Caution: Web Paint

November 30, 2016

Sometimes I wish I was like Mr Bean.

Ok, may sometimes I wish I was more like Mr Bean.

Sometimes I wish I could just put a stick of dynamite in a can of paint, light the fuse and let explosive forces decorate for me. I mean, I know it doesn’t work. Not just because it’s obvious but because it was tested on Mythbusters. At best you end up with a kind of Jackson Pollock-esque room. You certainly don’t end up with everything painted but the void left by a man who has snuck in to retrieve a hat.

We’re decorating the back bedroom at the moment, to turn it into a guest bedroom for, among others, my mother. Mum is spending Christmas here so we thought it would probably be the done thing to turn the man cave/spare room/clutter-filled hell-hole/ironing room/Peppa’s bedroom into a bedroom. I argued against decorating it, saying that for the most part anyone in that room would have their eyes closed and it would also be night, so a lot of the effort we’re putting into decorating is wasted, but that was over-ruled by Carole. And so we’re decorating.

It’s going to be finished by Christmas. It doesn’t feel like it at the moment as we’re coating woodwork in shiny, shiny paint. But it will be finished by Christmas. It has to be. Partly because my mum will be sleeping in there and partly for our sanity. Somewhere there’s a hell that’s just constantly entering a room that needs decorating, spending a day doing stuff and leaving only to return the next day and not really being able to explain what you actually did on the previous day. Some sort of mania is setting in. It’s a wonder we’re not both muttering “I hate that room!” in our sleep. Maybe that is still to come.

Today I went in there and there was a massive spider. And I mean massive. I could have covered the spider in paint and made it run across the skirting boards and it would have been on a par with Mr Bean’s dynamite. It was huge. And it just sat on the window frame and judged me with its eight eyes for not being able to paint things better or transfer the paint from the can via the brush without getting it all over my t-shirt.

(As a side note, it’s Wednesday. Since Saturday the longest I have worn a t-shirt without spilling something on to it is about 1 hour.)

I evicted it, in the end, into the great outdoors. Where it was probably eaten by one of the hundred-thousand birds that were in the garden at the time But had I not done that, I had visions of me happily painting something and turning round to find the spider stuck into the surface of the freshly painted thing.

Carole can forgive the odd lump or bump, but I think she’d draw the line at a glossed arachnid.



My Fat Balls Bring All The Birds To The Yard

November 29, 2016

This morning was definitely one of those “hahahaha I’m so glad I don’t have to go to work (at the moment)” kind of mornings. Because it was cold and the frost was thick. In fact, as the day progressed there were still rooftops and lawns that carried the morning frost. So, yeah, I was very glad I didn’t have to go to work today.

And, as though to reiterate that feeling, I spent thirty minutes – maybe even more – just standing in the kitchen watching, I think, most of the birds of Huddersfield dine at the number of avian eateries in the garden. Even if our (nice) next door neighbour does think that by feeding the birds we are leaving her with more snails in her garden. She might be right in some way, but the snails would’ve be frozen to the ground this morning, so bird feeders it is.

Now, there aren’t enough bird feeders out there. I’ve thought that for a while, but this morning’s show kind of brought that message home in a feathery maelstrom of beaks and wings. I’ve been thinking of re-purposing the washing lines as they don’t really get much of a look in during winter unless you enjoy bringing in clothes that are dry but also frozen in shape. And it looks like I’ll have to go out there with my fat balls (the food stuff, not my own personal fat balls – although they will come with me too) and some string and rig up some more feeders.

Because when you start watching, you notice little things. Like the one house sparrow who fails miserably to get onto a fat ball and just ends up fighting with all the other birds to get a space. He’s hopping up and down the shed roof like a crazy thing, tweeting at each ball as he comes to it, only to be chased away by an angry head or another sparrow’s arsehole. And now the starlings have found us, so they arrive in the hundreds (okay, tens but it looks like a lot) and bully their way into the food. I want to go out and explain that there’s plenty for everyone, but that doesn’t really work. Occasionally Peppa goes out and just moves them on so the sparrows can come back. It’s a nice little system and no birds have, thus far, been devoured by our favourite cat.

Then there’s the robin who, according to the packet of food we got from Wilko’s (during the epic spend) loves the berry flavoured soy things. I have not seen him eat a single one, if I’m honest. They’ve all gone, at the moment, but not down the throat of the robin. I can feel a strongly worded letter to Wilko’s coming on.

And the tits. The tits come in, peck away and scoot back to the trees. They need something of their own – or an opportunity to have something of their own at least so that they can eat and stay rather than eat and run.

I’m sure, in the past, we’ve had finches. I need to try and lure them back somehow. There are blackbirds kicking about for sure but they don’t seem to visit the table that often. So that’s something to work on while I’m not actually working.

And I did once see a pheasant in next door’s garden – but I’m not sure I want to encourage that one… although it would probably score quite highly in the I Spy Book Of Garden Birds…

Haunted Kitchen

November 28, 2016

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is some sort of force at work in the kitchen.

And when I saw force I mean evil force. An actual force for evil at work in a small kitchen in Huddersfield. Stranger things have happened. I know this because I am home a lot more now and can watch all the “unexplained” stuff on TV to my heart’s content. So an evil force in a food preparation area is not beyond the realms of possibility.

And if it’s not evil, then it’s some sort of fluctuation of the gravitational force because things keep happening.

Not content with showering me in bean juice yesterday (and, as we discovered this morning but somehow missed yesterday, the front of the kitchen drawers) I have been attacked by the contents of the cupboard in that same location and thrown a tub full of safety pins all over the floor.

All in the exact same spot.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s some sort of Native American burial ground directly under the house because that would be an absurd claim, what with this being West Yorkshire. But there’s clearly something. Maybe an old whippet graveyard or something. That could be sinister. And it would be regionally specific, is slightly culturally racist.

But it has to be something like that.

I mean it could be my innate clumsiness. It could be that. But in the same spot, three times in the past few days. That’s very coincidental. Even if it is more realistic than a haunted, neglected burial site which, for some reason, just makes accidents happen in a very non-specific way. But I refuse to believe that it’s me.

If I’ve learnt nothing else from these afternoon TV programmes it’s that stuff like this can happen.

Beans Means More Washing

November 27, 2016

I am thirty-nine years old. In six months time, I turn forty.

In those thirty-nine years I have opened countless tin cans. Be it a fruit cocktail with a disappointing cherry to people eating it ratio, a tasty chicken soup, some of those little sausages and beans or the ever-tricky corned beef, I have opened tins.

Tins do not phase me. I don’t struggle with them. Whether it’s a ring pull tin or one which needs to be opened old-school with a tin opener, I can manage them all. I was even, many years ago, at a bus stop in Leeds when a bus stop loon took it upon herself to explain to me that tins are heavy. A fact I couldn’t deny. If she’d just said a tin, then I’d have questioned her upper body strength. But tins, in the unspecified plural, can be heavy. So she was right.

And she was equally right when she went on to explain that they were heavy until you’d emptied out whatever was contained within. And then they were light.

Again, she wasn’t wrong. But, equally, she wasn’t someone you wanted to share a bus stop with for too long in case parts of your body ended up in those freshly emptied tins.

Anyway, nearly forty years of tin experience.

Tonight I opened a tin of beans and showered myself, and a good portion of the kitchen floor, in the tomato sauce.

I couldn’t move. I just stood in the kitchen clutching the tin in one hand, the ring pull lid in the other, saying, “Oh no!” a lot until Carole came running to my aid. And by aid I mean laughed at me, wiped the juice off my arm and forced me to remove my bean-stained t-shirt before I went upstairs to wash any remaining bean-derived moistness from my body.

To give you some idea of how covered I was, I shall try to explain.

At charity things, like Children In Need or Comic Relief of whatever, you’d often find two sorts of people. The people who would walk a distance with custard in their wellies, and the type who would bathe in a bath full of beans. Because nothing does more for charity than needless, but sponsored, food waste. I was more covered in bean juice that people who bathe in beans for charity. I think that’s fair to say. And I raised nothing for my efforts.



Catan Through The Opposition

November 26, 2016

Games night.

Another stunningly disappointing show from our hero, notching up a mere two wins out of the games on display this evening and firmly cementing his place as the loser in the house.

But I did win Settlers of Catan. And I never win Settlers of Catan. Because while the game mechanics revolve around trading materials, I choose to not trade instead trusting my luck to the dice and then swapping a massive handful of sheep for the stuff that I might need.

And that never works. Or very rarely works, anyway. It’s definitely never worked before tonight where I found myself on 10 points while Carole and Daniel were still on 2 and three.

Never happens.


I think I got a bit giddy then, flushed with success I lost everything that followed save for one game of Coloretto which was more by luck than management. Unless Daniel or Carole read this in which case it was pure strategy and incredible skill and they should both very much suck it.

I’m still last of the three of us, though. With little to no hope of even drawing level, let alone winning.

It takes real skill to be this consistant.

Bleak Friday

November 25, 2016

This house never ceases to amaze me.

Although I’m not sure that “amaze” is the right word.

In preparation for my mother coming to stay over Christmas we have left it until a month before we need it to be ready to decorate the back bedroom. A nice, small room which has easy decorating job written all over it (which is partly the reason we’re doing it, damn graffiti… ho ho ho).

But, because it’s a room located in this house it’s not straightforward by any means.

Firstly, the wallpaper has been an absolute bitch to get off. It’s taken Carole the best part of a day to do one wall (luckily the final one). And I haven’t fared much better when it comes to stripping the woodwork. Because there’s a lot of woodwork in there, seemingly. And despite bits of it taking what I believe were short periods of time, the whole thing has eaten time like, say, I’d eat cake.

That is to say with great gusto and a sugar-filled smile on its face.

But that’s not the surprising part.

The surprising part came when we popped off a tacky-looking panel – basically a bit of plywood – which had been nailed onto the side of the cupboard-cum-wardrobe. Underneath was a perfectly fine, albeit baby’s second or third poo colour, side to a wardrobe. Which looks better (or will do) that a flat bit of plywood.

Above that piece is another piece of ply. And buoyed by the success of removing that, we set to on the second piece.

The second piece also reveals a perfectly good side to a wardrobe/cupboard.

Apart from the fact that there is one who panel missing.

When you look at it now, knowing the secret, it’s immediately obvious from the inside of the cupboard. But when you’re popping the panel off you don’t expect to see the inside of a cupboard through it, like Narnia has a main entrance and one for use by the staff. What’s even more upsetting is that the plywood panel looks crappy… so now we’re trying to turn that into a feature (which I think we have sorted out) to disguise the fact that essentially someone just nailed up some plywood because they took a bit out of the cupboard for reasons best know to themselves…

That at the massive gap down the side of the window which you could park a bus in, the chink of light you can see through that gap which means that we also need to reseal a part of the external cladding and the fact that we’re a day behind (at least) on our self-imposed timescales.

Oh and the fact that I’d stripped all the paint off that first panel before we decided to pop it off and see what was underneath.

But other than that, everything’s going swimmingly.

God, I miss work.

Time Warp

November 24, 2016

“Oh he’s going to be spending all his time playing games…”

Chance would be a bloody fine thing.

Between washing, tidying, ironing, breaking the iron, ironing again, cooking, going to Halifax and – today – scraping off wallpaper and stripping paint I’ve almost not played anything at all.

In fact, as I did all that and played in the interim, as well as watching TV and the hours spent with Carole in the evenings when she’s home from work… when the bloody hell did I have time to do an actual job??

I know that nature abhors a vacuum and all that jazz, but I really didn’t expect to see my time fill up so easily and more-or-less naturally so early into my relaxation phase. I knew there would be some things – little jobs left by Carole in a morning as she leaves for work with a smile, a kiss and a “if you get a chance today…” but a lot of this time sink has not been asked for.

I have so many games to play. So many. But, instead, I am finding myself in the corner cupboard in the kitchen sorting out tools and picking up stray panel pins. Somewhere along the line I have sliced through my finger but not noticed until I caught the flap of skin on something. And have had to replay my day back to try and work out when it happened. I still don’t know. I’m so preoccupied with things that I am physically harming myself and not even noticing.

I didn’t sign up for this. No one said redundancy was like this. It doesn’t say in any of the books that you may find yourself spontaneously doing stuff that you’d normally turn your nose up at. When Carole was made redundant she rocked back and forth like a Romanian orphan to such an extent I had to move a week off from work to make sure she had company. She didn’t start cutting her fingers and not even caring about it. She got a job at Boots over Christmas. So I suppose, in a way, she was self-harming as well.

I was expecting at least some rocking, albeit well disguised by me being square-eyed due to endless hours of Xbox Live.

Maybe it will kick in next week…