T’was last Christmas I decided to decorate the landing and stairs. It was looking decidedly scruffy and strangely orange. As though I’d sat on the top step smoking Slim Panatellas for a month, like a David Dickinson facial.
I chose the weekend of the 4th and 5th of January for decorating manoeuvers, the weekend before I returned to work after Christmas, and although it meant missing the FA Cup third round action that week, and two teams I didn’t even follow were playing live on television, we had a baby due in 3 weeks, and I just had to take to responsibility and crack on.
Up with the larks, I quickly went into full on DIY mode, and as every woman knows, and as corroborated by Diet Coke ads, a man going into DIY mode is a beautiful thing; but first, pop the kettle on, and have a bloody good think. Thinking done, it was time for action.
As every painter and decorator will tell you, good painting, requires a good brush. My granddad always taught me the value of a good paint brush, how to look after it, clean it, and store it. I treat paintbrushes how I treat my penis; I wait until it goes hard, then I let the bin man have it. Hahaha I’m joking, of course. But only about the bin man. I buy some new ones every time I decorate. There must be a good 50/60 rock hard paintbrushes around the house, but I’m sure they’ll come in handy one day.
First trip to B&Q. Manly. I start to paint. Ten minutes in and I’ve got nowhere. The blown vinyl I’m covering is full of attitude. “Fuck off with that brush” it said. “Use a pad or a roller”. “Errr I-I-I-I don’t have a pad or a roller” I blurted, a bit upset. “Not my problem, dickhead” said the talking wallpaper. So back to B&Q. I got a paint pad. Nice it was. Fluffy. Wallpaper was right, he liked being rubbed with that. We had a pretty nice afternoon, me, Pad and Wallpaper, worked well together, and when the wife came home, we knew we’d made each other look good. I finished on the Sunday, having missed all the live FA Cup action that weekend, but I’d been decorating, which is more manly than football. I took the wife to a shop so we could choose new lampshades. I know how to treat a woman. We agreed on which lampshade we liked within 15 minutes. Historic. I even changed one of the light fittings because it looked a bit battered, showing off my electrical DIY prowess. It was quite a weekend I can tell you.
I surveyed my work, tweaking my nipples to add to the joyful satisfaction, only to realise my wonderful paintmanship now made the handrail look disgusting. I looked upon it how lumpy mash gets looked at on Masterchef. “You look a twat” I sneered.
I didn’t know it at the time but Handrail had heard me. “I’m going nowhere” whispered Handrail.
“I’m going to put up a new handrail” I boomed dominantly and Brian Blessedly to the wife.
“Okay” she said, considerably less impressed than fitting for such an occasion. Not put off, I spent a good 3 hours researching handrails on the internet. Time well spent I’m sure you’ll agree. Now I don’t know when it happened, but a chap called Richard Burbidge seems to have cornered the highly lucrative “bits for stairs” market. He has his bits all over the place. So well done to him. I went to look at B&Q again. Perused Mr Burbidge’s bits, chose the one I liked, and quickly deduced, using my own brain, and without any help at all, that a 4m long piece of wood will not fit in my car. Not even with the seats down and the glove box open. “Bollocks” I thought. So I went home, dejected, to look at my nice new paintwork, and grubby handrail; the handrail which laughed at me, while jiggling it’s bollocks and making a “wanker” hand gesture.
Chatting to a friend that night, he offered to fetch it as he had use of a van. Ah ha! Marvellous! He brought it, it was lovely. I laid it on the stairs so the old handrail could look at it. I hope that on the inside, the old handrail died. But the old handrail had other ideas. “MY FIXINGS ARE 30 YEARS OLD AND COVERED IN 8 LAYERS OF PAINT YOU COCK” it shouted.
There was a split second in my head where I wanted to spit at it and kick it, but I’m better than that, I looked underneath him and my eyes lasered in on his brackets. God, he was right. Handrail smiled. I fucking hated him. Days passed. Every time I went to the toilet or to bed, I could hardly bring myself to look at him. The smug, scruffy bastard. He knew there was little I could do. He knew our 3 year old and heavily pregnant wife relied on him for safety, and I couldn’t do anything with our daughter around. The atmosphere on the stairs was tense.
Then, came judgement day. The wife and daughter were going out, yet Handrail looked defiant when I approached with my toolbox. “You look like a wanker with that” said Handrail, “been watching Grand Designs have we ya dateless bastard?”
“Fuck off Handrail”, I snarled and I got out my cordless screwdriver/drill. 18V. I sensed him quiver. But Handrail was right. After I’d chipped the half inch of paint off his brackets, his screws looked pathetic, but I was ill prepared for their tenacity. They had been soaked in lead based paint for years. They were knackered. Rusty from lead poisoning and any sign of thread on the head had long since vanished. I rammed my pozi-drive into their rotten heads, but there was nothing to grip. Not even with the full force of my chunky torso bouncing the drill against them, and the addition of the usually dependable “FUCKING COME ON” were they ever going to move.
What happened in the next 90 minutes, is not something I wish to divulge in too much detail. I took a hacksaw to Handrail. He didn’t even whimper. I’ve never seen anyone endure torture like that and not make a sound. His silence shook me to my core. And as I sawed through the last bracket, his stiff body crashing onto the stairs, he summoned all his strength, and shouted defiantly; “FREEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM”.
Silence. There was no-one shouting for mercy, there were only tears and muffled sobs from the onlookers, his friends closed their eyes, trying to share his agony, to ease his pain. I thought I heard a sparrow fly overhead, who carried his soul away.
Something inside me knew I had to turn him over so he couldn’t see me removing his fixings from the wall, which had to be drilled and attacked with pliers, a hammer, and a screwdriver. Even though I hated him, I didn’t want him to see that. I removed the brackets one by one, most of them vomiting black dust as I removed their lifeless corpses from the wall. No prayers were spoken as I put their remains in an Asda carrier bag, and mopped the sweat from my brow.
I removed the first brand spanking new shiny bracket from its packaging, and went to screw it on the wall. The fixing plate was smaller than the one I took off. None of the screw holes lined up. “Bollocks” I shouted. “What’s wrong?” said the wife. “I’m going to have to fill and redrill all these fucking holes”.