White Christmas!

I can’t recall many years where we actually had a white Christmas when I was small…

On my desk at the office I have a desk tidy – or for the uninitiated, a pen pot.  More often than not the pen pot is systematically raided and often I’ll return to my desk to find it empty!  I then do what is more than expected of me and strop about hunting down my pens and pencil; my pencil especially.  They can often be found resting somewhere else in the office other than where they should be!

Other items of my office ‘tools’ such as erasers, stapler and pencil sharpener at one time or another have migrated to other locations around the office too.  For this reason, a good long while ago, I felt the urge to put little stickers on everything and marked them, ‘Bert’s this and ‘Bert’s’ that…  Everything but the pencil had a sticker.  The pencil I’d painted with a smooth, narrow strip of tipex.  When dry, I wrote in pen along the pencil, ‘Bert’s Pencil’.  Christened ‘Bert’ by a colleague long since gone, the name, however, stuck.  Not one for liking my name shortened,  I quite liked this nickname and have since become quite attached to it.  Anyway…

A few days since, I once again found my beloved pencil missing from the pen pot.  Although quite a bit shorter with use, as you’d expect, and the tipex flaking with age, I was still a little disgruntled that it had been usurped!  No matter where I looked, it couldn’t be found and no culprit was forthcoming.  It was with a heavy heart that I decided to give up the hunt and procure a nice new pencil.  I took care to sharpen the new tool, paint a strip of tipex and inscribe it with my ‘name’, then placed it proudly into my pen pot.  Content now and mourning for my old aging pencil was short-lived…

It was the tipex that reminded me of something much earlier in my career when I once had occasion to dab a tipex brush on the end of my nose…  Have you tried to pick dried tipex from your skin?  Almost impossible without removing some of the skin too – for over a week I had a patch of sore and red skin right on the tip of my beak!  Remembering this brought something else to mind.  Something else from way back.

A short time before every Christmas period in our home, mum and dad would give then ceilings a coat of fresh silk emulsion paint.  The walls would be painted whatever colour took mum and dad’s fancy – except for those times when the walls were clad in something disgusting, like a burgundy-flowered flock paper.  The skirting boards would more often than not received a lick of brilliant white gloss paint too…

Now often is the case that the odd pot of paint would be left out in the corner of the yard, or the little utility shed next to the coal house and the outside loo.  Oldish pots with ill-fitting lids and long-since dried runs down the sides.  On removing the lid, the white paints inside took on a brownish hue as linseed oil rose to the surface.  This could easily be stirred with a stick and the paint made good for use once again.  We always had old pots of paint tucked somewhere and this was no surprise as my eldest brother was a decorator by trade…

Once particular boxing day we small ones found ourselves out in the yard.  I remember this distinctly because one of my presents was an Evil Knievel action doll complete with stunt motorcycle – this could be made to shoot off by means of a cord that was ripped through the back-end of the bike, winding up the internals to spin the back wheel.  I wanted to make some ramps from old pieces of wood…which I did.  I wanted to paint them too…which I did.  Of course I would never be allowed to tinker with gloss so my application had to be somewhat stealthy…

Impatiently waiting for the paint to dry on my wonderful ramps, and wishing I hadn’t painted them after all because it was taking an age – naturally – one of my sisters decided to walk on past and while threatening to spill the beans on my painting activities, tapped one of my makeshift ramps with the toe of her shoe!  The ramp made contact with the paint pot which tilted quickly, however, coming to rest safely but  not without first ‘sloshing’ – is that a word? – a little of the paint which actually coated part of my brand new Evil Knievel bike!  I was furious!  I grabbed at the pot and with a flinging motion, though still firmly in my hand, drenched sis in white gloss paint!  Not satisfied that this was enough retribution, I thrust my little hand in the pot and while wrestling with a paint-covered sibling, who was beginning to imitate a banshee, I drove the palm of my hand and, as best as I could manage, covered as much of her face and hair as possible!

Boxing day.  A brother and sister stood in the yard, in the dry, freezing cold, in their underwear whilst seething parents scrubbed away sticky, brilliant-white gloss paint!  A white Christmas after all…


About Robert

A fifty-something, retired Celestial Travel Agent. Walked many paths; some good, lots bad. Meandering through the past, plodding in the present, crawling toward the future.
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