My precious wife, in her wisdom, has decided that we NEED to decorate. The emphasis on the word need is in direct proportion to the strength with which she said it.

There are times when she uses the N word and it contains no more hidden meaning than any other comment. On this occasion, however, it contained all the force of any of the other times that she has felt that my involvement is required without delay.

I hadn’t noticed this lack in our home design set up until she mentioned it to me whilst I was engrossed in an exciting episode of Spooks. I tried the usual fake acknowledgements of the conversation but she seemed to mean business. I even tried to deflect things by saying that we would talk about it during the adverts but she was quick off the mark in noticing that the said prog was on BBC1.

It is not that I am against decorating, in fact I find it strangely therapeutic, it is just that it always ends up being decorating with VAT.

Take for example the conversation about colour schemes; I am politely invited (and by invited I mean compelled) to join in with the selection, knowing full well that my opinions will be put to one side like an empty tin of magnolia.

No sooner has the title sequence started at the end of my favourite TV series and I am asked a growing number of questions that I am both too tired and unequipped to answer.

‘How much would a new carpet cost for this room’ she says signalling that she has more in mind than a few pots of emulsion.

‘A lot more than hiring a steam cleaner’ I reply pretending to be helpful but in actuality trying to apply the metaphorical brakes.

The conversation continues being punctuated only by my search for the tape measure in the drawer specifically designated as a ‘safe place’ for all those things that you use once a year. After ten minutes of muttering under my breath with my hands in the drawer I attempt to decide the required curtain size using a six-inch (and by six inches I mean 15.24mm) school ruler and a length of string.

The conversation only ends when I agree to visit the DIY centre the following weekend.

We arrive at the aircraft hanger filled with overpriced symbols of western aspiration (a little deep for a Saturday morning I know but I am still applying those metaphorical brakes) late enough to avoid all the retired folk who couldn’t sleep and so queued for the shop to open.

My plan was clear; paint, brushes, pay go for lunch. My wife’s plan was to spend years (and by years I mean too much time on a Saturday) looking at paint in very boring shop.

In truth we spent most of the time trying to decide whether we preferred Amber Spirit or Moroccan sunset; both of which were a kind of yellow and seemed to be indistinguishable from each other. We then had a dialogue (and by dialogue I mean argument) about which white we preferred which seemed to me to be a bizarre situation for two reasons; firstly, they were all white and the only reason we could see any difference was because we had them side by side in the shop, which of course would be the case in our hallway. Secondly, I was engaged in the conversation even though I didn’t care which version of white we chose. It is as if I had been conditioned by the surroundings to actually want to have an opinion.

I made the right decision in the end and agreed that my bride knew more about colour choices than me, thus both speeding up the process and making the possibility of eating chicken in harmony a reality.

I can now report that painting has at last started and were as during the selection stage I was effectively redundant somehow now I am needed more than anyone else in the household so that whilst I watch Amber Spirit dry my wife watches the next episode of Spooks.

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