Apply to Apply

Today’s writing group prompt of ‘varnish’ evoked memories of a year ago when yours truly embarked upon the chore of treating garden timber.

Admittedly, I did not preserve the lumber with varnish. However, as both that and the preservative oil I used are applied to wood, the prompt led me down this notional path… One could say, as Ronseal imply about their preservative products, the prompt did exactly as it said on the tin… That is, prompt me.

Last spring’s fencing task was not the most fascinating of 2022’s existential plot lines. However, not having Tom Sawyer’s skill for gaslighting friends into undertaking fence maintenance, I begrudgingly set about the task in isolation.

I’ve got to admit, I tipped my hat to Mark Twain’s eponymous rogue from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer novel for his adeptness at dodging the bullet I’d chosen to bite. After all, staining timber ramparts is a slow and laborious task, imparting as much esprit into one’s day as watching a sloth race a snail over 100 metres.

Footnote – Having never witnessed a sloth race a snail over 100 metres, detractors may argue the above is an uninformed observation… In my defence, though, I’d wager it’s a pretty decent guess.

Anyhow, last March’s attempts at getting neighbourhood passersby to Ronseal*** the garden timber met with unequivocal indifference.

*** – Ronseal is a manufacturer of timber care products. Other liniment producers are available; I just didn’t use them… I’ve neither the time or inclination to list the 8,000 creosote manufacturers… Ok, there is nowhere near 8,000 of them; however there’s more than two, so b*ll*cks to all that thoroughness baloney.

The most enthusiastic response yours truly received when endeavouring to recruit neighbourhood assistance came courtesy of a befuddled car driver. This fella, who had pulled up close-by, responding to my inquiry of “Do you fancy helping paint my fence panels, mate?” with a distracted query of “Erm,….. Excuse me, do you know the way to Hull?’

With his clear disinterest in joining my creosoting gang, I afforded him the unhelpful response of “Yes.” before wandering off without informing him the directions… Don’t tut, I’m not his bloody sat nav!!

Still is search of assistance to reduce the hours of boredom I’d endure undertaking the chore alone, I jumped in my car in search of potential timber stainers at a local shopping centre.

Perhaps understandably, my attempts to press gang a painting gang in the local mall were met with confusion and raised eyebrows. No one more surprised than a security guard at the retail outlet’s entrance. A man who I asked him to hold my staining brush while touring the centre’s corridors.

I’ve no idea why he looked so brusque when handing him the painting utensil. After all, surely his minding of the bristled implement was preferable to the jeopardy of me transporting the thing around the aisles. An act which’d introduce causing slip hazards from dripping wood preservative.

The middle age security guard, whose name was Frank, certainly seemed to have his nose put out of joint by my idiosyncratic request… Or maybe his nose it was merely out of joint because he worked in a role where the odd scuffle is inevitable… Who knows and, more importantly, who cares?!

Footnote – Well, his badge said he was called Frank… And, unless he’s part of a witness protection plan, I’ve no reason to believe Frank isn’t his real moniker... Unless, of course, he’d forgotten his badge that morning, consequently borrowing the tag of a colleague who’d finished his shift as he commenced… If that was the case, I guess it was a relief it was Frank who he was replacing, not Geraldine!… A situation which would have raised even more eyebrows.

Anyhow, my attempts to recruit people to stain my fencing in March 2022 were an epic failure. Although, I suppose, expecting a stranger to undertake such a turgid task gratis won’t have helped.

Consequently, GJ Strachan remained the sole member of this fence painting chain gang… Well, that’s if it is possible to have a chain gang of one… After all, if there is nobody to secure the chained individual to, or indeed even a chain, by very definition it isn’t a chain gang.

As I now live in an apartment in a city centre, I’ll miss not having my own garden… That being said, I won’t miss the insipid act of undertaking timber care.

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