No point in getting shirty

How long does it take to paint a room about 12ft by 9ft?

Let me tell you reader – and I do this with no pride whatever – it takes a little over six months.

Last autumn our skilled contractors created a utility room chez nous, as you may recall. It is a fine little room, a place to keep a large, occasionally fruitily aromatic, hound and all the essential machinery of the 21st century kitchen.

And the walls are still as pink with bare plaster as they were the day when rockabilly builder Ashley nodded his quiff in quiet satisfaction at a job done.

Things have got in the way, not least a broken wrist, and, well, stuff.


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Small But Fierce of Ipswich has finally run out of patience and threatened to get a man in. I assume she means to do the painting, but she is at a dangerous age.

She has also been hinting about getting a woman in, at which I perked up considerably, but it seems she is thinking that a busy lifestyle means that a cleaner could be gainfully employed moving the dust around.

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I’m not against it in principle and were I a man of means I’d be all in favour of it in practice. However kind as my employers are, their kindness does not let me stretch to liveried staff or staff of any kind, come to that.

In fact we occasionally have to lock the side gate to stop the window cleaner from getting round the whole house, thus reducing the bill.

I suspect SBF’s motive for floating these ideas is to generate a little dynamism in the household chores department and I have to say it worked, at least partly, straight away.

While she was watching one of her unwatchable TV programmes I lifted my carcass from the sofa and tidied up the post-supper mess in the kitchen, remarkable enough.

I then spied a basket of laundry with a number of my shirts in it. Now there are two domestic rules which do not get broken, ever, in the house and one is that I iron my work shirts. Full stop.

I also get to vacuum the stair carpet. About that nothing at all can be said.

Anyhow, I busied myself with ironing a week’s worth of shirts and retired to bed, a little glow of satisfaction burning within.

A while later, a curly little bonce appeared around the door. “Where are those shirts?” she asked. “Hanging up. I have ironed them!” I proudly stated.

“Wouldn’t you like me to wash them first?” she riposted, before dissolving into hoots of laughter, the minx.

And so it came to pass that four freshly-ironed shirts, representing some serious wasted labour, have been lobbed into the washing machine.

The fifth? Ah, well, that’s the reason I’ve spent the day mostly upwind of my beloved colleagues. Best for everyone, I think.

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