Patricia is my middle name   Leave a comment

“Just no” story.

Hello, dear reader, and allow me to recount a tale so that you might not make the same mistakes as I.

Some moons ago I purchased a house. It was in a state of disrepair, not least because its previous owners’ enthusiasm for all kinds of do-it-yourself and home-improvement was only matched by their incompetence.

Perhaps their second-favourite activity – for there can be no doubt that their very favourite was drilling holes in the walls and inserting wall-plugs – was painting. They painted walls and ceilings, as you might expect, and skirting-boards and doorframes. They painted the tiles in the kitchen. They didn’t even quell their fervour for windows or the panes of glass above the doorways. And most relevant to our story, they painted radiators. And how!

Now, dear reader, the previous occupants did not conform to common best-practice methods when applying their chosen pigmentation, such as removing old paint before applying new, or sanding down surfaces so that paint could both adhere securely without building up an inch-thick layer. No, for them was the art of liberal application with a trowel, regardless of the surface’s state. For who could want a careful, smooth coat of paint, when a thick (and yet still occasionally patchy), running, flaking coat built up layer-by-layer, decade-by-decade, is an option? Not them, dear reader, not them.

As it was with the rest of the house, it was with the radiators. One day, dear reader, it was a radiator’s turn to be stripped bare, as skirting-boards and walls had been stripped before. But unlike on the skirting-boards, the hot-air gun had no effect. And unlike on the walls, the scraper made no mark on the radiator’s many protective layers of paint. Power-sanders were useless and elbow-grease was wasted. Even if a method made some difference on the flat surfaces, the many carefully-crafted nooks and crannies proved inaccessible.

After considerable effort and inconsiderable result it became apparent that a different tack would have to be tried, and so, dear reader, chemical experimentation was the last resort. Foul concoctions were purchased and applied, allowed to wreak their alchemy, and vigorously scrubbed off with a fast-decaying wire brush.

As an aside, dear reader, these chemicals are purchased in two varieties: branded, and unbranded. There are two notable differences between the two: the former is considerably more expensive; and the latter is provided in a larger bottle. Both will burn your skin and your lungs and, slowly, eventually, the paint from your radiator.

The first application did not finish the job, nor even the first bottle, but there was some success where previous endeavours had so ignominously failed. By three bottles and four, five or more applications, only small patches of paint remained. A final sanding, dear reader, and the ordeal – spanning some six months – was finally complete!

Or so it was thought.

On Sunday morning it was finally time for the radiator to be primed for its new, smooth coat of paint. A last-minute examination revealed there were still lumps, and so another hour’s chipping and sanding was required before, at long last, the radiator was sprayed with primer and allowed to dry in the warm summer air.

Sadly, dear reader, that was not the end of that. For priming the radiator revealed yet more imperfections to be chipped away, more lumps to sand smooth, and so – with bad grace, it must be admitted – it was. Another coat of primer was brushed on, to cover the now-bare areas of metal, and those raised edges where the spray-primer had rubbed off, and at long last, dear reader, the radiator was left, ready to paint, in a state that was almost – but not quite – as good as new.

And so, dear reader, if you should ever find yourself in this situation, might I provide some hard-won advice: buy a new radiator.


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