A Day in The Life Of . . .


A Good Day, 18 August 2005

Today was a good day. I achieved my targets, had a period of peaceful contemplation and an enjoyable dinner.

My targets were modest, to buy a kitchen mixer tap which was on special offer at LIDL, and to varnish my top floor and middle floor balconies.

A few days ago I visited a DIY superstore, full of fancy kitchens, bathrooms and expensive DIY tools, to buy some paint. While there I checked out the kitchen mixer taps. Mine has been knackered for about 3 years. In spite of regularly replacing washers, and the complete innards, a few weeks after any repair the hot water was always reduced to the dribble of a pensioner with a prostate problem. In this store the mixer taps started at £35, for something which would look good in a garage, and climbed to over £100 for something that your average office lass wouldn't want to have disgracing her kitchen. So when this LIDL special offer came up, starting today, a mixer tap for £14.99 I thought that I'd hit the jackpot. It looked equivalent to, or better than, the £75-£95 taps in the DIY superstore. To me it was adequate and inexpensive. It's all about functionality and cost effectiveness, bugger the latest trendy designs. So I was up early, and in spite of having to fight dozens of other sad old guys like me, I managed to get one of these taps, along with some cheap cider and flour for baking bread.

This put me in a good mood for the big job of the day, varnishing the balconies. Two days ago I spent six hours with a wire brush scraping the skin off my knuckles, and brushing some old paint from my wooden balconies. This reinforced what I've always known, I'm not cut out for hard work. Give me an interesting, urgent computer job and I'll work 14 hours a day 8 days a week with a smile, alas you can't rub down and varnish balconies on a computer.

Yesterday I varnished my top floor balcony. It was all awkward places to paint, back breaking or on my hands and knees. They were the easy bits. For half of it I had to stand on the hand rail of the balcony below. There was no 'Health & Safety Act' scaffolding, just me climbing on to the hand rail and hanging on to the sticky, freshly painted, loose fence posts while I painted them. That was the safe bit. I'd regularly have to walk along the hand rail carrying paint, brush, hammer without a spare hand to hang on. Getting onto, and off, the balcony was equivalent to what would have been classified as V.S. (Very Severe), climb in my student days. To be honest, I rather enjoy doing the standing of the handrail trick. It looks impressive to the neighbours. When I'm working on the middle floor balcony and standing on the bottom fence it looks risky. When I work on the top floor balcony and stand on the middle floor handrail it looks dangerous. When I clear the gutters standing on the third floor handrail it looks suicidal. I suppose this in my party piece for all the neighbours to see.

Anyhow that was yesterday, and I survived. Today was just a long slog. I finished off painting the middle balcony and did a second coat on the top balcony. Between balconies, with a coffee in my hand, I swaggered around the marina to a neighbour who was replacing his ground floor fence, told him how he should do it, then loaned him my new super-saw. I was an admiral talking to a cadet. He's O.K., he feeds the marina swans, and recently when a swan swallowed some fishing line we worked to together to try and save it. It's now nearly dark and he's still out there working. It's five hours since I gave up for the day and hit internet, beer, then wine.

When I finished I was feeling pretty good. After checking my email I had a snooze in the marina garden, right beneath my freshly painted balconies. Every now and again I'd wake up, feed the moorhens that were picking around my feet, look up at the balconies and think what a wonderful guy I was, and wonder how the whole world didn't realise what a wonderful guy that I was ;-)



As early evening approached, and the sun was near to sinking below the yard-arm I felt that I deserved a beer. I deliberately chose weak beer as the sun wasn't quite below the yard-arm. I was content and satisfied. I was mellow. I hadn't made a miilion dollars or changed the course of the world but I felt I'd achieved my targets. The moorhens and their chicks were running around my feet, there were big carp swimming just a few feet away in the marina and I had some superb Northumbrian traditional music discreetly playing away in the background. Could George Bush on his big ranch, hiding away from Cindy Sheehan, could Tony Blair, brown-nosing any influential international free-holiday/hospitality-giver, be happier, No Way!

Eventually I had to shake myself out of my self-satisfied contentment and make some dinner. The problem was that I wasn't hungry. I picked few of the beans that were growing up from my marina garden to my balconies and boiled them. And that was pretty much it. My dinner was a plate of freshly-picked beans with butter, then cheese, both with home-baked bread, then some melon with which to finish off, all with a glass, or two, of wine to wash it down.

I have to admit I got it wrong on two key issues. When I made the bread I did two loaves and forgot where I was with the salt. One loaf had no salt and the other a double measure. My loss was the moorhen's gain ;-) I also got it wrong with the wine. I was determined to finish of an opened bottle of red wine, when white was what was required. It's a hard life ;-)





A Day in The Life Of . . .


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