I have not been on a single run in the past week. I have my reasons (or, as I will henceforth refer to them ‘justifications’*) for this malaise. They are not entirely of my own making…
We need a new carpet for the lounge. It is possible to see the migrating woodlice through the current one. My wife has decided that if we are to have a new carpet fitted we should re-decorate before it arrives – ‘Just a lick of paint’ – and has accordingly allowed me ten days (including work days) to get this done before the fitters arrive. The lounge, I should point out, is three rooms knocked into one and is consequently the kind of shape that you only otherwise see when you are very bad at Tetris. So far, after a day spent disconnecting TV’s and Hi-Fi’s, and shifting furniture (Why does nothing have castors any more?) I have painted the ceilings and my wife has commenced the glossing. I have looked at the damaged plaster work that was formerly hidden behind furniture and which I now feel obliged to repair. I have also investigated a dip in the floor which turns out to be a small collapse where the cavity wall formerly sat between the old house and the old extension. A builder friend came and channelled out, filled with concrete and left in good order as per, and now I have to learn to apply the leveller between the two surfaces. I have found my trowel, which was covered in the rock-hard evidence of its last use, and have spent several hours cleaning it off. I have also spent a number of long, dark hours discovering that I cannot plaster. Furthermore, I have discovered that I cannot adequately clean trowels, as my newly plastered patches all have deep ravines running across them where the more intransigent lumps of dried-on concrete lingered. I will repair them just as soon as I have managed to hammer the concrete from my spatula.
I have also spotted a number of small stains on the walls (mostly chocolate and wine if I’m honest) that need to be removed before the new paint is applied, as I know that otherwise they will leach through in seconds. I have discovered that Sugar Soap is my weapon of choice here. It does not work, but it is very cheap and every bit as effective as all the expensive preparations that also do not work. I have removed all door furniture, as requested, with the minimum of injury, and have subsequently spent a forlorn hour staring at all the new electrical sockets and switches that my wife has purchased. I have added the emergency services to my speed-dial and alerted the National Grid to expect unusual activity within the next few days. I wouldn’t want them thinking that ET had come back to pick up his bike. I have taken the batteries out of the smoke alarm.
This evening, having previously moved the TV away from the walls to a position that makes its survival at best ‘of concern’, I agreed to reconnect all the wires so that my wife did not have to stare at the blank screen all evening, pretending to be me after my laptop has updated unexpectedly. So many wires, so few sockets. I have absolutely no idea what all these devices do. I think we are probably hard-wired into Beijing. Anyway, after a mere few hours, she can now watch TV again, although it does somehow appear that Derek Trotter now speaks in Urdu and Rodney has had a very heavy weight placed upon his head. Also, according to the guide, she is watching Countryfile. The remote control flushes the toilet.
Tomorrow I will begin to paint the walls and, given my propensity towards spillage, I must agree that this is best done before the carpet arrives. I will carefully edge each wall with a single confident stroke that resembles the coastline of Croatia before attempting to apply the paint with a roller that does not appear to be quite the same size as the cage it (almost) fits upon; marvelling at my own ability to produce the kind of striped effect only otherwise witnessed on the lawns at Buckingham Palace and the capacity of formerly flat plaster to assume the rather disturbing silhouette of Dolly Parton behind a net curtain. It will probably dry out and, if it doesn’t, will provide the perfect position for the photo of our wedding day, which could only benefit from the altered viewing angle.
Following my day spent on the ceilings, my back is currently experiencing the kind of rigor normally associated with the guest stars on ‘Silent Witness’ and I have a twitch in my leg like a pulsar. Never mind, the human spirit is a wonderful thing and almost as accommodating as the Scotch variety, of which I am about to partake (to safe levels obviously**) in order to treat my cold – should I ever get one.
Anyway, that is the reason I haven’t been running so far this week – and I almost certainly can’t go out tomorrow as it is forecast to rain… a bit… maybe…
*see also ‘excuses’
**I have a theory that if I weighed twice as much as I do, I could safely drink double the amount. I have taken the batteries out of the scales.