Inviting trouble

I suffer periodically from this disease — painteritis — maybe once every six years. The symptoms are allergies bringing on red eyes, incessant sneezing and headaches. Also prevalent are IBS (Irritable Behaviour Syndrome) and CTT (Compulsive Temper Tantrums). The suffix ‘itis’ denotes disease, deriving from Greek, caused by the first part of the word — in this case the specific genus of house painters.

Like most diseases, this one could have been avoided. Unlike most diseases this one was directly invited in. I could not bear the state of the bedroom, the kitchen and the balconies any longer. Thus the onset of the disease. They trooped in — six of them plus the supervisor, all rough looking, in paint splashed trousers and tattered tee shirts, with bandana like cloths around their foreheads, looking for all the world like Mexican bandidos about to launch guerrilla warfare. But appearances are deceptive, for they were really extremely polite, even if being inconsiderate on certain issues. And they set to work, talking all the time, scraping, putting prime coats with steady brush strokes, carrying around their own two dilapidated wooden ladders and my own sleek aluminium ones.

Swathes of paint dazzled my eyes. It was difficult to distinguish between oyster pink and oyster beige, rose beige, grey tinted rose and rose tinted grey, mushroom pink and mushroom rose, or oatmeal pink and oatmeal beige. This one, I said, jabbing at one small rectangle among so many equal sized rectangles, whereupon the supervisor said: “Are you sure you want this, madam, and not this?” And I would seethe in a cauldron of indecision. My husband of course, was all for stopping everything on the second morning itself and said: “I think my blood pressure is rising. You make the decision.”

Of course, they came with just their clothes and two ladders. They needed from me buckets, brooms, cloths, glasses for their endless supply of water and tea, etc. When I asked my top-work woman, Mary, why the chairs had not been dusted, she went into a sulk and said she had no duster cloth as they had appropriated all of them. One advantage was, that in all the moving, I found some treasures — my father’s walking stick collection (under the bed), a stack of old photos ( behind the books) an old stamp album (under the sofa), etc.

To give credit where it’s due, they finished in five days and I am left with a very dusty house and clean walls and ceilings. And my IBS and CTT have disappeared. So have my sneezing, red eyes and headaches. In fact, suddenly the world looks wonderfully rosy.

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