Its close to midday and something broken is lurking with a damp mark
Under the bulb light you see a gap that almost stops your heart
You try to fill but terror makes the gap bigger before you make it
You start to sneeze as bodged DIY looks you right between the eyes,
Cause this is filler, filler knife
And no ones gonna save you from the crack that’s at ceiling height
You know its filler, filler strife
Youre fighting for your life back, inside a bedroom, got to paint it tonight.
I’m a natural at this. Just tip me the nod, and I’ll happily butcher the next verse of Michael Jackson’s horror operetta.
This story starts in the hazy hinterland of house extensions where the builders misunderstood the architect’s drawing for a roof, and instead built us a slatey sieve. Consequences of this innovative roofing technique include the traipsing of endless charlatans pretending to be fix the problem, and a brave internal design concept best described as “find your inner river“. Generally with an inner bucket – okay I’m exaggerating a little, and my punishment was to be imprisoned in a plastery room with only a paintbrush for company.
Fuck* painting is dull. After the passing of geological epoch lasting all of ten minutes , – recorded by the weary swish of an apathetic paintbrush – I was inspired to invent a new DIY item. I have developed a “splatter“; take a horse (or any other ungulate) hair painting stick, deposit brush handle deep into paint, apply briskly to wall in the manner of a classic escaping prisoner, before abandoning on paint tin. And behold! One hour later, you have your splatter. It’s just one big bristle that doesn’t move much and should be thought of as a tool of mess destruction.
My request for an upgrade to a roller was met with the rolling eyes of someone who was once caught in the enfilading fire of a previous attempt, and the chance to work outside in a damage limitation exercise. Carol tends to patiently clean between the brick path with a stick and stoical expression. I chose powertools, and was happily re-enacting the battle of Alemain with nothing more than a pressure washer and a hearty “Ah Hah, take that you dirty hun“.
Two problems smartly rocked up and demanded attention. Firstly while cleaning one stone was extremely satisfying (especially as my phantom 8th Army bravely retook Tobruk), another 200 were lined up ready for inspection. Secondly, a pair of passing joggers – taking advantage of a brief dry spell – were accidentally** power gritted at around 100 MPH. Any protest died in their throats as, on turning to face their nemesis, they were confronted by a swamp monster shouting “Outflank the bastard, send Perkins ahead and get bloody Sidebottom to ready his commando unit“.
And while my lighting campaign was reigning terror on moss and dirt – dug in and ready to fight to the death – defeat was nearly snatched from victory as our supply lines were desperately overstretched. The Medusa of various leads and hoses tied themselves together in the manner of garden products everywhere, and brought the advance to a shuddering halt. Were it not for desperate orders signalling a swift hinge for the army of arm, friendly fire would have been concentrated on the plug socket.
100 PSI. Water. Electricity. There is going to be an Incident there on the scale of “Yes they’ve got machine guns and yes it’s a valley perfectly set up for an ambush, but we’re the bloody light brigade aren’t we?”
Cables untangled, we dispatched the remaining enemy stones into the garden now resembling a chilly Mediterranean. Not unreasonably expecting an extended period of R&R and possibly a nice sandwich, my hopes were dashed by a new objective of a similar clean up job on the Patio. My trousers were pressure blasted mud, my shoes a watersports park for lemmings, my fizog a face pack of PH balanced moss and, what’s left of my hair infused with the essence of water distressed dandelion.
But a man has his orders. And whether that’s from his C-in-C or his wife, he just jolly well gets on with it.
From Michael Jackson to the Crimea to Montgomery in North Africa. There’s a grand sweep of modern history you’re not going to get anywhere else. Whether you would want to is an altogether different – and possibly more pertinent – question.
* Sorry Mum. She told me the other day she nearly posted on this blog. God alive, leave me with my few remaining comb over shreds of dignity