If you’re ever painted a house or flat, you
probably know that before you even open the can of paint and take out
your brush it’s important to make the walls good. This means filling
cracks in the walls, rubbing down with sandpaper and taking off the dust.
I learned all this when I was in my 20’s. Taught by my good mate,
drinking buddy and one of the hardest workers and best painters I’ve
ever seen, Steve.
Steve needed help so he asked me. His business was growing and he had
more houses to paint than he could manage on his own.
Steve was a bit of a perfectionist. His business model was 'charge more
and do the best job possible, however long it took'.
Steve reminded me of an octopus. He was very tall, slim and he had long
arms and large hands that moved effortlessly around the walls filling,
sanding and painting.
Sometimes I’d miss filling a small hole in the wall and Steve would see
it. He’d ask me, in his gentle manner, if I’d seen it. Of course, I
hadn’t because my mind was wandering. I mean, how many hours can you
concentrate on a blank wall without thinking of something else? This
amazed Steve, who always focused on the job at hand. He was like a monk
meditating, or a martial arts master wielding his paint brush like a
blond Karate Kid.
We’d paint with the radio on, swaying to the music and chatting about
books, life, politics, philosophy or anything, really.
Lunch was bread and tuna or sardines from a tin. Water from a huge
polystyrene jug and maybe some fruit. We worked very long hours during
the week and occasionally got drunk together on Friday nights. I miss
those days painting with Steve.
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