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Smallville: The Postman And The Parrot

Peter B Farrell tackles some pre-Christmas DIY, and somehow a postman and a parrot are entwined in the ensuing disaster.

Sample more of Peter's special brand of humour by clicking on Smallvile in the menu on this page - the best of holiday reading.

“We should have some cold but dry days ahead, with the wind from East...” The pouting, skimpily-clad weather girl on TV told me all I wanted to know.

The advent of visitors produces a change in perception. That is, the paintwork around the house suddenly looked a bit tatty, the windows needed an urgent clean and the garage was noticeably overflowing with empty cardboard boxes; the latter saved ‘just in case’ any amount of damaged or unserviceable electrical goods needed to be returned.

Despite the cold mid-winter day I had set to work with a will, but the completion of each task merely exposed another. What about the guttering and fascia boards? The drive needed a good rake over, the gates were squeaking and the roses were crying out for a good prune.

“It certainly needed it.“ This from the postman as I was frantically sanding down the front door sill. He should know; the letter box was only inches away from the offending sill with it’s flaking paint and traces of green mould. The removal of the paint revealed a damp patch. Vigorous probing with a screwdriver exposed an area of wet rot and I was soon staring at an ever-widening and deepening hole in the wood.

The ever-shortening days meant less hours of daylight and a sense of urgency crept in.

“I just need to go down to the DIY Store.” My wife Margaret hardly heard. She was too busy cleaning windows as I hurriedly drove off into town.

At the store I ignored the forest of Christmas trees, shut my ears to the carols and concentrated on my list; quick drying hardener, preservative, wood filler (large), wood stain and yacht varnish. I could now visualise a gleaming door sill, but surely the front door would suffer by comparison? I decided to take extra sanding materials and increase the quantities of varnish.

A glance at the shelves showed I was way behind in technical know-how. A particular aerosol foam would not only fill large gaps under pressure but also expand to twice it’s volume; the flexible nozzle depicted in the instructions would seek out every hidden nook and cranny. Just the thing and with no apparent skill needed. I added it to my trolley. The hole could be filled that very evening, ready for painting the following morning.

‘Screw on the flexible nozzle’ or so it said. I was now back home, puzzling how to use the aerosol; no nozzle of any kind and therefore I was staring at a dead parrot.

“This parrot is defunct, has ceased to exist, is no more.“ Why I had associated a Monty Python sketch with my predicament I have no idea as it was hardly a laughing matter. Conscious of the dwindling hours of daylight I hurriedly returned to the store armed with the offending aerosol and sought help from the Customer Service staff.

The age of the young female assistant precluded any references to parrots. I merely pointed out that the aerosol filler in it’s current state would not do the job.

“Are you sure? It looks complete to me.” She was not wholly convinced.

“It’s a lovely aerosol for the job but...“ As I tried to explain, a missing right leg came to mind and Dudley Moore hopped around at his Tarzan audition; “...it’s missing a nozzle to the tune of one.“

My brand of witticism foundered, and not for the first time. ’Young people don’t get it, you’re an old man’ - my wife’s words echoed again. I took up the offer of seeking out a replacement item; mystery solved. Most of the aerosols had a thin plastic tube (nozzle?) attached with sellotape and easily detached, mine had been missing.

Back home I frantically worked as the sun sunk slowly in the West. hardening, preserving and now ready for the filler. It worked; it expanded...and expanded. Time for the drying was also time for tea, attended with quiet satisfaction and self-congratulation.

Wot no tea? Margaret was nowhere to be seen.

“Start tidying the books, get them back on the shelves; phew, the dust up here...“ from the upstairs landing. I usually had a few books ‘on the go’ to read depending on my mood, leaving them on the floor either side of the easy chair. This week it was the angst of Nelson Algren, to be relieved by dipping into Vintage Thurber. I caught a glimpse of the prose and idly continued reading The Lady on the Bookcase...

“The books.“ Exasperation now from Margaret and it jolted me back into the matter on hand. After tea I inspected my handiwork by the light of a torch. The filler had a spongy texture but was touch-dry and would be ready for sanding down the next morning.

Awakening to a dry and bright day I looked forward to completion. Over breakfast I mused whether to tackle the garden in the afternoon or oil all the doors in the house and polish the letter box.

The room darkened and I was startled to see storm clouds heading from the North.

“Quick, scissors, tape, plastic,” I shouted to Margaret.

Outside a gale was blowing, with gusts of torrential rain. Cursing global warming and the useless weather girl on local TV, I tried in vain to cover my handiwork with a plastic box lid, held down by adhesive tape. The tape stuck securely to my fingers and the lid blew down the drive.

Giving up in disgust I waited for the storm to abate. I was able to resume operations an hour later.

“You should have covered it.” The postman shook his head and tested the filler. I spent the rest of the day blasting the sill with my wife’s hair dryer, with no prospect of finishing before our visitors arrived, I decided to cover the whole sill with waterproof tape.

On TV that evening the pouting weather girl seemed to take great delight in promising a damp and miserable weekend. I happily continued reading Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times.

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