Sunday, 5 June 2016

No cycling, but plenty of decorating

I don't like decorating. Back in the mid-eighties I bought a large, 1926-built semi-detached house in South London that needed to be decorated from top to toe and I did the lot, having first attended classes at the Alan Sharratt School of Wallpapering. My best pal, Alan, is good at decorating. In fact, he's good at most things. When we were at school, he taught me how to fix my own bike; we used to build bikes and I was fairly good at it. Right now, though, I can't for the life of me remember how to take apart and then rebuild a bike. If something goes wrong with the Kona, it goes straight to the shop. Similarly, decorating. Alright, I can paint a wall (who can't?) but when I bought the aforementioned house it needed wallpapering. I called Al, he showed me how and off I went.

But that was a while ago and once I'd finished the house I kind of vowed never to embark upon such a project again. When I moved again the place I bought didn't need immediate decorating. In fact, I've been saying that for the past 15 years and, well, things have been neglected. Either that or we've paid builders and painters and roofers and floor layers and carpet fitters to do the work for us, although I keep looking at my front driveway thinking 'I could do it, I really could', but I couldn't and I won't so I make do with Roundup for the weeds and once a year you will find me sitting on the driveway in the sunshine removing dandelions and other unwanted plants.

The time comes, however, when I realise that I've got to roll my sleeves up and do some decorating. Our staircase was looking a right mess and the carpet running up the stairs was threadbare. We bought a new carpet at John Lewis recently and this weekend was earmarked for a spot of painting. Gloss on the woodwork, an intricate, time-consuming job, and now the house reeks of paint, there are exposed Gripperods to watch out for and, well, I'm glad it's over. It's taken me the whole weekend.

First I had to rip up the old carpet and the underlay. Then I had to take the carpet and the underlay to the local dump, along with an old duvet. When I returned I had to extract staples from the stairs and then sand the woodwork in preparation for the big job: painting. I went to bed last night with the daunting thought of painting in the morning. Both rides were aborted, which was a shame as the weather was wonderful. I took a trip the local DIY store to buy a few things (dust sheet, sanding block, light bulbs, wood varnish, white spirit) and then, having been to mum's en route for tea and cake, I returned to the house and got started.

Apart from a brief break at lunch time, I soldiered on until around 5pm when I retired to the garden with a cold beer and a bowl of amazing chilli con carne with rice and salad. Then I sat and watched a movie, Case 39 with that woman from Bridget Jones' Diary (Zellwegger). It was quite good and had me on the edge of the sofa once or twice. Right now I'm watchind Duran Duran live at the Eden Project – all in aid of BBC Music Day.

The smell of paint is everywhere. Paint and white spirit, but there's also a sense of achievement, which always feels good.

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