Monday, May 30

Paint it black

After almost a decade of studiously ignoring the hairline cracks, chips, peelings and in one mysterious spot, battery acid stains, we finally capitulated and agreed that the house needed a fresh lick of paint. And then collectively shuddered because each of us remembers the last home redecoration.

It involved the usual characters; smiling carpenters, stonemasons, architects, painters, a budget and a timetable. As Burns put it succinctly - the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. In our case, they zoomed off into another dimension altogether.

In a moment of weakness, we'd decided to stay in the house while said renovations were being undertaken. I don't know whose clever idea it was but suspect all of us lost about 5 years by inhaling cement dust over that one fateful month.  

The first hint that things would not go swimmingly was when workers began to dismantle old bathroom tiles. They started off by chipping these away under our watchful eyes. We turned away for a minute allowing some bright boy to decide that things were moving too slowly for his liking. Said genius took a sledgehammer to the walls. Which cracked, taking the waterproofing with them as well as the surfaces of two other adjoining walls; in my parents' room and the kitchen. This cost us an additional week. 

Then came the carpentry work. The mistry was literally and figuratively, an oily man. He promised the moon but left us without the cheese even. Heaven only knows why he hated us but every piece of furniture he made had razor sharp edges and corners. I could theoretically use the dressing table edge to shave. Clearly a man blissfully unaware of the adage "Form follows Function". And the sawdust, lord help us, like sand from the beach, was everywhere. We'd find sprinkles of it in the oddest places months later. The pater, trusting of his fellow man as usual, had paid him the whole amount a week before the work was completed. So, it should come as no surprise that it never was technically finished. The smarmy bugger left one section for later. 8 years on we're still waiting.

After all this it's a minor miracle we're voluntarily undertaking this exercise again. Already, I've had stern words with a few of the workers. Their laziness and incompetence astounds me. It's not like we're paying them in Sodexo coupons, mind. Genuine shekels exchange hands. Yet they won't show up on time, will try to weasel their way out of work and, in general, seem reluctant from the get go. Constant supervision is the only solution which is why I've had to take time off from work (never a hardship, I'll admit) for this.

Redecoration is something I'll probably never understand. It always starts out as as a list of 5 things to do. A week later this has risen to 15. Rather like shopping at D-Mart, the family seems tempted to add minor items to the list and before I know it, 3 weeks and 2 shouting matches later, the house is a mess. No one is happy; the workers because they're not being allowed to cut corners; family, since a specific design element was murdered, a particular shade was unavailable and/or nothing looks like they envisioned it. Finally, steeped in an atmosphere of extreme grumpiness and exhaustion, it ends.

At least we weren't stupid enough to live in the house while the work is going on this time. Live and learn, that's us.

Song for the moment: Red and Black Light - Ibrahim Maalouf