DID I tell you we were living with my daughter at the moment?
Did I say it was only for a week while we had some building work done?
Well, the time has blown out. For one week, read three, going on 52.
Did I say the builder doing this building work was my wife?
It’s only a shower, but a shower is the one thing in Australia you can’t live without. You can pee behind a bush, but if you haven’t showered the bush would probably walk away in disgust.
My wife wanted the shower tiled. Fair enough. Good idea. I said I’d get around to it. After I’d refitted the kitchen, which I have been unable to get back to since I ripped out the food cupboard in February, 2000.
But no, she wanted to tile it. Creatively. By which she meant she wanted to smash up the tiles with a hammer and glue the bits on in random patterns.
She said that’s probably how it would have ended up accidentally if I’d done it in a deliberately traditional way, but she wanted to do it creatively on purpose.
“It’ll leak,” I said.
“It leaks now,” she countered.
“It’ll take a long time.”
“It’s already taken a long time.”
“It’ll look awful.”
“It already looks awful!”
“You’ve never tiled anything before.”
“Neither have you, but a week from now I will have.”
Well, that was ridiculous for a start.
At the end of the week she’d bought the glue. Four different kinds, because she went to four different shops and they gave her four different sets of advice.
She said she’d take back the ones she didn’t use, but she won’t. Currently in our house we have six brass window catches, two tea towels, a kitchen knife and a shower tray that are going to be returned to the shops they came from.
They’ve been here since last year and it’s November!
Yesterday she started tiling. Well, smashing anyway. She did glue on one or two but they kept sliding down the wall. Until they hit the one beneath, and they all stacked up like tins on a shelf. It was certainly creative.
“What do you think?” she asked.
I wanted to say I thought it was bloody awful but a smashed tile is a sharp implement.
And anyway, she started to cry.
“It’s awful. I know it’s awful. I’m hopeless. I wish I were more creative.”
So now we’re both doing it. Correction, I’m making encouraging noises and she is gradually piling bits of tile up the wall. It looks like Beirut but I can’t tell her that.
“What do think?” she beamed.
“It’s wonderful. Really good. I love it!”
“You’re just saying that…”
“Of course not. It’s brilliant.”
Well… what would you have done?
It’s not over yet. We only have two more walls and the floor to go, plus the bits that dropped off the wall we — she — has already done. But we’re getting there.
In bed last night she said, “Do you think I’m creative?’
“Of course you are. And anyway, it’s nothing to cry about.”
She had a gleam in her eye. “But that was the really creative bit…”