'Watching Paint Dry'
"Watching paint dry"
"I 'ate this bloody job" Jack told me the other day, he was talking in his usual strong Yorkshire accent, and it was surprising I could even understand him, when he gets 'wound up' he can't help himself, and the broad 'Yorkie' as he calls it, comes streaming out at full steam, "it's like watching sodding paint dry." He went on "it's that bloody boring!"
You know, a couple of weeks ago I'd have agreed with him! It was boring, Now? well, let me tell you a story.
I did say "a few weeks ago" didn't I? Truth is, it was only last night. One of the strangest nights at work, no, make that THE strangest night I've ever had! Now where was I, I was doing the usual rounds, checking all the doors, there are no windows where I work, so I didn't have to worry about them, but doors all secure, air conditioning working properly, got to make sure of that, make sure the paint actually stays 'dry'. Can't have moisture ruining the paint, not this paint anyway!
Now, where was I, ah yes, I was doing the usual rounds, checking all the doors, there are no windows where I work, so I didn't have to worry about them, but doors all secure, air conditioning working properly, got to make sure of that, make sure the paint actually stays 'dry'. Can't have moisture ruining the paint, not this paint anyway!
I forgot to tell you, I'm a security guard, my job's working the night shift at a Gallery, you might have heard of the place, but anyway, I'm getting distracted, where was I, Oh that's right, I was doing my usual rounds.
The place was pretty dark, so I was using my flashlight, I was in the 'Lowry' room, the one dedicated to the artist LS Lowry, one of my favorites. Naturally, I was checking everything, I noticed something, well, I thought I did!
Movement! Something or someone was moving about. I scanned the room, no no one there. "You're imagining things!" I whispered to myself, "too much time on your own in this job!"I was doing a quick scan with the flashlight, there it was again, but it was bloody strange as I could swear I saw one of the characters in a painting move!" Don't be stupid" I told myself, "not possible, it's a bloody painting, just dry paint, on a canvas right?" I was kind of asking myself. Probably good really, that there wasn't anyone else there that is, I'd have been a sure candidate for the little men in white overcoats, and the padded rooms.
The Painting comes alive
Is the paint really dry?
But the paint wasn't dry, it couldn't be! It was coming alive, people were in the streets, they were walking and talking, going about their lives and generally looking like a hard day's work had just passed.
A siren went off, it took me a minute to recognize it, it was a factory 'hooter' as we used to call them, telling the workers it was shift change time! and all so real, "but it's a bloody painting" I heard a voice shout, I realized it was me shouting it, just then I staggered back, there should have been a muffled sound of my shoes on the carpet, what I heard took my breath away, the little that I had left that is!
'Clip, clip, clip' the sound of hobnailed boots on, I looked down "A BLOODY COBBLED STREET!"
The painting comes alive
'Clip, clip, clip' the sound of hobnailed boots on, I looked down "A BLOODY COBBLED STREET!" I shouted at no one in particular.
I can tell you, they were real stone, those cobbles were, and they hurt like hell when I fell back. I landed on my arse and sent shooting pains right up the spine, my head flew back and clunked something hard, damn near knocked myself out, then again, there should have been a wall, a plastered painted interior wall. it was also when I noticed that I had a chin strap that my hat didn't normally have, that was strange, but it probably saved me being knocked out cold.
There was a wall, but it wasn't plastered or painted, it was rough brick and cement! "I'm in the bloody painting!" I don't know if I thought it, whispered it or shouted it, all I remember was thinking it! I didn't have time to think, as the next thing I saw a wheelbarrow hurtling towards me, a voice shouting out, "Hey up mistah! Out the way" I scrambled to my feet just as the wheelbarrow stopped, two lettuce came flying off, I managed to catch one, but the other rolled down the street followed by a young boy, about twelve by the look of him, "me
I scrambled to my feet just as the wheelbarrow stopped, two lettuce came flying off, I managed to catch one, but the other rolled down the street followed by a young boy, about twelve by the look of him.
"Me mum's gonna kill me if I lose it!" He shouted as he flew past me as fast as his feet would carry him, he caught it up a couple of feet further.
Picking the lettuce up he turned round and stopped dead in his tracks, a look of dread slowly spreading across his cheeky face."Sorry officer" he mumbled sheepishly, "didn't mean to be rude!"
The Fair at 'Daisy Nook'
Strange, but a nice strange!
I looked around, I couldn't see any Police, there weren't any in the painting, and there weren't any in the street!
I started brushing myself off, that's when I noticed it."A zebra crossing on my sleeve!" I was stunned, not only that, but I'd been wearing a short sleeved shirt, it had grown, and turned dark blue, almost black, then it dawned. "I'm a bloody copper" I mumbled, at least I hope I only mumbled it! My 'Security guard's uniform had turned itself into a Police uniform!
"Course you are officer!" the boy replied, I could see, he was a bit confused, and more than a little amused.
"Sorry officer" the face quickly turned back to trepidation, "wasn't meaning to be rude, 'onest!" he sounded pleading. I was reaching for my flashlight, it seemed there was daylight, and I didn't need it, but it wasn't a flashlight, it was a police issue truncheon! this was getting weird, but strange as it seems, it was a nice weird.
That was when I noticed that it was light, not bright light, but natural, or at least as 'natural' as it can be through the smog.
It wasn't a gray cold kind of smog, but more the smog that comes from a thousand welcoming coal fires burning bright, waiting for the 'breadwinner' to come home, a welcoming smell of baking bread, cooking meat and a wonderful Lancashire 'ot pot' as we call it. It wasn't my home, but I felt 'at home.'
Even the people were changing, in the paintings, they were like 'Matchstick men' but these were changing, they were slowly beginning to look more and more human, just like real people!
"Who are yer boy?" I heard a voice ask, It took a minute to realize it was my voice, but it sounded so different, like one with some authority! No one listens to the night security guard, or even to a 'copper' nowadays, but back when the painting was done, that was a different story!
"Jimmy Smith officer" the boy replied, obviously worried, the only thing worse than a clip round the ear from a 'copper' was having him tell your Mum and Dad you did something, that happens and you "ain't gonna be able to sit for a week!"
Hang on a minute, My Grandma's name was Smith! her Dad was a 'Jimmy Smith' and he was from round these parts, could it be?? "Nah, don't talk bloody soft!" I heard the voice in my head say.
A tribute to the artist (Sing along if you want to)
Past and present
"Where'd you live?" I found myself asking.
"Down on Bank Street sir" the boy was really worried, "But I'm old enough to work, 'onest!"
"Is that number seven?" I asked pretending to take a notebook out of my pocket.
His face turned as white as a sheet, "How'd you know officer?" he was almost shaking.
"S' alright boy, I'm not gonna say anything to your Mum and Dad" I replied, just thought I recognized you, that's all! What I didn't tell him was that's where my Great Granddad lived!
And I did, I'd tried to work out where I knew his face, truth was it's in an old photo that Grandma had, I've still got it somewhere, not sure where, but I've still got it!
"Look," the boy started again. "Mum's gonna kill me if I don't get these delivered officer" he pointed to the veggies in the wheelbarrow.
"Then you better run along then!" I've no idea why I said that but as soon as he turned and started walking down the street, it was like everything began changing back to the painting with the Matchstick men, the paint was drying right there just as I watched it dry.
Watching paint dry!
Jack said this job was as boring as "watching paint dry!"
I wonder if he ever really saw the paint in the first place?
As for me, I can't wait to watch that paint dry again, Last night as I watched it drying I was a 'Constable' but tonight, I've decided I'm going to go watch the paint dry with a painter called 'Constable' and I can't wait!
Is it dry yet?
This story was written in response to the following challenge:
“Choose the most boring object or subject you can think of and write an engaging, entertaining, fascinating hub about it. You can make your own choice or write about one of the following:
- watching paint dry
- a blank floorboard
- monotonous music
- airport runway
- lying ill in bed with bandages on your eyes and no music
- a wilted leaf in a pocket
Hope you enjoyed the story
It's probably still a 'work in progress' but the darn thing hasn't let me go for a couple of days now so I just had to write the story down a bit.
One of my favorite songs growing up was the video clip here 'Matchstalk men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. It was written as a tribute to the artist L.S. Lowry when he died in 1977 and was a huge chart hit at the time, that's when we fell in love with his work as a region!
Salford isn't that far from where I really did grow up, so I can identify a lot with the song and I've no idea why I got the urge to write the story, but as soon as I saw it I knew it was going to be 'Watching paint dry' and about Lowry.
Hope you enjoyed the story
Let me know what you thought.