I had been leaving this for a few weeks whilst I had been painting some of the latest Impossimals but it has always been there at the back of my mine. It's a wooden puzzle that comes in forty pieces of varying length and you have to cut out all the pieces yourself, also there is no picture to follow. I'm of course talking about a hardwood floor from a local DIY store and the room I was about to fit this article in was the downstairs loo.
It looked a mammoth task, rip the old floor up, take off the skirting boards, sand it back, lay a foundation layer and finally cut all the pieces to fit around a wash basin, radiator, several pipes and the loo without making it look like the Chuckle Brothers had fitted it. The old floor was a wooden on I laid many years ago, it consisted of squares of five stripes of wood which alternated vertically and horizontally. It was a pig to fit and I found myself sat on the floor with a small junior hacksaw for a few days bending around the back of he u-bend, I was obviously a little more nimble in those days and possible foolhardy. The whole process took three days if I remember as each square had to be glued in place then a a heavy varnish applied to seal it.
So I sat an looked at it, tentatively I pull a piece up to see how easy it would be to remove. Voila off came a piece, then another and another, little 1inch strips. I chortled to myself, it was going to be a doddle to remove. Three house later I was cursing, the first few had little glue on them, as I progressed into the bathroom a little more I found I had been quite liberal with the glue. I eventually had to resort to the crow bar and with much huffing an puffing managed to remove the last a few hours later along with plenty of skin from my hands. The skirting boards were no better, two had been attached with screws and glue, the others had been hammered in using nails very similar to nails you would hammer into a horseshoe except these were three inches long and required yet again a bit of a prise with the crowbar.
Anyway, I'm not going to bore you with all my floor laying details or skirting board antics instead I'm going to tell you on just how bloody awkward it was to buy the flooring from a DIY outlet after talking to to possible the most boring person on earth apart from me that is.
'Excuse me, we have tried a sample and it looks like it's the right one for us, is the offer still on for two packs?' We had notice earlier that there was indeed a special two pack saving but as we are British we did the typical British thing and checked again, you know just like when you are at the train station and a queue of people form around of a member of staff to point at a train not six feet away with the words ARR Waterloo 9:15 and ask 'Does this train go to Waterloo?' To which I would love to reply, 'It does, but I'm rather afraid you have missed the battle.'
We wished we had never asked.
'Laying it yourself are you?'
'Err, yes why?'
'We have a rather accurate laying service in store, my brother used to be in Lino but had to diversify when they bought in shag piles in the seventies. He cuts a rather nice radiator ring. He once fitted a wardrobe for Lionel Blair, Una Stubbs was impressed with his handiwork and congratulated him.'
Oh no I thought, we have collared the only employee in the whole country with a brother working for the same DIY chain obsessed with 'Give Us A Clue' and a distinct possibility that they go train spot in their spare time, you can tell can't you.
'I shall give him a ring for you.'
'Hang on, we are fitting it ourselves, is the offer still on?'
'You don't want to fit it yourselves, nasty bit of work that is, you need a professional like my brother. He once turned down an offer to fit Floatex in the QEII, do you know how hard it is to fit Floatex?'
'It's that sharp when cut it can remove a mans finger in one swipe if handled incorrectly, got to respect Floatex that how my brother lost his thumb.'
'What on Floatex?'
'No, he slipped when he was cutting the skirting board and fell onto the saw.'
'Look, I don't want to sound funny, but is this offer still on or not?' I said funnily. Why do we always get the oddballs, I glanced at Jayne and she just rolled her eyes.
'Is it three packs you want?'
'No, just the two, it's a small room.'
'I'd take three, just in case as my brother says. He once fitted a bedroom with two packs only to discover the wardrobe when opened contained a full working toilet. Imagine that, a toilet wardrobe. He had to get in his van and drive all the way to Romsey to buy an extra pack, that wardrobe toilet was the bane of his life. Never again he said, never again will I not take an extra pack, you'd be a fool not to.'
'No, just the two, it really is a small room.'
'Would you like somebody to fit it for you? My brother fits floors, reasonable too considering he's a master fitter. He could fit a floor made out of jelly he's that good.'
Oh my, we leave this corner of the Twilight Zone, it went on for far too long wasting precious time of our day only to move along to the free cutting service which seemed to be operated by the Gruffalow, when we could find him that is. After asking several members of staff it took nearly fifteen minutes of standing around before he was located hiding in the front doors, I kid you not, he didn't feel like cutting that day. Sigh.
So the floor is down and it looks a treat, we didn't have to endure a professional bore or risk amputation by Floatex which is always a bonus but we do have lots and lots of little pieces of wood from the first floor. I wonder if his brother would like them...