It all started really well on a lovely day in June last year. I’d got the day off and Anita had given me her usual list of jobs I needed to complete; main one - the fences at the side of the house. So you can understand the layout of our grand estate (that is, 3-bedroomed linked-detached). I will explain. As you look at the front of the house, the garage is to the right (‘linked’ to the neighbour’s house next door), the front door and porch is in the middle, and to the left is the side entrance to the garden. Further to the left (try to picture this in your mind) is the bottom of each of the gardens attached to the houses in the next street, which is at right-angles to our street. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, these are the fences crying out for a new coat of Fenceguard. Also, at the front of the entrance (before I carried out my maintenance duties, and by the way, we call it the tradesmen’s entrance) was a very rusty metal gate. When we first moved in we could hear knocking and clanking in the night. I’m sure Anita is wrong when she says I’ve quoted Benny Hill’s song too many times: ‘was it the trees-a-rustling or the hinges of the gate, or Ernie’s ghostly gold tops a-rattling in their crates’. She’s probably right. She’s also right when she says I need a new script writer.
So, two jobs regarding the front gate - rub it down to the bare metal and paint it (black, says Anita). We’ll padlock it and put a ‘stopper’ at the back of the gate to prevent it from clanking. Stopper is my technical term for a house-brick.
Now, for security reasons, that is, when we first moved in, to stop our hyperactive six-year-old from escaping (possibly climbing the metal gate) we had a proper man in who fitted a robust wooden gate half-way down the side passageway. Hope this makes sense. So, picture the scene, a new-ish wooden gate to which we added bolts that cannot be reached from the outside. This is where my problem started.
On the fateful day, I moved all my tools, tub of Fenceguard, sandpaper and black metallic paint and brushes into the passageway, between the two gates. I used Fenceguard for the wooden gate and started to ‘fenceguard’ the three side fences (bottom of the garden for the neighbours to the left). Anita called me, suggesting a break. I left the metal gate unlocked, walked round the back of the house, bolting the wooden gate, nice and secure, nice and snug, and went in the house via the backdoor.
Sandwich, cake, nice cuppa and one hour later, this is where I made my big mistake. For some reason only known to the Gods, and I will never be able to explain it, I carried all the other stuff I needed (towel, rags for wiping off excess paint and so on) through the house, out the front door, and into the side passageway. It’s now about one o’clock and Anita calls out:
‘Going to see Mom, see you at tea-time.’
‘Ok love; send my best to your Mom.’
I love my mother-in-law to bits, but I’d rather be rubbing down and painting a metal gate, thank you very much.
It took about half an hour to finish rubbing down the gate, and maybe about the same to paint it. I carefully closed the gate, padlocked it and placed the brick to stop the clanking. Shall we call it the anti-clanking brick? Anyway, I am now in the passageway, locked outer gate, and if you remember, locked inner gate. Trapped like a dog. Correction, a dog would have had more sense....