Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are you a Diva or a Disaster?

I'm talking DIY of course. Me, I can safely say without hesitation that I fall in the latter category. My DIY disasters (and the CH's too) are legendary from the time when I managed to hammer a carpet tack through a water pipe resulting in me sitting while 8 months pregnant for 3 hours, like the boy with his finger in the dyke, until the CH returned home to the time he tried to repair the switch in the power shower when I had forgotten to turn off the electricity.

OK, it was an honest mistake. I wasn't trying to bump him off or anything (I'm not sure he was well enough insured at the time to be honest). He asked me to turn the power off then kept getting electric shocks from the switch (he was at the time standing astride an old cast iron bath making a perfect circuit). I, having survived only one year of O Level physics in the company of Mr R, a confirmed breast starer, made up some very reasonable sounding guff about residual electricity (well I believed it!) until I suddenly remembered that the power shower was on a different ring main which was still turned on!The CH professed to finding the electric shocks quite enjoyable so what that says about his character, I have no idea.

Now one of the problems with French houses in our area is that the roofs (or is it rooves) are all made from canal tiles, in our case, handmade over the thighs of vestal virgins.... no hang on a minute, I mean old Frenchmen, when the local tile factory was still operating. Now we all know that one thigh isn't the same as another and your entire roof is never made from tiles from one particular thigh which means that they are all slightly different. In the main this works well but sometimes during high winds and driving rain they leak like a 'passoire'. We've had this problem with the roof over our bathroom in the past and now, with plans to sell up and move on, it was time to repaint the bathroom ceiling.

I hate painting ceilings, particularly this one as it's too high to paint comfortably standing up but too low to paint from a small stepladder without constantly sticking your head to the ceiling.

Those who live in France will know of the poor quality of French paint. Here we have two choices. We can buy Dulux for the equivalent of about £50 a 2.5 litre tin or we can buy French paint which often has the coverage properties of the breast milk of a beaver or more often, water. The other option is to buy huge 20 litre vats of reasonable brilliant white paint which are often on sale at the 'bricos'.

At some point in the past I obviously opted to do this as a huge plastic tub of the stuff was found lurking in the cobwebs of the barn. First job is to get the lid off which took a good 10 minutes then try to mix the stuff into a decent consistency. Now, a DIY Diva would have one of those super-dooper mixer thingies that you attach to a drill but a DIY Distaster would more likely have a........ stick. Trust me, trying to mix 20 litres of paint by hand is no easy task and by the time I'd finished I'd got about 18 litres left and another couple were spread around the floor, my feet, the barn walls.....

Time to decant it into a smaller paint tin. Hmmm, therein lies a problem. I usually keep old pool chemical tubs for such jobs (Oh alright..... I forget to throw them out. I'm really not that organised) but the CH has had a massive clear out of the barn and disposed of them all. What should I use. I check out an assortment of old buckets but they are all coated in old plaster or mud or chicken poo. Eventually I opt for an old Dulux tin which has a couple of inches of old paint stuck to the bottom. That should do the trick. Trying to lift a 20 litre tub of paint is difficult enough so I decide to put it on the steps where we feed the cats so I don't have to lift it so high.

I lift and pour slowly....... all over my feet. How on earth am I supposed to do this? Then I decide the only way is to pour it fast. About three quarters go into the paint tin and the rest in the vague direction of it. I get some newspaper to wipe up the spillage. Have you ever tried wiping paint off concrete. It just spreads around. Now I'm wondering if trying to do this in the same place we feed the cats was really that sensible but, tant pis, it's too late.

Off to paint the ceiling. I decide to put my hair in a topknot to keep it out of my face but then every time I go up the stepladder I forget to allow an extra inch and within minutes my topknot has become a second paintbrush. I bet Michelangelo never had this problem when he painted the Cistine Chapel!

The other thing I find, which is probably more to do with me than whether I'm a Diva or a Disaster, is then when I paint a ceiling, I often lose all sense of direction and end up back at the point where I started instead of the other side of the room. Several hours, one stiff neck and a sore back later I was nearly finished. Just the bit in the corner above the bath to do.

I teetered on the edge of the bath to reach the far corners. Nearly there, just one more bit to do. DAMN! I accidentally stood on the tiled bath surround which promptly collapsed leaving a gaping hole.

At the same moment I heard a terrific commotion from the barn. Extracting my foot from the hole I rushed out to see what was happening. Mad Baz, the crosseyed Siamese cross, had come home for a little snack. Being not quite the full picnic, he had sat on the paint lid that I had carelessly left by his bowl. Replete and ready to head off to catch a mouse or two, he stood up to find the lid firmly glued to his behind. Not entirely sure what it was and why it was following him, he was careering madly around the barn yowling like a demon possessed and trying to outrun the lid that was flapping around his bottom. I eventually caught him and peeled the lid off giving him a sort of kitty Brazilian. His little eyes watered and he rewarded me with twenty claws and a full set of teeth sunk into my hand. Still I probably deserved it.

Why, oh why, must DIY be so painful! Still, the ceiling looks nice:


menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Hope you don't mind me saying but this is your best ever post to date! Hilariously funny and a bloody entertaining read. Keep up the good work as this is quality writing. X

(Very) Lost in France said...

MOB - Mind? I'm positively chuffed! And from a blogger I thoroughly admire too! Cheers. VLiF x

KTB said...

I love French paint! I get it from Tout Faire or Sarreméjean - it's the Cami brand - good thick stuff, and much better than Dulux. In fact, last time I was in UK I painted my gran's kitchen for her using Dulux and I was extremely disappointed - it was thin compared to what I use here.

When I paint a ceiling, normally my head ends up more covered than the ceiling!!

(Very) Lost in France said...

KTB - You are clearly in the land of French paint heaven, you lucky thing. I've never heard of either of the places you mentioned so I don't think they have them in our neck of the woods.Personally don't like Dulux much myself. I'm more a Farrow and Ball/Little Greene Paint Company person and though we can get F&B in our village, the cost would make your milk curdle! Do you want to come and paint my kitchen? VLiF

john said...

Brilliant as post as usual. But what! up and leave! moving on! sell up and go! Mon dieu, why?

Did you electric shock CH into submission?

Did you not tell us the truth about the pork?

Has bearing your breasts to the village menfolk cuased you psychological trauma?

Are you staying en France? Come to Region 37, love to have you as a neighbour.

Most of all KEEP WRITING

farming-frenchstyle said...

When painting the bathroom ceiling I stood on the loo seat - big mistake. Possibly not as serious as the bath surround though. Can just see you with your top-knot on the ceiling.

Lehners in France said...

Great post well done Mel, we had a green goose a few months ago when he decided to dabble with the paint pot. Debs x

(Very) Lost in France said...

John - more lovely comments. Thank you so much. I'm afraid, having started I'm completely bitten by the blog bug so you won't get rid of me that easily. Now.... where is dept 37? VLiF x (you can even have a bise for being so nice!)

(Very) Lost in France said...

FF - thanks for coming by. I've popped over to yours. Shame you are so far away as I need someone to mow our fields. VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Deb - nice to see you over here again. How are the viewings going? Any joy on the sale? Would love to compare notes. VLiF x