measured both my reaction and the spooning of rice into bowls followed by ladelfuls of bean chilli.
“Humph” came my disheartened reply.
Despite the hiccup….and that’s all it was as I’ve resignedly come round to S’s way of thinking….our bashful new painter has managed what many have failed to do before him. Transform our motley collection of weathered, recycled doors – gummied with the crispy paint residue produced by my unsuccessful attempts at stripping them – into whitely eggshelled specimens. With hooks now adorning each one dressing gowns can be escalated from their current status of crumpled-mound-in-corner to the far more respectable hanging-on-back-of -door. Hooking a miniature Spider-man version onto O’s door I allowed myself to remember their heart-sinking arrival on the back of Steptoe’s lorry and C’s resulting surgical attempts at their installation back in Week One …..panels and planes, braces and bashing being needed to wrestle them into doorways unwilling to welcome such pitiful examples of carpentry. Not one of them was the same. Each had a different width of broken glass pane, different beading and different panelling. A record breaking (?) nine months later we have finished doors. Still motley but in their uniform coating of white eggshell and sporting gleaming new panes of laminated glass, they are a crew, at least, of sorts.
In celebration of such an astounding display of progress I decided a little creative project was needed, one which has been stored patiently on my ‘finishing touches’ list…the upcycling and re-purposeing of a skinny set of wooden drawers. Not unattractive in their previous state the drawers, far too deep I had found to store anything you hope to be able to find again, had swollen and no longer fitted their housing. First step was to remove the box drawers and stack them next to O’s changing table for additional storage of wipes and Sudocrem ….I know I know….after the switch from cot to bed and the waving goodbye of any further lie-ins I realise a serious attempt at potty training is next on list…the benefits being far greater than simply the farewelling of nappies. We can then lose the changing table making space for…perhaps…an old school desk? I certainly know someplace I might find one…..
Taking the drawer housing down to the snug to make use of its continuing workshop status I then set about using up leftover Down Pipe and painted its interior. With a set of castors attached the unit has now been recommissioned as a shoe rack/toy shelf and given pride of place in O’s room. But the itch to get creative isn’t fully scratched…..a huge wicker light shade has been purchased along with a couple of cans of spray paint. Destination:lounge. I’ll keep you, literally, posted…