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'Watching Paint Dry'

Updated on December 30, 2016

"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!

The Gallery

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

Painter 'Laurence Stephen Lowry'
Painter 'Laurence Stephen Lowry' | Source

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!"

Another Lowry

A football (Soccer) match naturally!
A football (Soccer) match naturally! | Source

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'

LS Lowry
LS Lowry | Source

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.'

Changing shape

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?

Watching the paint 'dry' with Mr John Constable
Watching the paint 'dry' with Mr John Constable | Source

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.

Blessings

Lawrence

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    • kbdressman profile image

      kbdressman 8 weeks ago from Harlem, New York

      What a fun post! It would be really neat to be able to go spend a few minutes in the settings of old photos and paintings, especially those of our ancestors. I really enjoy Family History work and would love to be able to ask a few of my deceased relatives a few questions!

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      KB.

      Glad you liked the post, it partly stems from some research I'm doing into my family history, but also the song in the video just says it all really.

      Glad you liked it, and keep researching the stuff you want to know, as they'll have left clues that'll tell you!

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 8 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      What a unique take on "watching paint dry"...and a great touch adding the "Constable" at the end. A great response to Ann's challenge, Lawrence.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 8 weeks ago from SW England

      Great fun and what a great idea! I never thought someone would translate that to a gallery! (btw, did you realise a couple of paras are repeated? - oversight obviously!)

      Love the way you've stepped into the painting. I love Lowry's work and I remember that song too; it was a catchy tune.

      Well done Lawrence and thanks for taking up the challenge.

      Ann

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      John

      Glad you liked it. You said I should 'give it a go' so I did!

      I really enjoyed writing it.

      Lawrence

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 8 weeks ago from SW England

      Have also added the link for this to my challenge hub.

      Ann

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Ann

      Thanks for the 'heads up' on the paragraphs, I wrote most of the story in another program and thought I'd got all the 'glitches'

      Hope it didn't spoil the story for you, but it's almost midnight here, and I'm being told I'm on 'pancake' duty tomorrow, so I'll fix them up then.

      As for the art gallery, I just couldn't resist it, I was going to write it about 'Constable' but Lowry wouldn't 'move over' so I figured the muse wanted him as the artist!

      Blessings

      Lawrence

      Thank you for adding the link.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 8 weeks ago from SW England

      It didn't spoil the story at all. Constable would be a good one too; sort of a natural transition from your rôle in this one!

      You're welcome.

      Ann

    • Norine Williams 8 weeks ago

      "Watching paint dry" reminds me of "...changing from glory to glory..." (II Corinthians 3:18)!

      We're still 'a work in progress' and are "Constables" in the progression of our "changing!"

      lol

      Blessings

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 8 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Very creative twist to the prompt. Great work, Lawrence. I never saw this coming. :)

      bill

    • Norine Williams 8 weeks ago

      You see how MOST realize there is a GOD (come alive) but become stagnated by traditions, teachings and false doctrines (aka Religion) consequently becoming complacent (return to non-moving objects) hence not "changing from glory to glory?"

      Look through "Spiritual eyes" and you will "see!"

      Blessings

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Ann

      That's kind of why it's there at the end, I can remember as a teenager going to the Tate gallery in London, walking past Rembrandts, Picassos, and all the others because I wanted to see both these artists!

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Norine

      I hadn't really thought if it that way, but yeah, it does make sense.

      To me, it was more like two 'outsiders' looking on, one finds it 'boring' like 'watching paint dry' so he sees nothing.

      The other sees something that peaques his interest, next thing it's enveloped him and he's made welcome!

      Glad you enjoyed it though.

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      After reading yours and Jodah's reply to the challenge I couldn't resist, and the muse wouldn't give it a rest so I had to!

      The paintings hang in the Tate gallery in London and the story 'just flowed' from there!

      Loving the fact you 'didn't see it coming'

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Norine Williams 8 weeks ago

      You see how people can read the SAME STORY ( one through "Spiritual" eyes and another with "carnal" eyes) and see differently?

      If we "Walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16), we can see as GOD commands us to "see" (John 4:23-24)!

      Enjoyed it!

      Blessings

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Norine

      That's the 'beauty' of the story, each of us will see something different, yet each is just as valid.

      Lawrence

    • Norine Williams 8 weeks ago

      Unfortunately, it's not the 'beauty' of the Bible but man reads as though he's reading just another 'story' when GOD has told us "The letter killeth" (II Corinthians 3:6) and only "Spirit" guidance (John 14:26) "is the ONLY valid" THING (I Corinthians 2:13-16)!

      You've proven why there are 33,000 plus denominations in Christianity alone; they "read the letter" without HELP from the HOLY SPIRIT!

      There's NOTHING "beautiful" about "using one's OWN UNDERSTANDING" (Proverbs 3:5) when STUDYING Scripture and if you think each of "our own" interpretations of Scripture is "just as valid" you're saying Christ has billions of minds which defies Scripture!

      Psalms 133:1; Eccles 4:9-12; John 17:20-26; Acts 1:14; 2:1; 46; 4:24; 5:12; 8:8; 15:25; Romans 12:4-16; 15:5-6; I Corinthians 2:16; II Corinthians 13:11-14; Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 4:3-6; 11:16; Philippians 2:2; 5; 3:15-16; I Peter 3:8-12+++++++

      I Corinthians 1:10 "Let there be NO DIVISIONS (same mind) among you" so how can we "each see something different, yet each is just as valid?"

      Norine

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Norine

      This story isn't about the Bible, it's a story.

      Good points though.

      Lawrence

    • Norine Williams 8 weeks ago

      Yes, it is!

      And so is LIFE!

      Blessings

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 8 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well done friend, really a cool angle.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 8 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      It was a lot of fun, I could let the muse 'run riot'.

      Glad you enjoyed it

      Lawrence

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 weeks ago from England

      Oh Wow! loved that Lawrence! any story that involves someone jumping so to speak into a painting! but I love lowry's paintings anyway! I live down the south of England, but do have ancestors from up north, so love to hear that song too. and your story was awesome!

    • Lawrence Hebb 7 weeks ago

      Nell

      I figured you'd like the story. I really enjoyed writing it, and 'meeting' an ancestor was something special!

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 7 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      One word, Lawrence - Fascinating!

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 7 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Glad you enjoyed it, I really enjoyed writing the story, it kind of 'just took off'

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 weeks ago

      Yery interesting. Sort of like Night Gallery meets Night at the Museum.

    • Lawrence Hebb 7 weeks ago

      Robert

      That thought did occur to me, but only when I read the story 'just after posting it!

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

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