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Wednesday 12 October 2011

Eddie Inspires A Neighbour To Paint His House . . . . But He Catches His Roof Alight!

This Painting and Decorating experience occurred during my first 'stint' at self employment in the 1980s, not long after my first job redundancy.

But first, thank you for your kind comments concerning The Sunday Roast - I suspect many more read my post than commented, which is a shame I think because I would welcome any feedback.  I am very busy right now with an extensive revamp of my study, following a lot of other decorating and garden projects. Mrs Bluelights has an extremely long whip and an even longer 'do-list'.  When sanity returns I intend writing to those kind volunteers who wish to help with the project and I shall write each of you soon. Also I will write to all 'roastees' currently in the oven and wondering when they will be 'cooked' or whether they will end up as burnt offerings..  Hopefully I can do this soon when all the on-going domestic projects are complete.

Now back to the Painting and Decorating project.  I really enjoyed doing this one.  I placed a small advertisement in our local paper and was invited to provide a quotation for painting this huge house - in dire need of extensive repairs and a face lift.  The owner was a 'big wheel' in the electricity industry and to cut the story short a couple of weeks later I arrived at the site with my trusty ladder and equipment.  Boy what a job it turned out to be!!  Just look at that horrible load of rhubarb I had to deal with.  I had already said that the gables should not be reached with a ladder because they were of plaster construction and there are tales of ladders going straight through the plaster and depositing unwitting painters into the attic. What a shock they must have had.

The owner, in his wisdom, obviously took what I said on board and thought he would be helpful.  He arranged to have a scaffolding tower erected so I could reach the gables.  Unfortunately, the window bay projected much too far and consequently the top platform was out of reach of the house.  Plus, there was a very steep slope from the house into the road and the whole thing looked decidedly 'dodgy' - I did not wish to dive into the road accompanied by a scaffolding tower so I had to order some traditional scaffolding, which arrived the next day.  As you can see there are two gables and I christened them Great Gable and Green Gable, after two mountains I have climbed in the Lake District.  The woodwork and plasterwork required a lot of attention. It was hot for the three weeks I was there and it was at the height of the wasp season.  Whole squadrons continually buzzed me all day long when I was high up on the scaffolding.  More that one colony was flying in and out of the tile spaces to what must be at least two nests in the roof space.  The plaster was pitted with little round holes and when I enquired of the owner what these might be he replied that his son regularly shot pigeons with his air rifle.  His son was a long distance lorry driver and was due to return home in a few days.  Here is another photo after I had repaired some woodwork and applied some primer to Great Gable. I had sealed the tiles with cement as well so the little blighters could not get in or out of the roof - eventually they 'buzzed off'.
The house was very interesting.  Inside the area of the smaller gable was a beautiful music room with a fabulous stereo system and a huge grand piano which I was fortunate to play a few times.  The owner liked Scott Joplin and I still have the tapes he let me copy and I was inspired to buy  three Scott Joplin Ragtime music books.  I still have a go at them sometimes today - all great fun. 

Anyway, back to the story after that short digression.  I was minding my own business, concentrating on my work and as happy as a sand boy when I looked up and saw some thick black smoke emanating from a house a hundred yards or so up the road.  Then I heard the familiar sound of a fire engine, or was it two? By then the fire had taken a real hold and huge flames were leaping into the air from the roof.  I could hear the crackle and pop of the fire and wondered how it had started.  Fortunately the fire brigade managed to get the fire under control.  I soon had my answer - the unfortunate owner apparently had been inspired by my efforts and he decided to go up his ladder with a blow lamp with the intention of stripping off flaking paint before painting the house himself.  The felt caught fire immediately - what a plonker!! What had he between those two ears doing a 'daft' thing like that.  Eventually all was quiet but I bet his Mrs was far from quiet for a long time.

Half way through repairing the plasterwork I arrived one morning to see some fresh air rifle pellets embedded in my work. It was that gun happy son shooting pigeons again. I blew a fuse and marched to see the owner who was very apologetic but remarked that his son was not quite normal - boy I do pick 'em don't I. I remember saying I hoped his son did not mistake me for a wood pigeon.  It seems his father managed to prevent any further transgressions so I managed to finish the work on the scaffolding and move on to other areas. At that time I had not purchased my triple extension ladder and had to make do with a double which was not quite long enough for parts of the job.  I remember building a platform using an old door to tackle the highest reaches of a side elevation. Eddie defies gravity yet again!  I should have been spider man.

The whole job took me about three weeks because there was a lot of work at the back of the property and high up on the side elevations.  Here is the finished job showing all the woodwork repaired  and a glossy look on the new plasterwork.  Notice the stonework was also painted after I had 'sealed' it first.

This story occurred over 30 years ago and I am sure the owner and his wife have departed to pastures new by now.  I was interested to see recently that this same house was for sale and advertised in our local newspaper.  I very much doubt whether my handy work would have lasted that long but it did look exactly the same as when I finished it. You never know - it may have lasted! Could it I wonder? Nay, it probably had been repainted two or three times I would think.


  1. oh man on the fire...what an inspiration you make me think of my dad, he being an architect and me growing up driving by and having them all pointed out to me...smiles.

  2. armed and dangerous lad. Eddie!
    But...I pause and sigh when I think of you playing the piano...and thinking how much fun that must have been.
    This is a lovely home. You did great work on it!
    Another smile as I read about the fire...and the ensuing quiet after the fire. I can only imagine....
    Smiles to you, my friend.

  3. "You never know - it may have lasted!"

    Well, let's just assume it did. And now the story has lasted with it. I do enjoy your blog, sir.

  4. Wow I sure wouldn't want to encounter you when doing my house up:)) But you did make me laugh with your story;)

  5. A photo of you in a Spider Man outfit was the only thing missing here in your post! hahaha.

    What a charming home! But my oh my, you did have a time there, didn't you! The end results are beautiful...can't believe the neighbor and the fire! lol...

  6. Wow, and yes, you sure do know how to pick em' Eddie! LOL So glad the gun- happy son didn't mistake you for a wood pigeon and that the neighbor's "plonker" didn't burn his house down! LOL Another interesting story and great job on the house!

  7. Sounds to me like I am very lucky to still have a brother! That painting episode sounded really dangerous!
    I wouldn't be surprised if the gable paint was the original!
    I immediately thought of *Anne of Green Gables*! I loved that book as a child.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  8. I couldn't get up to the first level!!! Spider man for sure!!

  9. I'd like to think your good work lasted. It's a gorgeous house.
    xo jj

  10. Eddie, you have the BEST stories here! I'm glad you found a way to get rid of those awful wasps - too bad you couldn't do the same for the gun happy son ;)

    Do you think you might offer some audio of you playing ragtime music??!? I do love Joplin =-)

  11. Nice job, Eddie, both on the house and on this piece. Maybe I missed mention of it before, or I've just plain forgotten, but I didn't recall you saying you played the piano. Next time I have a go at putting together a musical piece with contributions from bloggers (as I did on my 54th birthday) I'll have to have you plunking some keys!

  12. There was I getting over excited when I read that you were an accomplished painter and decorator then I realised that you were talking about 30 years ago! Drat now I will have to find someone else.

  13. I too was going to say 'silly old bugger at your age!' Great stuff, I get dizzy standing on a chair when a mouse runs across the room!

  14. You obviously took pride in delivering a quality finished product. Your stories about past clients are very interesting. In a way, it is a good thing you are so busy these days; way better than sitting around with nothing to do. You could thank your wife for keeping an ongoing honey-do list just to help keep you out of trouble. Ha.

  15. Hi Eddie,

    I've mentioned your post over at my place.


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