Monday, 13 August 2012

With apologies for lateness

               Anybody who knows me, even if they don’t know me particularly well, will know that I only have an ‘A’ game. It’s only as good as a great many peoples D, E or F games or worse, but every single thing to which I apply myself is always sure to get my fullest attention and every last mote of my exceedingly modest talents. So when it comes to demolishing the shower cubicle, all sensible suggestions are along the lines of a rather debonair complete gutting and rebuilding from the wreckage. However, that is not in my nature and I can only choose instead to delicately remove the existing structure piecemeal, retaining as much of the material as will continue to serve a function and in as good a state as possible. Only I, I suspect, would willingly trade smacking the whole lot to pieces with a mallet for gouging tiny chunks out at a time with a Stanley knife.  The project continues at a steady if rather pedestrian pace.

                It is not the only item on the agenda. Another job benefitting from the same approach is the wood-staining of the facia boards. Of course I only brought some small brushes up with me, a tiny bit of sandpaper and it doesn't help when the building is getting on for fifteen metres long. I am also extremely cautious on ladders, with the exception of a suicidal urge to step back to admire my handiwork. Reluctant to do much by way of reaching too far across and upsetting my balance, the steps need to be moved along at rather pathetic increments.  Upon reflection, I suppose I could or should have decanted some of the wood-stain into a smaller container that I could hang at the top of the ladder, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. Also, as the wood was so dry, it was positively sucking the fluid off the brush, so that it would only cover a small area at a time. Feeling my aches today I can only conclude that I was up and down that ladder more times than there are grains of sand in the bay. It’s a wonder that I haven’t worn the treads away. At least now there are only three more sides to go! (I’ll remember to take that small pot up the ladder with me next time.)

                They say that, in adversity, you discover things about yourself that you never knew before. It transpires that I am truly fearsome. As I was doing my watering rounds the other day, a rabbit was hiding in a clump of nettles as I walked past it. The next morning, it had changed position a bit but was stone dead. I plucked up the courage to pick up the corpse and leave it in the stable where the feral cats occasionally hang out. Needless to say, it was never seen again. Within days, I startled another bunny as I walked around the house to set the TV aerial up. It froze, trying its best to remain unseen, even though it had practically no cover at all. When I returned to collect the aerial late that night, when the little white dot appeared in the middle of the screen after closedown, Thumper had shifted position but had definitely curled up his toes. I had my hands full already so I left the body where it lay. The next day, something with an appetite for a fresh carcass had kindly carried it a short way off and disembowelled it. Next time I was passing that way, it had completely gone. Just call me ‘Bunny-killer’.

                But it’s not one-way traffic on the wildlife front. One of my golfing partners got crapped on by a zealous parent seagull as we wandered too close to some fluffy brown chicks. However, the most sinister creature is actually one of the smallest. Flies are my primary nemesis. They are everywhere and insidious. I am obliged to have a grudging respect for them however. While it was obvious to them that I wasn’t carrion, they appeared to appreciate that if they could scare me into falling off the ladder, then I easily could be. If anyone has any advice on how to get the upper hand with the blighters, I would be most glad to hear it. I am already looking at fly nets, lavender scents and whatever insectoid napalm our friends at ICI and Bayer can come up with. My respect and compassion for the animal kingdom does not extend to invertebrates.

Only receiving terrestrial broadcasts? Poor you.
                I must confess that setting up the aerial outside every day was getting a bit tiresome. Gail decided that she’d get a replacement that we could mount on the old satellite-dish pole attached to the outside of Goat-room 2. What I didn’t expect her to buy was the massive, high-gain monstrosity that she’d ordered over the internet. There is a scene during the opening credits of ‘The Flintstones’ where they go to a drive-in restaurant and the brontosaurus ribs that they’ve ordered tip their car over. That is the image that goes through my mind every time I see this huge contraption, that wouldn’t look out of place at Jodrell Bank, bolted on to the side of the house. One good gust, we know that there’ll be one along sooner or later, and we’ll be lying on our new windows and examining the grass at very close quarters. It does work though, so all in all it can be seen to have been a wise investment. I need now to grow the stones to drill a hole through the wall to feed the cable in.

                One reason for my hesitation to do so is the experience of erecting the new curtain rail in the living room. Another of Gail’s purchases was a bargain, a brand new 18V Makita drill with every accessory under the sun. Armed with this manly bit of kit, I marked up where holes were required and set to work. Even though I only needed to drill deep enough to fit the raw plugs, the walls mounted a stubborn defence. I can assume that it is to that same stubbornness that we owe our continued occupation in the face of often quite hostile tempests. It does however, make DIY a monumental challenge.

                Ever ones to fail to appreciate the fragility of our finances, we continue to deny our impending destitution by treating ourselves to meals out. Jayne and Geoff at Backaskaill hosted an evening of Chinese cuisine. Over dinner, we enjoyed a lively, informative conversation with our fellow dinners. Bill, for example, is a wonderful artist and a shark fisherman and Tony is an amazing musician and a keen archaeologist. Things turned ugly, however, when Tony mentioned that he’d heard that I play bass guitar. Not satisfied with my own frank assessment of my meagre talents, he invited Gail and me around to his house the following afternoon. The fare, by the way, was bloody excellent, even though I am no fan of Chinese, be it politics, hokey medicine or food. I have it on good authority that they know a fair bit about masonry.


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