I haven't got a photo of me 'tearing my hair out', which would be entirely appropriate for this post, so I am using this to illustrate my Painting and Decorating stories. I am working on the photo LOL.
Last time I started recalling some of my hilarious Painting and Decorating experiences. Very frustrating at the time but they always get a laugh and Chris and I shall always remember them. Last week we met a very weird regional bank manager who was seeking perfection in this very imperfect world. Since that post a flood of other experiences have surfaced from my aging memory banks of my cerebellum, so I thought I had better chronicle them before I lose many more grey matter cells. For those who missed last week if you want a laugh have a look see, but come back to this after because this character is something else. LOL
This time I am introducing a lady who was in her mid 70s when we worked for her on three occasions. She is a rather small and fragile lady, very intelligent and she possesses some very strange mannerisms. She speaks with a very pronounced and rather posh British accent, so you can imagine what she sounds like when you get to the dialogue. She was a typical boffin and worked for some sort of government office and had a very good job we imagined plus a good pension. She is still alive and I see her sometimes in my local travels but I always try to avoid her if I can because, boy, she just talks the hind legs off a donkey and once she 'grabs' you it is VERY difficult to get away from her. I suppose she must be 85 now. I shall call her Miss C. She is a spinster and a retired scientific geographer . . . . . and she is absolutely weird . . . . it is totally understandable why she was and always has been . . . . a Miss. She is quite a character and deserves two posts I think. First, I am recalling our last job Chris and I did for her about 10 years ago. I shall post our first encounter next time.
By this time we knew Miss C quite well and were used to her rather strange behaviour. This time our objective was to decorate her lounge/diner and, boy, what a logistics operation that turned out to be. Our initial brief was to paint her windows, comprising two outward openers and a vent opener with the specific request NOT to open the windows and to use paint which had no odour whatsoever, since her sinuses might be affected adversely. LOL. I looked at Chris and we tried hard not to laugh. I said this might present a problem because not all the window surfaces would be painted if we did as she asked. She replied that she NEVER opened the windows since she did not like fresh air as it adversely affected her lungs and it would be OK if we painted round the surfaces. Chris said the windows might become stuck if we did that to which she replied that this did not matter as they would NEVER be opened again. We told her that modern day paints were relatively odour free and we usually did an undercoat and a top coat. "Oh don't do that!", she said, "I could not bear the smell of paint for two days instead of one! Wait until I go out to the shops and could one of you paint using one coat gloss while the other follows with my hair drier to make it dry quicker?" We knew from past experience it was futile to argue with her and much as we detested using that awful one coat gloss paint since it is absolutely no good at all, we agreed. The net curtains were dreadful. I think they had been there unwashed since she moved in sometime during the1970s.
Now to part 2 of the brief!! She requested that since there was so many books and belongings in both rooms, could we decorate in two halves so it would be easier to move things about. We had to wallpaper as well as paint the woodwork and we could see it was going to be a logistical nightmare. We looked around and thought, what a load of junk!! In fact there were books and scientific papers scattered all over the place, including a huge print out of raw data she used for her Ph.D in the 60's. This was dated from the early days of main frame computers. Boy, it was still there on the floor, two foot high and gathering dust. I bet she never even looks at it.
We started in the dining area and managed to clear all the books and the dust was dreadful. We thoroughly cleaned everything and washed it all down and when it had dried we started rubbing down the woodwork, as we normally do, to provide a good 'key' for the paint. "What ARE you doing? You are creating loads of dust which is affecting my sinuses!". We answered that we were just giving it a light rub down and we would vacuum it as soon as we have finished. "Kindly STOP this NOW! I cannot breathe!". I pointed out that we had dealt with a vast amount of dust when cleaning the books and book case. "That is different!", she said, "that is MY dust which is OK but I cannot tolerate YOUR dust!".
I whispered to Chris, "Boy, what the hell have we got here!"
He said, "Put the kettle on Miss C and while you are doing it we shall vacuum up and the dust will be gone."
"Boy, what the heck do we do now?" we thought.
We asked her if she had any shopping to do and she said, "Yes". We said, "Why don't you do it NOW so we can get this over and done with?" She said, "Yes, on the proviso that one of you uses my hair drier to make that invasive odour dry more quickly! It is repugnant and irritating to my eyes, nose and throat. I shall have to dose myself with throat lozenges."
"Should I open the window to let some more air in? That might dilute the smell for you . . . . and while we are at it we could paint all the window surfaces for you! They should be dry by morning!", I said.
"I am declining your suggestion on two counts", she replied, " First there would be a security problem with windows being open all night, and second as I mentioned before I do not like fresh air!"
"But you have been outside sitting in it for 2 hours this afternoon", I said, "Remember, you actually returned to say you felt better!"
"Now look - I like fresh air when I want and I also dislike fresh air when I want - kindly acceded to my wishes and directives!"
We thought, "Why doesn't she talk properly?" . . . . and, "Which century does she spring from?". . . . . but I still managed to reply, "Yes Miss C. We shall always strive to acquiesce!" (There! I know a few big words too! you silly bovine creature! LOL)
All through the job it was like banging our heads against a brick wall. This type of conversation continued, on and off, for days and the job actually took us three times as long as it should have to complete. She wasn't cantankerous all the time, but she did waste a lot of our time as well because she just loved debating issues of the day, particularly scientific ones, and several times she kept us from our work for hours. Honest we thought sometimes it would be quicker to read "The decline and fall of the Roman Empire" than to have coffee with her. She invited us to call her Hilary, which we did, but we had to be firm with her a few times about getting back to work. Deep down she was quite a likeable person who always said she wanted to be invited onto the captain's table when she was on her twice yearly Mediterranean Cruises. She never succeeded - I wonder why.
All things considered we were very pleased when the job was finished . . . . and yes, the windows were painted with the windows shut! Oh! who cares!! I am sure no-one will ever know! A new inhabitant would have them 'whipped out' and fit new UPVc double glazed replacements - hopefully buying through me! Yes, I am an agent for a local company.
I'll explain some more of her funny antics and hang ups next time.