Wrting: Ketchup on the decorating

“Alright Elsie, I’ll get on to it today.” Bill put his hands in the air in surrender to Elsie’s stern gaze. She had every right to be annoyed with him, he had promised to redecorate the living room for the past three weekends. The thing was, his love of Portsmouth Football club tended to get in the way, he’d rather be at the match than picking paint samples with Elsie, where they could never agree on a colour.

It had to be done, Elsie had the look of his old army commander during the war – he couldn’t worm his way out of doing his chores this time.

With a hefty sigh he got to his feet and went to get the two tins of ivory paint that had been stashed under the stairs. “Just keep the kids out of my way would you? The last thing I need is to trip over Janet’s dolls or trodding on one of Paul’s motor cars” Bill grumbled as he fetched the tray and brushes from under the sink.

Smiling at her husbands grumbles Elsie felt like she’d won the war single handedly. She grabbed her navy trench coat and swapped her slippers for her dark pumps. “Come on kids,” she called from the hallway, “we’re off down the clubhouse to see auntie Millie and uncle Doug for a bit, your daddy’s got some jobs to do.” Paul and Janet rushed to the doorway where they hastily put on their coats and shoes, their game of snakes and ladders lay abandoned on the living room floor, they were excited to get going because a visit to see their aunt and uncle meant fish and chips and maybe an ice cream if they were extra good which was a rare treat.

Elsie gave her husband a peck on the cheek as he rummaged through the drawers for the brushes. Bill grunted and waved his hand as Elsie called over her shoulder as she shut the front door “And don’t forget to cover the settee with a dust sheet, we’re still paying it off from Mum’s catalog!” With that the door clicked shut behind them.

Bill was glad of the peace, he could finally hear himself think without Elsie and the Kids chewing his ear off. Before he forgot he pulled the furniture into the middle of the room so he could get to the walls and then covered up Elsie’s beloved green corduroy settee with a rather tatty dust Sheet.

Bill dipped the paint brush into the paint tray and began to cover up the nicotine stained walls left by the previous tenant with the ivory paint. He enjoyed doing the job and wondered why he’d put it off for so long. He began to hum away with the radio and as a Glenn Miller favourite from his and Elsie’s courting days came on he even started doing a little boxstep!

An hour into the job all was going so well and the wall was half finished. What he didn’t count on was Jock, their Wesie pup who came running in through the living room. Damn and blast that dog! Bill thought as he tried to catch him before he dived into the paint tray, Paul was supposed to have locked him outside this morning! Jock was no Match for poor Bill’s sciatica and left a trail of ivory paw prints on the wood flooring.

“You blasted dog!” Bill shook his fist at the mischievous menace and practically threw him back outside ignoring the dogs whimpering and locked the back door.

So Bill was left to scrub the wooden floor which made him feel his age, cursing the dog. Finally after an hour of scrubbing the floor was finally clean and Bill got up from the floor despite the aching in his knees and continued painting. If he didn’t get this done today he’d never hear the end of it from Elsie.


Two hours later Bill had finally finished. He stood back to admire the glossy wall and celebrated with a well deserved mug of tea.

His back and knees ached like hell but at least Elsie would be pleased and hoped he’d be greatly rewarded in bed that night.

As the rain thumped down Bill decided that Jock should have learnt his lesson by now so Jock was allowed back into the house after being throughly towelled off. Despite the mutts mishap earlier Bill was rather fond of the cheeky beggar and gave him a scratch behind the ears as both master and dog settled back into the armchair.

Bill only realised that he’d nodded off when he heard Elsie and the kids clattering through the front door.

“Hello gang! How was it down the club? Did you have fun?” Four year old Janet kissed her dad on the cheek whilst babbling on about ice cream and the penny slots.

Elsie was shedding her coat as she walked in with hot parcels of fish and chips. Her beautiful face broke into a beaming smile as she noticed the gleaming wall where the dining table was pushed up against. “Oh Bill, it’s lovely! Thank you,” She pecked her husband on the cheek making Bill blush, “was it an easy job?” Elsie set the parcels down and began to set the table.

“Well let’s just say I had a little help from Jock.” Bill said wryly as he sat at the head of the table and began unwrapping the delicious parcels. Elsie opened her mouth to say more but Bill but his hand up, “it’s a long story love, I’ll tell you later”. Paul and Janet ran in after tidying away their toys from earlier and sat at the table licking their lips. Elsie sat down and began to rely Milie and Doug’s latest drama and then he saw a flash of red as Paul shook the tomato sauce bottle and saw it splatter all over the gleaming wall. Bill fumed. It put a new spin on ‘ketching up’ with the decorating that’s for sure!

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