Paint: A 125th Scary Story special
Despite my status as shortarse of this parish, I can safely say that I'm not scared of heights. I can climb up and down ladders all day if I had to without worrying for a second about falling. Oh no, it's the landing that I'm scared of, particularly headfirst onto the patio.
More fool I, then, that I should "volunteer" to paint the back of the house. After all, I had once spent a wonderful week one summer as a teenager painting my parent's house, and thus living rent free for a considerable time. And I'd hardly fallen off at all.
Having said that, my parents' front and back gardens were sensibly laid out and I didn't have to worry about where I was putting the ladder without it toppling to my certain doom. My own house, on the other hand, had gardens laid out by Incapability Brown, who obviously had a metal plate in his head and one leg longer than the other, creating a garden with more dips and crevices than Charlie Dimmock. Our window cleaner fled in fear, and when it came to paint the house, I realised that I was heading toward certain doom. Parents' house wasn't pebble-dashed either. Damn you 1930s builders!
A tanker arrived with a metric arseload of Masonry Paint. My best great big ladder was pulled out to its full extension and, in the privacy of my own shed, I donned my best shabby clothes. Like the chicken that I was, I started at the bottom and worked upwards, hoping that I'd get braver as I went along. Pebble-dash is a pain to work with, you can't just slap the paint on - you've got the force it into all the nooks and crannies, as loose chippings plummet onto your cranium.
It was only when I reached halfway up the upstairs windows that I realised that I was fast running out of ladder, and if I was to finish the job before sunstroke set in, I would have to take drastic measures.
Genius. I found an old tent pole and lashed it to my paint brush, giving me that all-important extra three feet of reach. It was enough, but only just - if I stood on the very top rung, praying for my life, reaching out as far as I could, I could just get my brush to the top corners.
Splonge splonge splonge. Can ya tell what it is yet?
"Yes," replied Mrs Duck, "It's a house."
I painted and I painted, reaching out as far as I could without dying. That was until I got to the bit above the bathroom. To reach that part, I had to plant the ladder in the middle of Incapability Brown's Great Flowerbed Full of Heathers, and hope for the best.
Things were fine as I climbed the ladder and set to work. It was when I had to reach over to paint behind the drainpipe which ran up the centre of the house that things got a bit hairy. With the Acme Extend-a-Brush, I could easily reach, but the long handle made detailed work a tad tricky. To finish the job properly, I would have to bite the bullet and get in there myself. Off came the long handle, and reaching out as far as I could, I *just* get to the very top behind the pipe.
It suddenly occured to me at this stage that I could now reach this point rather easily, and in fact, the pipe was rather closer than it was a few seconds ago. All of a sudden the pipe was no longer miles away, but was, in fact, sailing past me at a rate of knots as the ladder sank into the garden and toppled over like Ruud van Nistelrooy in the Arsenal penalty area.
Only one thing for it. I jumped. Or rather, plummeted.
I came to several minutes later. Like all true idiots I was completely uninjured, staring at the clear, blue skies through the rungs of the ladder, with Mrs Duck standing over me trying not to laugh. The side of the house was painted with a perfect arc down the wall and across the patio windows. Where my painter's kettle had toppled arse-over-tit on top of me, there was now a murder victim outline where I fell.
Strangely prophetic - when Mrs Scary saw the state of her windows, she bloody murdered me.
This year I shall be mostly painting the side of the house. We have scaffolding. It'll end in tears. Or pain. Or, knowing my luck, both.
Good deed for the day
Please sponsor TheBear in the Great North Run. That is all.