Have I spent the day wrestling with the thirty odd new items to go in the shop? No I have not. I have spent the day wrestling with the kitchen sink.
This is odd to say the least, sink wrestling having more than a touch of the Salvador Dalis about it, especially when I tell you my concertina blind and metal rib radiator are up next. Before I have a go with them I’ve just painted every flipping twiddle of the wrought iron side gate in a howling gale so extremely fresh it made my nose bleed. There is nothing quite like the frustration of trying to finish the drips on your curlicues before the blood soaks into your teeshirt and makes you even colder.
The reason for all this drama was that the builder walked out. He walked out without saying he was doing so, having appeared on Friday as normal and disappeared in short order when I popped upstairs. I rang him several times last week and he finally answered my husband today and said he’d decided we weren’t paying him enough. As I’d just told him I was going to pay him an extra amount he hadn’t asked for on Monday, I was a bit surprised.
One of the features of magazine writing I found over the years was that if I adopted a catch phrase or witty saying it nearly always came true. It seems the same force is at work here. How many times have I written that you cannot get the staff? I really must start writing something along the lines of …….and then Jane wrote a best seller and had a nice holiday somewhere warm.
Meanwhile we were annoyed to find the builder, having opened the sink package, as he had fitted sinks before, had carefully thrown the instructions away. As we had never fitted the main source of water for all purposes in the house and were quite keen to get it right, the other half was obliged to go to the DIY shop and get them to open a new sink package so he could photograph the instructions. Printing them off was more of a challenge, mainly because he removed the printer connection to plug his phone into the computer, though things got easier after half an hour when he figured out what the problem was.
As our schedule had been completely subverted, whilst he was doing this in the warm I went outside and painted the gate with the noxious black stuff and bled thoughtfully on the plastic sheeting under it, as I couldn’t remove the rubber gloves, nicely coated with black, in order to wipe my nose and then get them back on again, cleanly. Blood washes off, metal paint doesn’t. Then I had lunch at threeish and then we got started on the sink.
You never think of sinks as razor sharp do you? They are, underneath, where you have to feel with your fingers to insert the clamps. In the drawing the person fitting the sink has turned it upside down. This is not possible when your taps and waste are connected, though the nice sharp holes every two inches for the clamps to go into are easy to locate with a soft little finger end. It took about half an hour for two thick blocks to realise the clamps had been designed for fitting to thick blockboard, not strong plywood, and twenty minutes to cut compensatory wooden spacers and glue them in.
To go with the sink and happily not misplaced was a roll of sticky both sides foam. I think that undersells it a bit. To go with the sink was a roll of the stickiest foam I have felt and bonded to instantly for ever. It is so sticky it could stop the universe expanding or gather up the edges of a black hole into a neatly pursed little OooH of stickiness. Unrolled round the sink edge sticky side down and hanging on to the tiles like a drunk in a clinic with a party pass, it is well behaved for any given value of OK until you try to ease the sink into the hole, locate all the sharp clamps to the inside that are invisible, by feel, while holding the sink, clamped to the drain by the plumbing, working against its inclination (remembering the floor slopes that way and then, that way, and so does the work top) and gravity. Though this wasn’t too bad. For any given value of not too bad (but just wait a minute, we’ll see what we can do). It was when one of us was doing all that and the other then peeled the tape off, exposing the stickiest substance in the universe to anything within six inches in any direction that it got really interesting. It was so dreadful my husband even forgot to swear. And breathe. It would be tricky to say who was most stickily intertwined, us, our arms, the razor clamps, gravity or the sticky tape and everything else. If you weren’t married to the person you were doing it with before you started, you’d have to afterwards.
So once the sink is permanently stuck in the wrong location all that remains is to score the excess with a scalpel and peel it off everything it’s not meant to be stuck to with your teeth, fingernails and scalpels, knives, putty spreaders, grouting tools and teaspoons, if necessary, redo all the plumbing that squirts everywhere when you try to scrape the glue off what remains of your skin under the tap and go shopping for PTFE tape, spare pipe washers, silicone sealant, instant grout to fill in the gaps at the back of the sink and so on.
Tomorrow if the glue on the fillers has set we shall clamp it and then get started on the radiator, the trim for the top of the cupboards which the builder abandoned, having cut and mitred one piece and left two odd lengths, which I hope are enough, work out how to do the slatty blind and then start on the floor.
And then I shall have some spare time to finish putting the dolls in the shop if I can work out why the zoomed pictures are not appearing.
We’d be faster if we weren’t so often interrupted by the insurance people asking for further details of the car crash and the chap who keeps trying to sell me crates of wine as an ‘investment’. Though if things go on in this way and I don’t see why not, they’ve done it all year, I may well invest sufficiently to see the kitchen as Salvador Dali would, without needing to wiggle any more sinks at all.
JaneLaverick.com – and then I wrote a best selling novel and had a holiday.