Sunday, 7 February 2016

Curtain Call

Earlier this week our new house finally got its curtains and blinds.  What a difference it has made.  Dressing a window definitely turns a house into a home.
          Having never paid attention to needlework and dressmaking at school, the matter of running up some fabric for our windows was a total non-event.  I am a deep admirer of anybody who can knit cable sweaters, crochet lacy cardigans or drape fabric over a mannequin and knock-up an amazing trouser suit.  At school it took me three terms to make a pinafore dress which, at the end of the year, I’d outgrown and failed to put a hem on.  I remember my school report saying, ‘The only thing Deborah is good at is talking.’  Anyway, I digress.  I got in touch with a well-known curtain franchise company and made an appointment.
          When the rep turned up, I was expecting a lady.  Whenever I’ve had dealings with this company before, it’s always been a woman.  So I was somewhat taken aback to see a young man on the doorstep.  In fact I’ll tell you how young he was – nineteen.  And I know this because he chattily told me so over the cup of tea I made him.
          ‘So, er, how long have you been doing this job?’ I asked casually.  Yes, I confess there was anxiety about an inexperienced teen putting up wonky curtain poles and taking incorrect measurements, and the thought of him messing up with a power drill all over the house mentally had me hyperventilating.
          ‘Nearly a year.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do after leaving school, so my mum persuaded me to come into the family business.’
          ‘Right.  And, um, “Mum” isn’t about at the moment?’
          ‘No,’ the lad smiled.  ‘It’s just me.  But don’t worry. I mostly get jobs right now.’
          ‘Oh, that’s…reassuring.’
          Tea finished, the lad confidently strode about measuring bi-folds and windows, offering advice here, holding up fabric swatches there.  We then settled down to talk prices. Haggling over, I signed the paperwork. I wasn’t quite sure what “Mum” was going to say about the lad’s quote, but I for one was absolutely delighted and almost snatched the pen out of his hand.
          Three weeks later, the young man returned with the materials.  He set down a number of cardboard and plastic boxes, opened a case of tools, and got to work.  And this was where the teenager clearly came to the fore.  Never have I seen such a spectacular mess from simply putting up curtains.  Rather than clearing up as he went along, boxes and cartons littered every available piece of floor space throughout the house.  It was chaotic.
          ‘Don’t worry,’ he said cheerfully.  ‘I’m the sort of person who clears up right at the very end.’
          ‘Right,’ I said uncertainly as the cat joyfully crash landed into a carton and the dog tore off with curtain rings hanging off her teeth.  And then there was the drilling.  Don’t get me started about the drilling.  Previous dealings with the lady of this company had seen each room being cleared up and vacuumed individually.  You’d never have known anybody had been in the place.  But by the time this young lad had finished, aside from the debris, furniture was covered in plaster dust.  It also took him double the amount of time he’d originally thought, so by the time the last curtain was hanging he was in a complete panic about his next appointment.
          ‘I’m so sorry,’ he apologised, tripping over a discarded pole and almost falling into a pile of boxes, ‘but I don’t have time to tidy up.’
          It took me three hours to clean up the plaster dust, gather the debris and restore order.  But the job is done.  We have a dressed house.  Hooray!  Which reminds me.
          A blonde goes into a computer store.  ‘Where do you keep the curtains?’ she asks a sales assistant.  ‘You won’t find curtains in here,’ he replies, ‘this is a computer shop.’  Annoyed, the blonde puts her hand on her hips and says, ‘Hellooo, my computer has windows…’

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