It’s the back end of July, which means I get to have a few weeks away from (almost) voluntary work, because having time away from the shop is healthy but also due to the fact they won’t pay me during the school holidays. Now that Master Johnny and Miss Katherine are over 18 and able to look after themselves officially (they’ve managed it for years unofficially), it means my parenting skills are hardly ever required. Obviously, my parenting skills have always been what could be described as ‘light touch’. The technical term, apparently, is ‘Benign Neglect’ – if you are inclined to believe what the consultant at A&E told me on a couple of occasions. I thought he’d made it up until some clever social worker used the same phrase.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is they’re perfectly capable of watching TV all day without me checking on them every other hour, which means I have time to do lots of other stuff, like writing blogs, making videos and playing on the Play Station, which is something I couldn’t do years ago because there was always a bloody kid on it.
However, there are a couple of drawbacks:
1. The shop has now given me a special magic key ring which allows me to look at what’s being said at (almost) voluntary work, which means I can get involved in (almost) voluntary work every day, rather than build a decent team on Pro Evolution Soccer Master League that can compete for European glory.
2. There are grown up jobs to do at home.
Lady Barton St Mary, aware that my time away from (almost) voluntary work may lead me into an idle and wasteful lifestyle, has used all of her creative corporate thinking to devise an effective work development programme to make sure that my daytimes are not frittered away watching cat videos on Faceache.
My initial self assessment interview went well, with a reasonable list of SMART targets agreed for the coming weeks. Main issues included renovating and painting the windows of Randall Towers; trimming the gigantic hedge that hides the electrified fence from the villagers and repairing the dining chairs in the K word.*
Hasn’t he got staff to do all this? I hear you say. Well, of course, but Lady BSM didn’t become a financial guru without driving through efficient fiscal methods, so using me as an effective member of house staff is an effective money saver.
Having signed the appropriate papers and agreed to a performance review in 4 weeks’ time, I set about the dining chairs with enthusiasm. Amazingly, a substance called Hard as Nails worked wonders, although the antique dining chairs have yet to be tested by Master Johnny and his special ‘lean back on two chair legs to get the Reggae Reggae sauce’ move.
One chair left to be Hard as Nailed and my first objective will be achieved.
So on to the windows. Climbing 30 feet into the air on a light aluminium ladder isn’t my idea of fun, but I had a job to do and Deal or No Deal is on a summer break, so I was very brave.
I’d forgotten one thing. Like most parts of Randall Towers, a gothic stately home, the window frames are made of ancient meringue. Additionally, the previous ‘craftsperson’ had stuck the glass into the frame with what appeared to be Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum in 1965. Because they didn’t want to remove the old putty, the glazing was proud of the frame and a new frame formed with more Wrigley’s, though it may have been Bazooka Joe.
I carefully removed all the chewing gum and managed to lift out the glass in one piece. I lovingly scraped out all the old putty, smoothed the edges with sandpaper and introduced the antique glass back into the frame, held with fresh putty. Carefully balancing on the ladder, I squeezed the putty around the frame and worked it into a smooth bevel with my putty knife. I would have stepped back to admire my work, but that would have led to my shins ending up in my hip joints.
I cleaned all my equipment and returned it to our garage, satisfied with my day’s work.
Later on, I remembered that I’d left a chisel on the window sill, so made my way to the room to collect it. The newly fitted old glass had a perfect split right down the middle, proving that all the aged glass in Randall Towers is made of Spangles. I am now convinced that this old place is where the witch in Hansel and Gretel lived before all the sweets went way past their sell by date.
Of course, I will persevere. I have a review to pass. Once I’ve got over this little problem, I have to ask our neighbours if I can come on their land to paint more windows, hoping they’ve forgotten the time during another work programme when I flooded their house.
But that’s another story…
* K Word – see blog The K Word from 2012. Not for those of a nervous disposition.