I don't know about you but Christmas seems to come round with ever increasing frequency, making me wonder where does time go? I think time seems to accelerate as we get older for some unknown reason . I remember when I was in business my retired customers always said, "I don't know how I ever had time to go to work!" . . . . . and this I am finding is true.
However, back to Christmas, we are all ready for it and have our tree assembled yet again with all the lights working and baubles hanging, even though it seems like yesterday I was doing the exact same job:
. . . . . . . . . . . and all the Christmas Cards from friends and relatives are on display in our conservatory, which is wonderful.
I have always had certain thoughts about the way Christmas is going but this year these thoughts are even more pronounced in that our entire country appears to have forgotten, or more likely chosen not to remember, just what we are celebrating and what is the true meaning of Christmas. The ghost of my Christmas Past paints a very different picture to the spectre of Christmas Present, in which we live today, and I for one am most fearful of the coming ghost of Christmas Future. Why do I say this, and what is my point, you may wonder? Simply that for over 20 years I have noticed rampant 'commercialism' marching ever onwards until it has almost eclipsed the true meaning of Christmas. Why our very economy demands that this is so, with a necessity for increased Christmas and the New Year sales which must be better year on year. Failure to achieve this they say would cause shops to 'go bust', rising unemployment and yet another severe recession. Surely something is wrong somewhere!
I do not pretend to be saint and all those who know me are certain I wear no halo, but my Christmas Past takes me to a much nicer world, where most families at least tried to honour what Christmas is and should be, yet today we live in a secular society in which these things no longer matter.
I am beginning to wonder whether Scrooge may have been a little correct when he said, "Humbug" to Christmas. I say 'a little correct' because I actually agree with him in part and I say, "Humbug" to the commercial side of Christmas. It seems that millions upon millions of people buy presents for people year after year when they don't really want to do it, Further, the recipients also buy presents for the senders when they also don't really want to do it but feel they have to even though both parties cannot in truth afford to spend hundreds of pounds on Christmas presents if they were totally honest. It is quite comical that when we forget to buy a present for X and out of the blue X actually sends one to Y panic sets in and Y rushes to the shops and expends a great deal of energy with soaring stress levels to find one in time to buy it, wrap it, parcel it and post it first class that very day or it will be perceived by X that Y is a miserable and stingy old fart. Well perhaps that is overstating things and don't get me wrong I think to exchange presents to immediate family is perfectly OK but it is overdone when extended to all and sundry. And so people continue to run up excessive borrowing on their credit cards and many cannot repay the debt. Perhaps it might be an idea for more people to get together and agree to cut down their present sending but no-one wants to be the first to say it and so this situation goes on in the same way, year after year.
Oh dear you now think I an Ebeneezer and not Eddie LOL. Well, I might have over stated things a little but I am sure you get my drift, and I feel I have made my point.
Still on Christmas, I do hope the 'hierarchy' in Heaven have a keen sense of humour - I am certain they have so I feel you might be amused by this Christmas card I received this year from a relative who said, "When I saw the card I immediately thought of you, Eddie!" Gee, thanks Andy, I am not entirely sure how to take this one! LOL
So now you know, including all my celebrated cook book friends, why Turkey is always on the Christmas menu LOL.
Finally, Mrs Bluelights and I recently received the very best Christmas present anyone could wish for. It was simply a letter from her Oncology Consultant explaining the results of her last CT scan. The letter reads:
"Your recent scan has now been reported and I am pleased to be able to tell you that it strongly suggests that the Arimidex is continuing to work well for you. Certainly there is absolutely no evidence of any progression of your cancer and if anything the appearances are a little improved compared with the previous scan back in August 2009. This is all very encouraging and I am sure it is very sensible to continue with your present treatment."
This is wonderful news and we are very fortunate that many people ALL OVER THE WORLD, including all my lovely blogging friends, are praying for her continuously. Mrs Bluelights has been fighting breast cancer for 15 years and even though three years ago this spread to secondary bone cancer, it seems she is more than holding her own against this dreadful disease. Not many people have this degree of prayer help and we are most grateful to all of you. I am certain God has answered these prayers with a resounding 'Yes'. My thanks are extended also to all my non believing blogging friends and I am certain that their good wishes have been effective and contributed to her well-being as well. Thank you all so very, very much.
In conclusion Mrs Bluelights and I wish you ALL a very Happy Christmas.
We all know Christmas in this day and age is way over the top from a commercial standpoint - it has been so for years and regrettably the main focus of Christmas has been eclipsed by presents, greed, holidays, in fact everything other than what Christmas should be about.
Not more so than this year. Of course this story, featured in newspapers and media throughout the UK, does have a funny side but in a way it is rather shocking.
I was dumb stuck when I heard this story on our local radio. But of course it tickled my sense of humour too.
Ahh! Poor Santa is crying
A 13 year old girl wrote an ultimatum letter to Father Christmas demanding at least two expensive presents on her list and warned him that if he failed to deliver she would kill him. Further, she threatened to hunt down his beloved reindeer, cook them and serve them to homeless people on Christmas day. (Well at least she was thinking of less fortunates LOL). Her mother was amazed at first but vowed to meet her daughter's demands, saying, "You don't want to get the wrong side of Mekeeda!" However, she continued that it would be rather difficult to satisfy her daughter's wish to have the real live Justin Bieber in her Christmas stocking.
Here is her letter in full.
This Christmas I don't ask for much so if I don't get at least two of the things I want I will literally KILL you. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? Oh! also I'll hunt down your reindeers, cook them and serve their meat to homeless people on Christmas day. Nobody wants that. So here is what I want
A Blackberry Austin Mahone or Justin Beiber (real) Money Laura Knitted 33 Jumper High Top Converter
Remember two of these or you DIE Love From Makeeda Austin xxxxxx
Notice the affection she displays to Santa when she signs off "Love From" and even gives him some kisses before she plunges the knife in.
There were other items on the list but her hand writing was not clear so I could not read them and so I omitted them. I do hope Santa was able to read her demands or else he might be in grave danger. I hope he has a reliable pair of glasses from SpecSavers. She addressed the letter to Santa, Lapland, North Pole, so he is bound to receive it.
Shaking for reasons other than the cold Santa was observed to have modified his usual Christmas saying this year to, "No, No, No!" and he is considering employing Security guards to accompany him to ride shotgun when delivering presents throughout the cosmos. He is considering kidnapping Justin Beiber in order to protect himself and says if he is arrested he will plead Self Defence.
Tracy, her mother said, "We can't have her killing Santa can we so I had better let her have what she wants".
She continued, Mekeeda is such a lovely girl but can be very demanding. She is energetic and has to burn off all her excess energy playing sports or she can be hyperactive when she gets home. She is the life and soul of the party - there is never a dull moment when she is around so we can forgive her for being a bit of a diva."
I wonder whether her mother's secret wish this year to Santa is for him to give this young lady a long overdue good spanking.
Whilst on the subject of Santa for those who missed it I wrote an article two years ago describing in great detail how he managed to deliver so many presents in such a small time-frame on Christmas Eve whilst consuming vast amounts of Sherry, kissing lots of Mummies under the mistletoe and managing to climb up and down chimneys at the speed of light. See HERE to read How Does Santa Do It?
Now that seems a very strange and difficult question to answer and you may be wondering what caused me to ask it. Well, my reason for asking it was prompted when early one morning I saw this image projected on a wall in our hallway. I knew immediately from where it emanated - 30 feet away from some new windows we had installed recently in our conservatory.
I snapped the shot which I thought was interesting. Throughout the week we had noticed several such rainbows in many places, caused by the sun's rays being refracted just like a prism on striking the windows. My mind recalled the famous acronym I learnt at school when white light entering a prism is split into all the colours of the rainbow.
Richard Of York Gave Blood In Vain
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet
But windows panes are not prisms - they are just even sheets of glass, surely! Not so these:
. . . . . . and another shot from the inside:
Ah!! yes . . . . . . you now know the answer to the question when is a window a prism? When it has a bevel in it of course, and there are now 9 bevels shapes in 3 fanlight windows we had installed. The sunlight strikes the bevel and acts just like a prism, and because there are 9 bevelled diamonds the phenomena causes rainbow images to appear in interesting shapes. The images move too as the Earth rotates, which is a bit eerie. I can't wait for the summer when we get more sun. But I hope the bevels do not act as magnifying glasses as well - remember using magnifying glasses when we were kids when we wanted to start fires in the garden, using the sun's rays on a sheet of paper?
The original three fanlight windows all had to be replaced because the seals had broken inside the double glazed units, causing a misty film which happens when such windows eventually break down. I am an agent for a local window company so they fitted them for me two weeks ago.
Oh and just in the background of the last shot we can see my blue tit box - but no blue tit this time. We see them frequently but they are flitting about all over the place and sometimes don't return for a few days. Here is a close up shot of the bird house with the new bevel diamond showing refraction of the vegetation:
I'm still very busy these days but I managed to get a great camera shot of a Blue Tit bird this morning whilst it was investigating my bird box.
In fact there were three birds 'flitting' around, presumably site seeing the local property market. They all seemed interested in this renovated bird box on which I had worked during the summer. One bird in particular appeared fascinated with it and I presumed it was the male. His companions, which I judged to be females, did not venture quite as close as he to the entrance since it is not yet the breeding season. So he will not be trying to entice a female just yet, but no doubt he will be practising his sweet talking chat up lines over the winter months.
I watched him go in and out a few times but the ladies seemed reluctant to enter just yet, perhaps turning their noses up at the property and wanting a better one with hot and cold running water, an en suite, solar panels, a dish washer and all the mod cons. I detected also a little animosity between the other two birds, which is why I was prompted to think they might be females. My imagination was kindled and I pictured a humorous clash between the two jealous females competing for this attractive gentleman. One might have said to the other, "Now listen lady, and listen good - that man is taken!". The other might have replied, "Oh really! he didn't tell me that, so obviously he hasn't decided yet, has he?". The first and more aggressive one might retort angrily. "Hey! Now listen again lady. There are two things I never share. The first is my toothbrush, the second is my man. Now back off!"
Whichever lady he might eventually choose I imagined this poor little fellow might have his work cut out to convince his would-be mate that this property is a highly desirable detached one bedroom residence, complete with bird bath/swimming pool, and situated in a very select area near a good secondary modern school. And boy, you can't ask for much more than that. Further, the property has been revamped during the summer months and has a new roof, complete with lead flashing. Whatever you do don't tell the magpies! Further, would you believe, this little gem of a house has been furnished with a nice coat of paint, both externally and internally - what more could any bird want?
Still, there's no way of pleasing every female, some of whom seem decidedly choosy. Take a tip from me fellow, work on your Buff Bod, get into shape, develop your Wit and your Charm and forget about the house - then they'll come flocking to you..
On a more serious note during the summer I dismantled the box and gave it a thorough clean inside and out because two years ago we did not have Blue Tits nesting there but some very strange visitors. You may remember we had a nest of Bumble Bees residing at the same address.
"Not a pretty sight, honey", thought the Blue Tits that year, so they missed out big time on five star accommodation.
A breeding pair of Blue Tits did return early last year, beating the Bumble Bees back to the scene, completely out manoeuvring them by exercising early squatting rights. Once they had taken up residence an angry Queen Bumble Bee returned and seemed determined to repossess the property and we saw a battle royal ensue - with both birds repeatedly dive bombing the bee who eventually gave up and went elsewhere. Well done Blue Tits. Hooray!
Those brave little birds had something else to contend with as well because higher up, attached to the house wall, a pair of Great Tits then took up residence and built their nest in my larger bird box which I actually built for sparrows. I have had Great Tits nesting there regularly but to date no sparrows. Great Tits are larger than Blue Tits and usually bully them and chase them away. Not so last year, I am pleased to say. Here's a shot I took of a Great Tit entering his or her abode.
It is very strange and rare that both species seemed to tolerate each other last year - normally they are both very possessive regarding their territories, particularly the Great Tits. But the Blue Tits had got there first and after they had won their battle against the Queen Bumble Bee they were determined to stand their ground against the Great Titsl. It seems that both species were situated on the edges of their agreed territories, with the Blue Tits flying out of their box in a Westerly direction and the Great Tits in an Easterly direction, so they stayed out of each others way. I've never seen this situation before, or read about it, but I am hoping for a repeat situation this coming season.
I did purchase a handy camcorder so I could capture some of last season's activity on video. Unfortunately both sets of birds had flown the nest the very day I had planned to film them. I was rather disappointed and annoyed but never mind I am ready for them this year.
During the summer I cleaned out the bird nests - birds will not nest in boxes with existing nests in them. Part of the courtship ritual is to build a nest together, so they are not in the least interested in furnished properties.
Also during the summer I cleaned out a lot a 'rubbery' residue from the previous year when the Bumble Bees had taken possession. It was a nasty, sticky mess. I took the whole thing apart and rebuilt it and incorporated a new roof. I'll write more when the birds nest and try to get some video clips.
I am a bit busy right now so I cannot post anything new just yet. However I would like you to read one of my earlier posts, written over two years ago and titled, Funeral For A Wonderful Lady
I was deeply moved by the death of this lady who had been a true friend of the family for 50 years. She had a fantastic send off from Planet Earth by a congregation of over 400 who obviously agreed with me that this lady was very special.
Please press HERE to see it and please make a comment on the original when you get there. I would value your input since this is one of my rare serious posts.
I hope to be able to resume posting and visiting soon.
I thought I'd give you an update on my health following my total hip replacement in February 2010. So it is 2 years next February since I went under the knife, electric saw, chisel, hammer, electric drill, nails, glue and goodness knows what else. I have covered all this in previous posts, including the Deep Vein Thrombosis and treatment I experienced shortly after the operation - all now long gone and behind me..
I did recover very well and quickly, to an extent, but I did not realise fully that a complete recovery would take a lot longer than I would like to admit, being a rather impatient individual. Folks, it is a big operation and the surgery knocks the body about something rotten - particularly affecting the lower legs and feet. It is strange that even the leg not operated on seemed to swell just as much as the one which experienced the actual surgery. Very strange.
So why am I writing about all this now?
Well, I have felt very well for over a year now and have regained my strength and stamina, thus enabling me to undertake quite strenuous activity, like in the summer when I worked on some major garden projects.
Gosh! What a brute this equipment is - it sliced through concrete like butter! I shall write all about these projects in due course. I doubt whether they used this monster on my hip but there were plenty of power tools used from the Black and Decker range, I am sure.
So after about 9 months I was very able to undertake hard physical work but very recently I think for the first time my legs and feet seem to have returned to their normal size. I can now wear my normal shoes but in particular I am delighted to report that I am able to get my feet into my favourite gardening Wellington Boots. Of course you may be wondering why on Earth would I want to wear those awful "passion killers" and not something more becoming and striking like tight black Cowboy Boots.
Hmmm! I see what you mean!!
For a start if I did wear tight black Cowboy Boots most people around here would consider me stark raving bonkers. My point simply is I am delighted to have normal sized feet again and my green Wellington Boots are proof that this has occurred. Also, equally pleasing, is that my black Ambulance Boots fit me once again but alas not for Ambulance duty since I am retired from the service.
Several bloggers did ask if I would add a Video YouTube of a Total Hip Replacement so you can see what a hammering I actually received. I did try to find a video showing all the surgical procedures but this one was the best I could find. My apologies for the picture being blocked out by the theatre staff sometimes.
"Was it worth it?", you may be wondering. "Overwhelmingly, yes! The pain has gone, I have full mobility, It feels as though I have never had a problem and I feel great, but most of all I can wear my green Wellington Boots again. If ANYONE out there is worried about the surgery and experiencing severe Arthritic pain like I did, then please go ahead and get it done! You will get your life back, but it will take 18 months, plus, to fully recover.
So here is the YouTube, Watch it if you dare LOL, and think of poor Eddie under the knife. The chap, Greg, seemed to have had worse Arthritis than I had but I was well and truly confined to a walking stick. Imagine it!! An Ambulanceman with a walking stick!! No wonder I could not carry on with it.
Soon I shall return to my Painting and Decorating stories with a few Ambulance stories thrown in as and when I think of them.
Meanwhile The Sunday Roast is still on hold until I can devote more time to the column. I am very grateful to those friends who have offered assistance and I shall be contacting you in due course. Thank you again.
Today something rather different! I have made my first Video for BlogLand. Hope you enjoy it.
Well, I hope you enjoyed that! I expect a number of you knew how to do this already.
With all these spinsters and batchelors it is a wonder the whole family did not die out on that side of the clan. Considering all those unmarried brothers and sisters, some already departed before this story, it is fortunate that my grandfather produced a son, my father. From then my father was the last of the clan but he married and Maggie arrived first, then me. I was then the last in line but married and had a daughter and a son, who is currently the last in line. Go for it, son - but get things in the right order first LOL.
My elderly relations were, as I said, rather strange. They had a good sense of humour, except my grandfather, who was rather grumpy. I wonder where I get mine? I suppose Auntie Madge was the liveliest out of a rather dreary bunch but unfortunately they were all extremely stingy - I cannot recall being given a penny piece. I remember one particular occasion when my parents were very amused when their purses were not opened yet again - had they done so I suppose a plentiful supply of moths might have flown everywhere. This example of the worst case of 'stingyism', or should I say stinginess, I have ever known was the occasion of a relative's silver wedding anniversary. It is usual and fitting to send a present made from silver for a Silver Wedding Anniversary - not so with my elderly relatives! Their solution was to send a jar of Silver Shred marmalade LOL. I am not sure how the present was received or whether they ever spoke to my elderly relatives again..
I am having a short break from Painting and Decorating stories so we step into my time machine and travel 15-20 years into the future. I had just joined a private ambulance company as an ACA/driver which did very nicely for me as a run up to my retirement. Before any of us can be let loose with patients in any way whatsoever the basic requirement is a four day intensive First Aid course, and that is for starters, even to allow us to undertake routine patient transport. After that we progress to more in house courses like the First Responder Course and if anyone wants to progress in the A and E area the training is very intensive, culminating with a Paramedic qualification. I was a 'oldie' and there was no point in me having aspirations which were unrealistic, considering I was nearing retirement, so I struck with First Aid and First Responder courses plus any relevant in house course the company considered necessary. I attended a four day residential Drive 1 course in Cornwall which qualified me to drive any ambulance up to police driving standards, but not using Blue Flashing Lights and Sirens for A and E work. That required additional training as a Drive 2 Emergency Driver for Accidents and Emergency driving. I remember teasing someone who had just passed her Drive 2 and said that she would do in an emergency if they couldn't find anyone else! She loved it and laughed her head off.
Anyway back to the story. The venue for the four day First Aid course was ex house and our trainer was a lovely lady called Dianne. She was a very efficient trainer and fortunately she had an extremely good sense of humour. I loved studying First Aid. We paired up as twos and took it in turns to practice resuscitation to an unconscious but breathing patient and then rolling them over into the recovery position. My partner was Pam, who had started work on the same day I did. For obvious reasons we could not use live partners for an unconscious and non-breathing patient. Instead we used manikins and practiced CPR, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, where the requirement was to get them on their backs, apply two breaths into their mouth and then 30 quick compressions to help pump oxygenated blood round their bodies and notably to the brain, and keep doing this until emergcy services arrive. Several of my friends have saved people doing this which is marvellous. There is a lot of residual oxygen in the lungs of an unconcious non breathing patient, in fact 16%, as opposed to 20% in normal air and freshly breathed into the lungs, so it is possible to keep oxygenated blood circling for a while. However the success rate of a full recovery is just 6% unfortunately. One chap on the training course forgot he had to use a manikin and started to practice on his lady partner, whom he did not even know before that day. This caused a high degree of amusement and uproar.
Here is a manikin just like the ones we used:
This guy is applying 30 firm chest compressions
During the second day, Dianne was dealing with eye injuries and the requirement to apply an antiseptic solution to wash any harmful grit or similar intrusions away from the affected eye. We were asked if we could suggest appropriate solutions which may be available in a First Aid situation. Various suggestions were made, all of which were entirely acceptable and then I put up my hand and was invited to offer my idea. I said, jokingly, "This morning you said, 'Never knock urine, it is a powerful and effective anti-septic' , so why not urine?". The whole class, including Dianne, went into hysterics with Dianne acting, "Excuse me patient, do you mind if I pee into your eye?".
Next day we progressed to shock and why it is necessary for a shocked patient to always lie down. Shock simply is lack of oxygen to the brain, which normally takes 30% of all oxygen in our bodies. This explains why invariably we feel sick when in shock. The stomach hates not having an adequate blood supply and if that falls short it's contents are rapidly expelled in vomit. And vomitting is so dangerous for any breathing unconsious person and there is a vital reason why they have to be put in a recovery position. There is a real possibility if they are left on their backs they may vomit and this may be inhaled. Vomit is very acidic and corrosive and would certaining dissolve lung tissue and causae death - even in small quantities. By placing patients on their side all vomit can drain out of their mouths. During shock a lot of blood is diverted to the greedy brain. Nature's way of dealing with this is to fall down and lie down and that is the correct First Aid procedure. To assist further more blood is diverted to the brain if the feet are elevated. Gosh! haven't I remembered it all well? Hope you are interested!
Anyway with all that on board the following afternoon we were taught about head injuries and if the patient is in shock as well, then it is more difficult to stop bleeding from the head injury - it's a swings and rounabouts situation. The solution is to raise the head slightly and rest it on the First Aider's knees whilst squatting. This was ably demonstrated by Dianne and a lady pretend patient.
And then Eddie drops an unbelievable unintentional clanger. In front of the entire class, with a girl as the patient lying on the floor with her head on Dianne's folded legs in a sitting position and supporting her head these immortal words gushed from Eddie's mouth:
"It's surprising what difference an extra 6 inches makes!"
Oh! to find a big hole to fall into. The whole place errupted into a sea of laughter! The patient's shoulders immediately started to shake as she laughed. Dianne roared uncontrollably. All the men were splitting their sides and the ladies shrieked. OMG how embarrassing!! I even thought I saw a manikin have a little giggle. The whole class was ruined for at least five minutes and Dianne was not able to resume her teaching without breaking into laughter yet again. Eventually she said she was going to include this in her future classes as an aid to make it more interesting. I quickly requested royalty payments which caused another universal laugh.
Anyway we all passed our course and three years later when I was required to renew my First Aid qualification I attended a refresher course, not run by Dianne, but I saw her and we had a good laugh about the event which caused such hilarity three years previous.
I am reminded that my certificate is about to expire but I do not think I shall renew it because my ambulance days are well and truly over. Oh! Happy memories! LOL
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.
Situations Vacant - The Sunday Roast Chief Exec requires Three Directors
Now you don't see plum jobs like these advertised very often, do you? So please read on and snap them up quick before these opportunities vanish for ever. It's a red hot chance for you to give folk a right royal roasting, just like you've always wanted to. Now I've had a bit of fun doing this post but actually I do require some help, be it large or small. It might appeal to someone out there who has some spare time on their hands, who likes to get their teeth into a project and have loads of fun along the way.
So here is my imaginary job advertisement:
Three Directors Urgently Required to save The Sunday Roast
The current Chief Executive is stepping down to Director level and therefore invites three willing and tireless bloggers to form a team, with him as a fourth equal partner, in order to keep this popular flagship column on track and alive. It is a top class column and it could become very popular.
Applications are welcome from anyone with at least one, or preferably several, of these highly desirable personal qualities:
They must have an outstanding sense of humour and be a bit cheeky
They must be slightly insane, just like Eddie
Must be a masochist and enjoy burning and turning people on the spit
They must have a vivid imagination
They must be witty and charming, just like the existing Chief Executive who is able to charm the birds out of the trees, of course
They must have the ability to extract information from their victims clinically and decisively
They must display a real hunger for running themselves into the ground for the good of the column
They must be capable of identifying, pursuing and relentlessly hunting down their prey when striving to find seemingly reluctant new 'roastees'
(They all end up loving it really but some at first pretend to be a bit shy)
They must be expert inquisitors/ torturers and never let their screaming quarry off the hook until the interview is safely received
They must be able to work well as team players
(Successful candidates will be invited to contribute to and discuss a Business Plan to re-launch the column)
Finally, they must not allow themselves to get despondent when they see few comments on their interview
In addition, it would be desirable for candidates to display willingness to:
Promote The Sunday Roast to the best of their ability throughout BlogLand using their proven Sales and Marketing experience
Suggest and implement new and more effective ways of spreading the good news of The Sunday Roast
(Like Twitter and Facebook etc.)
Successful applicants will be rewarded with this unbelievable remuneration package:
Holiday Entitlement: Nil
Private Health and Accident Insurance: None
Company Car: None
Also wanted: an infinite number of Spies and Scouts
with the specific duty of finding and reporting new roasts. Must have a press-gang type personality to encourage/bully new roasts to participate. Successful applicants could easily grow into the job and become members of the Board of Directors.
. Applications will be seriously considered for brave or foolhardy individuals who wish to make a solo friendly or hostile takeover of the column, seeing themselves as a White Knight in shining armour seated on a fiery steed.
(But take it from me folks, this job is too big for just one, I think)
My fee for transfer of all private equity and hand over of the feature lock, stock and barrel will be as follows, should your application be successful:
If you are a lady - a romantic candle-lit dinner for two at a venue of your choosing, provided you pick up the tab LOL
If you are a man - an unromantic, dinner for two at McDonald's in broad daylight. I'll buy you a hot dog
Seriously folks I just cannot manage to keep it going by myself. I have done over 60 roasts since I took over from David. I am sorry it has all come to a halt - I really enjoyed doing it but I just have not the time anymore. I think it would be great fun if several of us teamed up and shared the work and in that way no one person would be under pressure to get the interviews out week after week. Come on then, step forward, advance and be recognised and let's get this thing on the road again. I have a few ideas as to how we can work together on this, and would invite suggestions from you.
I had to laugh when I heard this story on our local radio station this morning, so I thought you might like a little giggle too. It concerns a youth football match and the almost unbelievable action by the referee when he sent off no less than five players for, wait for it, wearing the wrong coloured underpants. And, get this, the manager was sent off too! No wonder the team lost 6-0.
Here is full the story. Courtesy of The Bath Chronicle newspaper.
A youth game descended into farce after Bath City's youth team had five players and their manager sent off following a row about underpants.
Darren Adie, refereeing the contest against Newport County, contentiously ruled that some of the Bath team's underwear contravened the official rules.
The FA's rule 4 says "if thermal undershorts are worn, they are of the same main colour as the shorts."
Several players fell foul of the ruling, wearing white pants which were visible under the club's red shorts.
That said, the match was 20 minutes old before the issue came to a head.
Defender Billy Cooper was sent off first, with manager Billy Clark following for dissent at the decision, before Ciaran Rogers, Zemell Burton, Ben Bicknell and Lewis Pierre all saw red and were given their marching orders.
Despite that, the Bath Chronicle report that Bath City believe that even after the red cards, there were still players on the pitch on both sides who were technically in breach of the rules but remained on the pitch throughout.
Unsurprisingly, Bath City went on to lose the Youth Cup tie 6-0, with the first goal scored while two of their players were off the field, changing.
Bath City chairman Manda Rigby described the parents who saw the game as "distressed and angry," and said that referee Adie had locked himself in his room after the game. (spoil sport !)
‘"It was farcical - I have never seen anything like it before," she said.
‘"I was in total disbelief."
Bath managing director Paul Williams added: "It was all very surreal. I was angry with the officials.
"Every team has to submit a report about the officials to the FA. Let's just say ours is a very long report."
A spokesman for the FA said it was looking into the incident together with the Welsh FA, who supplied the match officials.
Newport County secretary Mike Everett, meanwhile, said he would not be making a similar complaint about the standard of refereeing. (I wonder why!) "I understand that the initial problem was regarding incorrect undergarments," he said. "The referee made his decisions. There's not a lot I can add." (He might have added, "Thanks ref for helping us to win 6-0")
* * * * * * * * *
Back to me:
Apparently, as I heard on the radio this morning, the team was issued with an away strip minus underpants and the players were expected to provide thermal underwear at their expense. Pity no-one told them which colour to buy - and wasn't the club stingy? Why did they not provide the full kit?
I cannot believe why the ref allowed this to happen. Why did he not inform the players before kick off and not after 20 minutes play? And why bother to do it anyway? It would not have affected play in the slightest.
It would serve the officials right if the team elected to play wearing no underpants and hope their modesty remained intact. I guess it would help them to maintain their modesty if they read my highly popular post, titled "How to remove your underpants without removing your trousers" . But this would in all probability be so exciting that everyone would want to try it, including the referee and the spectators, thus ruining the game further.
Let's hope their next game is not quite so PANTS!
Oh! and just in case you think the chap in the photo is me, like one commenter, who's name shall not be mentioned LOL, well even I would not admit to that LOL. Except, of course, I played rugby, not football LOL.
Have you ever wanted to just crawl into the nearest available hole to hide one's embarrassment? It happened to me and to Mrs Bluelights on separate occasions, courtesy of my dear son, then aged just 3. I step into my time machine and invite you to join me when I recall both events, occurring during my Painting and Decorating days.
I may have mentioned before that although I am not a Catholic I do attend Catholic masses with my family. There are slight differences in basic theological 'fundamentals' which prevent me from signing up, and so I could be described as Church of England, but more accurately a 'Non Dinominational' worshipper, if you get my drift. Anyway, my first story concerns our then local Catholic Priest who had been 'badgering' me for years to 'join the club' but could never understand why my reply was always that I am a member of the broader true 'invisible' church, free from all denominations.
One day we heard, to our dismay, that some youths, who I can only describe as 'Yobbos' had broken into the presbytery the previous evening and terrorised him for a few hours. They had forced the flimsy side door open and easily gained access. They gave him a torrid time but eventually they left and thankfully he was not physically harmed although he was very frightened and worried that they would return to repeat the ordeal. The police were not much use because they simply did not have the man power to constantly keep an eye on the place. I was asked to see what I could do to fortify the entrance to make it impossible for these thugs to regain entrance. I used fence posts inside the existing door and screwed them firmly into the walls, then I screwed sturdy timbers across the frame and I do believe that by the time I finished it the barricade was so strong it would almost stop a tank. The priest was not convinced, however, because after a week he was still worrying, so I was asked to see him again to reassure him that it was completely safe and no-one could get in. He told me that a reinforced wrought iron gate with bars at only 3 inch intervals was due to be fitted the next day and he said he would be completely at ease with that. I thought for a while and given that he was so distraught I suggested I stayed with him that night to keep him company and make him feel safer. He gladly took me up on my offer so I arrived at about 7.30pm and was greeted by a much relieved priest. We sat for a while and then the inevitable happened. He was an Irish Catholic Priest and in true form he produced a large bottle of whiskey which he proceeded to open and poured two generous glasses for us, remarking in 'a by the way' tone that there was water in the jug in case I wanted it, and during the whole course of the evening I never saw him pour any into his glass.
As one might expect the topic of conversation turned to religion. the saints, purgatory and other contentious issues. I did not mind in the slightest because I do study the Bible but remarked that their New Jerusalem version includes "The Apocrypha" which technically is not recognised in the Canon of Scripture at the various church counsels throughout church history. He appeared to enjoy the debate and smiled when I asked him what was the necessity of asking the saints to intervene for us and that I believed in going straight to the top and asking the "Top Man" personally, implying that anything else would suggest that God is not big enough to hear all our pleas and answer them all at once and why would he require a third party. Anyway we carried on like this until about 2am and had 'downed' many glasses between us, with me diluting my share with copious amounts of water and him having all of his neat, much to my amazement. The inevitable conclusion to the evening was that he drank me under the table and I remember remarking to him that if anyone came to trouble him now I would not be of much use. So we agreed to turn in which we did, with me in the guest room. By now my ears had a continuous humming sound from within and the room was spinning, not in a horizontal plane, but a vertical one and that my friends meant one thing, and one thing only - I was about to bring my boots up LOL. I stumbled to the bathroom - thanking God I remembered where it was - and sure enough my prediction was realised and through the haze I managed to congratulate myself on my marksmanship. I did not sleep a wink that night and had a thumping head, the like I had never before experienced. He on the other hand was a bright as a button at the crack of dawn and showed no signs of any hangover whatsoever. He offered me breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, fried bread, baked beans and then toast - all the things I would otherwise have relished, but today I could not even think of it without revisiting the bathroom. So I bade him goodbye and said I would return that evening to see if the new gate was to his satisfaction.
When I returned home, risking a possible drinking and driving charge I might add, Mrs Bluelights was truly amazed at my condition and equally amazed that 'Father' had actually got me into that state. All I could do, holding my head, was to lie down in complete oblivion to any vestige of life - oh for total darkness I longed! LOL. My son was 3 and he obviously heard some of the things Mrs Bluelights had said to me and that evening I made the serious error of taking him along with me to see the priest. Of course the innocent little lad blurted out as soon as we met, "Mummy said you gave Daddy far too much to drink last night!", to which he replied, "He should have used more water!". Oh! my! I did feel embarrassed but no harm was done because he liked the gate and next mass he mentioned there had been a Good Samaritan in our midst and without mentioning my name he thanked me publicly. As I reward he said mass for my Mother and Father who had both departed. I was highly amused by this but took him up on his kind offer.
Now for Mrs Bluelights' turn. A wealthy parishioner, whom I shall call Florinda, knew Mrs Bluelights is of Polish extraction. Florinda explained she had a special guest staying with her who was Polish and would Mrs Bluelights and the family care to join her for afternoon tea. I was working that day but Mrs Bluelights, our daughter and our son did attend but only after our 3 year old son was 'grilled' to be on his very best behaviour since Florinda was a very 'posh' lady. He was told before he said anything to anyone he must first say "Excuse me!" and we practised this with a high level of success before the day. So with confidence the three of them attended the afternoon tea party. The dear little lad was marvellous all afternoon. He was, and still is, a very friendly and social person and was very sensible for a lad of 3. It all went well until he spoke again to Florinda but this time said, "Excuse me!". She said, "Yes! He said, and this caused Mrs Bluelights to want to find a big hole to fall into, "Excuse me! You are not a posh lady at all - you are a very nice one!"
She roared and roared with laughter!! Oh how kids get you into trouble, don't they! He just loves this story now! Upon reflection it was an extremely nice thing for him to say. For a long time we had some fun with this in church - whenever we saw Florinda we said, "Excuse me!" in a little voice before we began a conversation.
Here is my good old faithful triple extension ladder I used for my painting and decorating work. See the wheels at the top? If I wanted to hoist the ladder up further I would simply wheel it up the wall and in this way I could get it up very high without damaging the painting area. Over the years my arms and legs became very strong with moving the ladder all day long and climbing it endlessly - no wonder my hip wore out and well done the other one for surviving so long.
(Like the biceps? Now look, this is not a photoshop job either LOL)
I would never go up a ladder unless I knew it was completely safe and in later years I fitted special rubber swivel feet with a large surface area to give a lot of grip and stability. Loads of painters and window cleaners who saw it were interested and wanted a set and I sent a lot of chaps to the ladder shop to buy some. I was a bit slow there wasn't I? I should have asked the shop for some commission. I could have made a fortune.
(How's that for increased grip?)
In my early days before I fitted the swivel feet I was painting the walls of a large house with exterior brilliant white Weathershield. This house included a chimney, also requiring painting, and it's top was about 40 feet above the ground - Oh Lawdy Me! Another fine mess I got myself into LOL - might be easier walking on water. The back of the chimney was to be reached using my roof ladder. Here it is - now in my garage and not used for a few years and serving very nicely to help to store some of my junk.
Back to the job.
I had to carry this long roof ladder up my ladder and get the wheels onto the roof so I could push it up the tiles until it reached the top. Then I had to turn it over and pull it down the roof until I met resistance - it was now hooked over the tile ridge and ready for me to board. I had to make sure my ladder reached higher than the roof ladder so I could climb onto it from my ladder, carefully remembering which foot went where so I could do the reverse when I came down. We couldn't have me making a 999 call to the Fire Brigade to get me down, could we? Of course I couldn't anyway because this occurred long before we had mobile cell phones. Oh, yes, I had to carry some paint and a roller up as well and use a special bucket which hooked onto the normal ladder or roof ladder. It all sounds like a Buster Keaton movie doesn't it? Well, that was the plan. On this particular occasion I was addressing the outside of the chimney and I was about 35 feet up and my ladder was fully extended. It was a beautiful day, as I remember and I had just cut in all the top brush painting and was about to use the roller. I had my roller pole all ready and I happened to glance at the ladder wheels and got the shock of my life!! The wheels were slowly turning . . . . . . . . . and turning in a . . . . . . help! . . . . . . . in a downward direction. "OMG!" I said to myself, and I had not even got a parachute with me! I thought it could be either that the ladder was sinking or, worst case scenario, the base might be slipping outwards, away from the house. I was worried to say the least! I had to move very, very gently because I feared the latter was the case and if so the wheels would accelerate at a rate I would not appreciate, causing me to travel rapidly in a southerly direction. "Don't panic!", I said to myself. I left paint in the bucket on my ladder hook and ever so slowly I descended and got down safely. I was relieved to find the ladder had simply sunk about 6 inches into some soft ground, which actually could still have been dangerous. Fortunately both sides had sunk equally because if they had not the whole thing might have tipped sideways in which case, "Bye Bye Eddie! - hope you have a soft landing!". I suppose I should have realised before I went up the ladder it had been raining quite hard recently and the ground was quite soft. After a while I regained composure and found some wood planks which I put under the rungs to stop it slipping further. I jumped up and down on the bottom rung to test it and the ladder did not sink further so I ascended 'Jacob's Ladder' as I affectionately called my ladder and got on with the job, fortunately with no further mishaps.
The house in question was owned by a GP and his wife and my darling sister, Maggie May of Nuts In May, had recommended my services to them at her church. They had a rather interesting story because the gentleman some years previously had a serious back complaint and had visited a well known Christian Healer called Ian Andrews at a special healing service. Ian had prayed for healing and the doctor's back was healed but he did have the occasional twinge now and then. I had already at that time some interesting healing tapes by Ian Andrews and the doctor and I discussed these sometimes during various coffee breaks.
I suppose if Newton's Law had chosen to propel me quickly in a southerly direction Ian Andrews might have come to my rescue LOL. My, I've met some interesting characters, haven't I?
I am still on the subject of Painting and Decorating, and will remain so for some time, because I have many stories, dredged from my cerebral hemispheres, which are well worth telling.
This story goes way back to my first sojourn with the trade; long before I met Chris. It was during the early 80s, 1982 to be precise, the year of The Falkland's War with Argentina, when unemployment here was rife, exceeding three million. Until recently I had been one of them after our company was unceremoniously closed due to cheap and nasty foreign imports. This was so typical of what was happening across our manufacturing industry and it was the beginning of the demise of many of UK's famous engineering names when company after company was closed down. Our government did not seem to mind too much and they tried to steer people into service industries which they thought was the answer to our future prosperity - the short sighted fools! We are still suffering today due to their total mismanagement of our faltering industry and economy. I had lost my job in middle management and frankly had given up on the job market front after 200 rejections. I remember getting so fed up with not even getting a single response to any of my applications I telephoned one company and said that since I had not received a reply from them I was assuming no news was good news and therefore I had got the job and what time would they like me to start working on Monday, 8.30 or perhaps 9.00am. They were highly embarrassed and I received a "No" letter the very next day, delivered by hand. Eventually I decided to work for myself - at least I could not make myself redundant, so I chose to work in something I enjoyed and in which I was very competent - I was always good at DIY and decided to try it. At the time people were very cruel about the unemployment situation, saying catty remarks like, "I know how to cure the three million unemployed - send them all to the Falklands!". I almost came to blows a few times with characters saying things like that because I understood what it was like to lose one's job, with a young wife and family, and I had, and still have, every sympathy for decent and honest folk losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Of course I have no sympathy for scroungers - that is different.
Anyway, enough of all that! I have a very amusing story for you and it centred on the owners of a local Post Office when they planned to move his elderly mother from her home in London to Bristol so they could look after her. The house they bought was just four houses up the road from the Post Office, the proprietors who owned and lived in accomodation over their shop. I imagine they had arranged the sale of his mother's house to finance her new house. I had placed a small advertisement in a local newspaper and a few days later and I was delighted to receive a phone call asking me if I would view a job and provide a quotation for painting and decoration the entire interior and all the external paintwork. It was a huge job and I quoted as requested and to add to the list they wanted also someone to paint the outside woodwork of the Post Office. I left them with the quotation and the next week they asked if I would mind sharing the work because they had a very tight time table and there was too much for one person to achieve the deadline. I did not mind at all so two weeks later I set off with my ladder and equipment - I was doing the external paintwork.
When I arrived I was amazed! There was a chap installing a kitchen and he seemed to be doing all the co-ordinating, if you could call it that. There was absolute chaos prevailing everywhere. Two guys were doing the internal painting and decorating and there was also an electrician and a plumber. We all seemed to get on OK but we did get in each other's way a lot - in fact on occasions we literally fell over each other. There was a huge clash between me and the internal painters because whenever I opened a sash window from the outside they moaned I had spoilt their paintwork and whenever I completed my painting of windows a grubby pair of hands invariably opened the window from the inside and ruined my work, particularly new putty work. Tempers flared on occasions and the kitchen fitter, being by far the worst culprit, constantly caused copious amounts of sawdust to fly from his work by the bucket load all over the internal decorators' new paintwork, causing them to utter long phrases in very strong language which was certainly not in "The Queen's English" and invariably punctuated with a generous supply of adjectives, not appearing in any recognised or authorised dictionary. His response was usually just two words illustrated by two fingers! which almost caused a serious fight on several occasions.
Prior to starting my self employment I was receiving unemployment benefit, known as 'being on the dole', but because I had started self employment work I signed off. During my visit I was amazed to see three people I knew queuing for their unemployment benefit (dole money) . . . . . and yes, you've guessed it, they were non other than our two internal painters AND the kitchen fitter. When they saw me they gestured me to 'keep mum' about it so they did not get into trouble. I duly obliged.
After a frustrating week all the upstairs work was done and I must say the chaps had made a lovely job of the internal decorations. I made good progress also and after a few more days we all had finished with the exception of the kitchen fitter who seemed to be making a big meal of the job.
But what should we see that very afternoon? A fellow called round to work in the roof and his job was to, you're not going to believe this, jack up the roof because it was sagging. Stone the timbers!!! What a time to do that!!! Who the hell arranged the work sequence - it was a disaster!! He went into the roof and jacked it up, inserting extra supports to straighten the sagging roof. It creaked and it groaned and outside we could actually see the ridge moving upwards. Surely this should have been done first!! We were all horrified, including the owners, because all the decorations were ruined 3 inches from ceiling down the walls and the ceilings and top of the walls were cracked. The owners 'did their nuts', as we say, because time was at a premium and his mother was due to move in early next week - it all had to be ready for her. We all put our heads together and came up with a solution and that was to add plaster coving to cover the damage and to repair the ceiling cracks. The decorators rubbed their hands with glee because they would earn extra money for the additional work and repairs. Adding the coving worked and it all looked fine a few days later. By now I was working at the Post Office but I popped round regularly to see how things were progressing. Once I arrived to see the mother's entrance to her new home. In my mind I was humming Handel's "The Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba". We were all expecting to hear sounds of appreciation and see big smiles but . . . . . . instead she flew into a violent rage, saying she did not like the house, did not like the decorations, did not like the 'small' rooms, did not like the kitchen or the bathroom or the garden and she did not like any of us. She demanded to be taken back to her house in London. Methinks the lady did protest too much LOL. Hell certainly did not have fury like this woman's scorn. I felt really sorry for the Post Office proprietors.
I am not sure how it all panned out because that was our last day. I often wondered but never plucked up the courage to see the Post Office proprietor to ask him but I sometimes think about it and have a chuckle. I also often wonder what became of my dubious work colleagues whose names escape me after 29 years, and whether they were ever caught by the authorities for falsely claiming unemployment benefit, Shhh!.
I'd like to invite my wonderful followers and readers to a virtual Labor Day BBQ over at my dear friend, Karen G.'s blog. It starts now and will continue through the 3 day weekend. Why not visit and meet some new bloggers and get a bunch of new followers. Oh, and don't forget to take some BBQ treats along with you. Don't miss it!
Chris and I had been working for a dear old gentleman called Stan. He was in his early 90s and was very pleasant and loved our company, which he had for several days while we decorated his kitchen and hall. It was a complete paint and wall papering job and I hope it brightened up his life.
I remember Stan well because he loved discussing theology, which is an interest of mine, and although he went to church regularly he had difficulty fully believing the whole New Testament, let alone the Old Testament. He was searching for proof in secular fields and said he would be a full believer if he could find irrefutable evidence. I don't envy his job because I suspect none exist outside The Bible. As I write this short story, I do hope Stan found the answer to his doubts. Anyway, we completed the job, he was satisfied, and it was time for payment.
Chris and I were particularly lucky because in the 15 years we worked together we never once had a problem with a payment - they all paid 'on the nail', even the lottery winners. We presented the invoice to Stan and the amount was for £813. He pulled out his chequebook and wrote a cheque and, bless his heart, the amount was £8.13 LOL. We pointed out that although we were highly competitive we would soon starve. He roared with laughter when he saw his mistake and promptly wrote another cheque, this time for £8,130. Goodness!! our boat had really come in!!! We laughed and laughed and pointed out that this was extremely generous of him but we did not intend buting a villa in the Maldives this year or purchase a cabin cruiser. He roared with laughter again when we pointed out his mistake and promptly wrote out another cheque for £813 and handed it to us.
"Thank you, Stan", we said, "but hang on a minute, there is another mistake!" By now tears of laughter were rolling down our faces because we discovered he dated it with last year's date. "Oh! Lawdy me!" - poor chap!
He handed over the book and asked Chris to write it. With the correct amount and date we thanked him and bade him goodbye. And that was the last I saw of him but I heard six months later he had died.
We got quite close to several of our elderly customers and we were always sad when they departed, but I shall always remember Stan for his discussions and his cheques.
Yes, you read correctly! Chris and I once worked for a very weird couple who had the good fortune to win £5.7 million. Let us call them Mr and Mrs Y, partly because I keep asking myself, "Why oh why of all people did fate dictate these two should win? This was a huge win 15 years ago and the trouble was that this couple were completely incapable of dealing with it. Prior to their new found wealth they had both worked as cleaners for a large factory and they were so hard up they actually borrowed money from a friend to pay their gas bill. Then suddenly, whoosh! . . . . a cool £5.7 million. They actually bought the friend a small flat in gratitude and at least I give them credit for this rather rare act of decency.
Whereas most of us would try to avoid making a complete lifestyle change if we were fortunate to win a large sum of money, these two went out of their way to change every single facet of their lives, almost immediately. The first thing they did was to buy a top of range Mercedes car but since neither could drive they persuaded her brother to chuck in his good full time job so he could be their full time chauffeur. The silly man accepted and today lives to regret this decision. He was bored to tears for most of the day because he was not required to drive them often and there are only so many times you can clean and valet the car. So he just stood around for most of the time, awaiting instructions - poor thing.
After a few false housing starts where they always succeeded in upsetting neighbours with their unreasonable behaviour, they bought a big isolated house - much too big - there were only two of them in a 20 bedroom house which we thought was ridiculous. Imagine it! All the family grown up! Grandchildren grown up! No friends! No parties! They were incapable of entertaining guests! Just them there and all alone in this huge house. Then they proceeded to have the whole thing decorated, a new roof, new wooden windows throughout, extensive garden alterations and installation of a gymnasium, which they never used. They chose to renew the roof during the winter and, surprise, surprise, rain water came flooding inside, ruining existing plaster coving and decorations to this lovely grade two listed building. Then we noticed that a taxi proprietor was actually commissioned to replace the roof. They also employed a gardener to cut down thirty beautiful trees, once providing an elegant lining to both sides of their drive. They had two tennis courts, never used, and their total interest in the garden appeared to be starting a vegetable garden, growing runner beans, peas and potatoes. We had to laugh because these vegetables are so cheap in supermarkets that even I don't bother to grow anything these days. They had a wonderful opportunity to do something interesting to develop their lives, like learning to drive and attending courses which might later provide interesting hobbies and some purpose in their lives, and perhaps to use their wealth to help people. I, for example, would learn to fly small propeller aircraft and perhaps get involved in a gliding club, and get involved in charity work. Instead they seemed totally preoccupied with security even though there was a large electrically operated wrought iron gate as the only way in. How on earth are the unsavoury characters suppose to get in? Grappling hooks! Parachutes! . . . . and how do they imagine they are going to get out with all their tatty belongings, even if they had any commercial value? There were CT cameras all over the place - blooming heck, the place was surrounded by a 20ft high stone wall. Who needs all that security? We were once totally baffled at the response we got from Mr Y when we knocked on the back door. We were greeted with a raised clenched fist about to strike us - perhaps he thought we were burglars and perhaps he requires the services of SpecSavers. He displayed equally totally weird behaviour many times and it was difficult to get any reasonable conversation out of any of them, except the brother.
Mr and Mrs Y were virtual prisoners inside their own home and their 20 acres of land. They had absolutely no sense of humour and he rapidly became addicted to horse racing and started telephone betting to the bookies, heavily. He began losing large amounts of money - one afternoon he lost £250,000, would you believe? £250,000! my word, that could help a few people, couldn't it? This betting we thought was very paradoxical because during our first meeting with them they openly stated they intended never to help any of their grown up children financially - none of them got a single penny. Truly amazing! They fell out with the bank, then another bank. Then they fell out with the roofer/taxi entrepreneur. Then the cleaners, then the gardeners . . . . . . an so on. Not very nice people and they preferred to lose money on horses rather than help their own kids. The mind boggles.
Chris and I were invited to quote for the decorative work plus painting the new wooden windows. This was a large job and we had to re-schedule some of our regular work to accommodate it. Our first project was to decorate the 'Wedgewood Room' - they had some plaster Wedgwood designs on the walls and we were to paint the rest of the room. Honestly it looked dreadful! Not our painting, but the overall effect which looked sheer tat. Next was the 'Italian Room', of equal ill taste and providing a very cheap and nasty effect. And so we worked gradually through the rooms and then started the windows.
They did go abroad for a week and brought back some statues for the garden - all utter tat! Who wants Grecian gods and goddesses in their garden? First, there was the armless Aphrodite showing all she had, except her arms. Funny this Grecian female is always denied arms - anyone know why? Then they had Apollo in all his glory, including arms and showing us his 'credentials'. Here he is, just like the statue they bought.
One evening Chris and I played a little joke. We placed a breathing mask over Apollo's important little place. Well we didn't want to see the cats embarrassed. did we? The mask fitted perfectly! Next morning we were greeted by two stony faces - obviously not amused. Honestly, these two had no sense of humour whatsoever. From that day on their attitude was cool towards us and things cooled further when they asked us if we could devote a year to them to decorate the entire house. We had to decline because we pointed out to them we had other customers and work was already scheduled. We explained we could not risk losing our existing customers but could return when we were free and do their work in stages. They did not like it and cooled off completely. We walked away after completing the next phase. It was the same with the builder - they wanted to take him over too but he declined and left quickly.
What became of them? A carpet fitter friend we know said they have separated - he has gambled away ALL his share and lives in a house in which we would not want to live - in total squalor. She has moved three times after selling the mansion, each time upsetting neighbours. Now in my book these people were privilaged individuals to have been awarded so much money - they had a duty and a responsibility to themselves and to others to make the most of it, and they blew it! - in more ways than one. They could have helped a few people and their children and they didn't! I think when they end up 'upstairs' they may face questions about this.
And what about the brother/chauffeur? Poor chap lost his job and he could not return to it - we are not sure what happened to him. We liked him and do hope he managed to repair his life.
What strange people we met during our Painting and Decorating days - and I have some more for you..