So what did I get up to this weekend.
Well not as much as I thought I would, I’m not too sure how I should say this when everything is hitting the fan and it’s crisis point but I dragged my heals this weekend.
Best laid plans of mice and men and all that but you don’t expect someone knocking on your door who you’ve not seen in decades. I said I’d blame you…. so I’m going to point the finger of blame at my old pal Phil for turning up on Saturday afternoon effectively giving me the afternoon off, the afternoon off I should have taken weeks ago.
Basically I’d become Billy-no-mates, I’d not gone out for months, I’d not had a single nip of booze (it affects my getting up times and ability to work with power tools y’know) for three months and all other forms of enjoyment had gone a long time ago in my various efficiency and economy drives. I was a right miserable bugger fixated on getting that living room done before the bailiffs arrived, I was in need of a break and that break was provided in the shape of my old school mucker Phil who I’d not seen since I was a post-punk-gothy-whassit in the dim and distant past.
A tour of the house and a liberal sprinkling of dust on poor Phil’s rather nice jacket and we decided to retire to the local pub for some grub and a chat. So what was going to be a spirited excursion into the realms of plastering was replaced by some egg and chips washed down with liberal amount of lager… and a wonderful afternoon was had by pair of us. We had lots to catch up on and the hours past swiftly, a nice lazy afternoon, some fried fare and pints of cold lager helped the time melt away.
Phil is a kind gent and had been good enough to come bearing presents, a copy of Sleaford Mods, Key Markets on vinyl and a bottle of some dark dangerous Port. This led to problems on returning to the house when Phil had taken his leave, was I to continue with working on the house in my slightly addled state or should I just crack open the Port and have a movie night in front of the TV. So movie and Port it was, Mad Max was watched at a volume level of what I can only describe as “one louder” – it’s good to have a detached house – and the Port went down very nicely. So nicely that I lost an afternoon of work but gained another of enjoyment and good company. The evening though was lost completely in the arms of a dark rich velvety bottle of the strong stuff, I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed every drop until my alarm clock went off the next morning.
I can’t do this often, but thanks Phil that was a tonic.
So what did I get done?
Well I’d taken the Friday off work and the morning was spent getting myself organised. I took an hour on the computer sorting out things I needed to purchase, checking out whether my planned schemes of attack were right, generally an hour of surfing and spending.
Once organised I was ready for an expedition to the shops. First a trip to Tescos, a routine supplies shop punctuated by a ten minute stint on the cashpoints outside to reconcile the PIN numbers on all of my credit cards – don’t ask, it’s just a part of the lavish landscape of home development and funding it. This was then followed by a visit to Screwfix, picking up a purchase and returning some other widgets. Then off to Halfords to get two of my car bulbs replaced – I’m such a wimp, I couldn’t get a screw out of one tail light cluster so I paid a very helpful chap a fiver to do it for me… what a wimp. Then to B&Q for a bag of bonding plaster. Bish bash and double bosh, job done. Phew it may not sound much but this cost me the entire morning and I didn’t get back to one in the afternoon.
So the job for the day was to finish off the plastering of the holes and the chasing. So once I’d tucked into some noodles and yoghurt I was liberally applying plaster to all the nooks and crannies I’d created in chasing out the electrical cables and ones I’d inadvertently discovered on removing paper, skirting boards etc.…
It was all quite a job, it involved nearly half a bag of plaster, by the end of the day the house was looking much more complete and rather dusty too.
The Saturday was to be my very busy day, but as mentioned it didn’t turn out like that. However I did manage to tackle and complete a job in much less time than I’d initially planned. I know it’s shocking but a job I’d planned would take an hour took…. gasp….. ten minutes.
Not wishing to start a sentence with the word basically… but… Basically the job was to drill through 55cm of chimney breast and insert some 2.5mm twin and earth. I knew that the chimney was pretty tough and although I had just bought a new super-duper 60cm drill bit for my uber-powerful SDS drill I still thought it would be a struggle. The drill bit to start with was too long for the available drilling area so it would mean pre-drilling the hole with a shorter drill bit and then using the longer one later. This would be all done on a wobbly ladder with the enormous SDS drill, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Anyway the pre-drilling was a doddle, the large short bit cut through the external hard brickwork in a moment and the long second bit eased through the stonework in seconds. Amazed I threaded the twin and earth cable through, fully expecting it to snag or drop into a void but it went through first time.
Amazing that must be the first job I’d over-estimated.
The next job was back to normal, removing the dado rails in the kitchen half of the room. This was to take a half an hour but upon removing them I found that there were three or four layers of stubborn wallpaper to remove. So Karcher out and a-scraping I did go, two hours later and it was done.
Next I was back onto angle-grinding out a plug socket for the light switches I was moving in the kitchen area. This was going to be tricky, these switches would not only be a two-way system for the light in the dining room area, but a two-way system to the ones in the porch and outside security lights. If you don’t know what a two-way system is, then putting it simply it’s having two switches control one light, sort of like most people have on their top landing light, it’s a tricky thing to do with only one set of lights, with four it gets very very very tricky. It was so tricky I drew a diagram and in anticipation of a nasty angle grinding moment I was fixing the guard to the grinder when…. the front doorbell chimed.
Part of the reason for Phil popping over was because my old friend John Little had passed away earlier in the week. Phillip and I both shared a friendship with him and that’s part of the reason for Phil looking me up.
Anyway I thought I’d add this little testimonial to him at the bottom of this post, I hope no-one minds.
John was the owner of the famous Hartlepool shop “The Other Record Shop”, the shop had been on the go for forty years with John its rather unique owner. I’d grown up there, buying and selling vinyl, visiting gigs on “Other Tours” coaches and generally spending far too much afternoon and evening time with John in various drinking establishments.
From the shop further friendships were forged, I was a Manchester student and would regretfully return every holiday to the alternative desert that was my home town of Hartlepool. John suggested a Nick Cave and the Badseeds gig he was running a coach to, he said there may be other like-minded folks on there. I turned out in my outlandish finery only to discovery a bus full of similarly dressed Hartlepudlians, a rather fantastic night was had, local alternative friendly nightclubs, venues and bars were named and lifelong friendships were struck.
Over the years John had become a good friend, not only was he a friend to me but he’d been a part of so many lives, first albums, first gigs had all been experienced by many through John’s shop and ticket agency. It wasn’t your usual sort of shop, even in these over-PC-health and safety times John would be found perched in the corner of his shop having a ciggie and sometimes a can of beer. At Christmas you could go to his store and have your choice of red or white wine in a plastic cup and if you ever visited to find the famous “back in ten minutes” sign you knew you could probably find him doing the cryptic crossword in the King Johns or Yates’ just round the corner.
I’ll miss John loads, I’ll miss the sanctuary of The Other Record Shop on my less and less frequent visits to Hartlepool, flicking through his racks to find that overlooked old classic. I’ll miss him in the pub laughing over a beer and musing over times gone by. I expect when he passed away I was possibly up a ladder drilling something, I think it puts things into perspective, perhaps I should have taken a bit more time to see my old mates and been a little less single-minded.
I should have introduced him to my daughter, I should have introduced her to John and his racks of vinyl.
Thanks John, I’ll miss you lots, I’ll take a couple of days off to pay my respects.
Post: Work Interruptus, Pictures supplied without permission of whomever photographed them, if you are the photographer then I’ll happily remove it/them or add a suitable by-line, just drop me and email and I’ll do whatever you want – no fuss – immediately.