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Tuesday, February 6

Dust! Anybody?

There's a lot of dust in my life at the moment. I'm not speaking metaphorically. I mean literally. Here's a fact: when you remove tiles or wallpaper, you can either weaken, or expose the existing weaknesses of the plaster behind. If you remove the plaster behind, and I recommend a mask for this job, you get a lot of dust. If you intend to put patches of plaster back in some of the holes, then you need to avoid the dust, since plaster doesn't bond well to dust.

With these things buzzing round my head, I took an odd route home after work last night. I went via B&Q. I'd chickened out of buying some PVA during one of my THREE trips to B&Q on the weekend, thinking that the plaster I'd bought would magically bond, but the thought of the plaster dropping immediately back out of the holes I was slopping it into was playing on my mind. So, off to B&Q. Anyway, I also wanted to check out skirting boards and electric mitre saws. I spent a few good minutes with each of these tasks and even bought some more grinding wheels for my angle grinder.

I needed to make a solution of 1 part PVA to 5 parts water. I also needed to stir my PVA. As I passed the Morrisons the answer hit me. I'd buy a cheapo measuring jug and some spoons. This is a cooking answer to a DIY problem. Excellent. As I was at the till with my slightly not-cheapo jug and my very cheapo spoons, I happened to discuss with the till assistant what the jug was to be used for. She was impressed. I explained that it was a man solution. "Man use jug in garage to mix paint" sort of thing. She admitted that she'd once used a knife for a screwdriver. I said that that was a very woman solution. I asked what she'd used for a hammer? A spoon? Or maybe made some pliers from two forks. I left her with the advice to use an insulated handled knife - maybe a wooden handle - for electrical screwdrivering.

Oh, how smart and clever did I feel after riffing on the subject of cutlery as tools. Oh what a smarty pants. Oh Mr Comedian, you are so intelligent, making your mockery in Morrisons. My bubble burst quite quickly as I had to spent about 6 minutes searching for my car. In my hurry to get into the shop, I'd totally failed to make any attempt to memorise where I'd parked. What a knobhead!

Back home, I made my PVA mix, mixing it like a chef might mix a custard. Then, having brushed the debris from all my plaster holes, I painted in the PVA. The holes should now be sound. This took much less time than, say, finding my car might have taken if Morrisons were a bigger store. With nothing else to tackle downstairs for the time being, I set about working on my bathroom again.

I took the radiator off in the bathroom, expecting at least some vagrant liquid to seep out of it. Of all the radiators I've removed, this is the one with the least risk. The radiator itself is headed for the dustbin. The pipes are due to be moved/replaced. The flooring is both waterproof and also headed for the dustbin. This is the radiator where it doesn't matter if it all goes wrong. It was totally empty of liquid and came off with no problems at all. Arse!

I'd already removed all the tiles and plaster from two walls of the bathroom. The walls remaining are the one with the window (partly de-tiled) and the wall at a right angle to it on the right hand side. Between the two walls, at 45% to where you'd imagine it should be pointed, is the toilet. The toilet's cistern is supported on two metal arms at eye level. I started work removing tiles on this wall. I was wary of going too close to the cistern. The way I saw this going wrong was that I'd remove some innocent looking tile and then there'd be the tile equivalent of a landslide, which would result in the cistern, full of water, falling off the wall, drenching everything and blocking my exit from the room. Then the pipe, feeding this cistern, would start gushing mains pressure water at me. There'd be no way out of the room, unless I dug through the now sodden and muddy plaster, and then the only way to get the water to stop gushing, once I'd tramped muddy footprints across what's left of my carpet, would be to cut off the water supply to the whole street again.

This was the scenario I imagined. So I was careful. And I avoided it. And I think that the arms holding the cistern are probably embedded deeply in the brickwork, but I'm not sure. I will have the toilet cut off in a couple of weeks and then remove it.

I filled four rubble sacks with... well... rubble. Then I called it a night. I'd done about 2 hours of labouring. My arms really ache. It's a bad combination of general RSI and the straining of muscles I never used to use until a hammer became my new friend.

It was around 8.30pm when I went to get a Subway sandwich. Having eaten this in the shop I returned home to warm up with my electric heater, which felt very ineffective, and watch the remainder of Catterick, Vic and Bob's 2004 comedic drama. I was immediately distracted from this by a couple of MSN sessions and an email I'd received, containing some comedy script work from another comedian. I read this a couple of times and gave a detailed dissection/assassination of it. I hope that this was useful to its author.

Eventually, the computer went off and Catterick went back on. It was a curious series which sort of worked and sort of didn't. Bob Mortimer's straight acting isn't really what it should be, and some of the scenes didn't quite work. Matt Lucas played three characters, one of whom's accent seemed to slip in and out of the cod-Indian he was aiming for. However, it was a nicely surreal piece with some excellent supporting performances from Morwenna Banks (I always liked her and now I like her more) and Tim Healy (by far the funniest delivery). Vic Reeves was, as always, on excellent character-acting form. I'd missed this series when it was first on - I was probably too busy with The Musical! or something. It was good to finally catch up.

Oh, and the title of this post, is a quote from Matt Lucas in Little Britain, which sort of wraps together the whole thing. I was trying to seal dust in, I generated some dust, and then I watched the king of dust in a DVD.


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