Wednesday August 2, 2006
“Ah,” said Graham after he’d closely inspected the photographs I’d taken of my discouraging results yesterday, “what we have here is a classic case of paint type incompatibility.”
“The paint we got for the job doesn’t like the paint they used on the walls. You could work until the cows come home and it won’t cover what’s underneath. No problem. We’ll get a couple of buckets of the right stuff on our way over to the house.”
“Well, that’s good news. What about the paint we’ve already bought?”
“I’ll be able to use that on the hall, stair cases and landings.”
“Right. I’ll try anything if it’ll give us better, quicker results.”
So this morning found us wandering the aisles in B&Q where Graham made a bee-line for the paint and grabbed two medium size buckets of ‘One Coat’ emulsion, in a pleasantly cool ivory colour, and then, less confidently, selected two new emulsion brushes with which to apply it.
“You just don’t seem able to get good, quality brushes anymore,” he said.
“They’re too expensive for the mass market,” I said. “Most people want something cheap and disposable.”
“These’ll do,” he said. “Shame we can’t get at my brushes in storage.”
“If this does the trick you’ll have all your stuff out of storage next month and then we can ditch these.”
“Oh, they’ll do,” he repeated. “Got to get on with the job.”
Wielding my sparkling new B&Q pensioner’s discount card I paid for the goods, getting 10% off the marked price, and off we went to the house after another side trip, into Sainsbury’s for provisions of the food and drink kind.
After a well-earned coffee we set to work, Graham grabbing a bucket of paint and one of the new brushes and heading up to the living room, and me sitting down to upload the journal entry for yesterday and try once more to order broadband.
Hah! An hour later, having failed to obtain an online order and switched to the telephone line, I put the phone down with some relief. The problem has still not been resolved but a dynamic customer services operator listened carefully to my account, took charge of the case, and obtained supervisory permission to elevate it to the ‘national escalation’ team, which she did while I waited. I think there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the broadband tunnel. Not before time.
By that time, my energy quota for the day more or less used up, I wandered up to the living room to see what the suspicious silence was all about. You could have blown me down with a feather or whatever it is you use to blow down a pleasantly surprised pensioner. All the red had gone. Obliterated. Disappeared. Shuffled off the mortal walls into oblivion.
“Gosh!” I said, and “Gosh!” I meant.
“What’s it look like?” he asked. “I can’t see it at the moment for the red still swimming in my eyes.”
“It looks brilliant. The room has expanded like a Tardis and now it’s filled with light.”
“Great. Let’s have lunch and then I’ll come back up. I ought to be able to see it then.”
After washing the brush out ready for another session next week, we sat down to a salad and sandwich lunch, much enjoyed by both of us. When we went back to inspect the work once more Graham confirmed my initial take that the living room has risen phoenix-like from the ghastly state in which we’d found it.
“It begins to look like my initial vision of the place,” Graham said. “We’ll be fine now. We’ll need more of this paint to finish the job but it’ll go smoothly now we’ve got the right paint.”
“I’m really encouraged,” I said. “Thanks to you I’ll be able to face the rest of the project with a light heart. Let’s close up now and pick up the rest of the paint on the way back to the caravan.”
“Today? Why today?”
“I only get my pensioner’s discount on Wednesdays.”
“Ah. Good thinking.”
So. I had two problems today and they were both escalated to a higher authority. Graham did his job like magic. Hopefully British Telecom will be as successful, though I doubt they’ll be as fast.
On the way back to the little caravan by the cliffs I looked across at Graham. He was nodding off in the passenger seat but he looked his old self again, glowing and happy.
“You really enjoyed painting out that awful red, didn’t you,” I observed.
“Sure did. It’s a proper job, is painting walls.”
And he nodded off, the little silver Ford purred happily as we progressed along the coast road and I smiled to myself, content once more. Nothing like a proper job to cheer up an old poet.