Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, February 17, 2023

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarium.


He thought he caught the faintest whiff of "Old Hippy" as the panels were going in, which sent his mind scurrying to simpler times, when vans had vaguely rude signs on the back windows imploring parents not to laugh lest their daughter be within, and something about "rocking" which no doubt was a reflection on shock absorbers no longer at their best.

Then he realised the scent was a mix of Ikea and the water-based varnish he'd been breathing all day, and the bubble burst, and the cost of getting to this point flashed before him, dashing all those illusions of "cheap and cheerful" styles so enthusiastically espoused by every DIY programme on television.   

In that world, someone glamorous in a pair of brand new gloves so they don't get icky, manages to look straight into your eyes with a straight face and tells you how simple the job is, then cuts to an ad break and it's done!

On the other side of the screen, it goes like this:-

  • Buy a van, have an idea, buy enough quirky patterned fabric to do the job.
  • Do a half-baked job of the fit-out, make a temporary ceiling panel, and spend a year falling out of love with the material bought in haste yet never installed.
  • With the van in pieces and a solution needed, find a quilt cover with some turtles on them that might do the job.  For added interest, do that at around midnight and discover there is only one left at the nearest shop which is only eighty or so kilometres away, and no they won't "click and collect" on that item.
  • Safely home, after a trip to Sweden and a pensioner's morning tea and because you "know about this stuff", immediately cut up the pillow slip and start testing glues, and while you're doing that, give the panels that are to be treated a freshen up with some grey "cover all" primer.
  • Three unsuccessful attempts later you realise that the stretchy lightweight cotton/rayon blend really wasn't designed to be stuck down, and the grey primer has sucked the life out of the colours.
  • Then you remember that glamorous person with the brand new gloves waxing lyrical about a product she was using to stick glitter stars on the outside of a saucepan, and in desperation you fork out twice as much as the fabric cost for the glue to stick it down, and for good measure half as much again for some white primer in sufficient quantity to cover the grey.
  • You don't test it this time because, well, testing is for pussies, and all goes surprisingly well except for the bubbles which you convince yourself will be fine as they sort of go with the underwater scene, don't they?
  • Six coats of varnish later everyone is still wondering why it's taking so long.

Well it's done now, and if it falls apart or we don't like it any more, we'll do it over again. 

I suppose.


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