Now this may come as something of a surprise, but a lot of the things you see in adverts on the telly aren’t actually true.
We take as our text all those cheery people singing about the “Wood Preservation Society”.
They prance out into their gardens brandishing sprayers, paint-brushes and cheesy grins, do a bit of a Busby Berkeley number and Bob’s your uncle: their fences, sheds, pergolas, arbours and decking are as good as new.
Real life isn’t like that.
Take the fence between us and the next-door neighbour. It was put up ages ago by the last but one occupant of what we now fondly refer to as Dixon Manor.
And in the intervening years it has become a trifle wonky. So much so, in fact, that before we could even start to think about painting it we had to gird our loins in preparation for the fencing equivalent of some serious root canal work.
(Changing the subject for a moment, what makes people want to become dentists? OK, the money’s not bad, but all that grubbing around with the orthodontic equivalents of a cold chisel, a lump hammer and a wrecking bar can’t do much for your sense of truth and beauty. Answers on a postcard...)
Anyway, with a new fencepost drilled, fixed, fettled and concreted – who’d have thought a humble columnist had so many non-related skills? – it was time to break out the fancy new sprayer.
Or rather it wasn’t. Because it was windy. And the next day was windy. And the day after that was windier still. And then it rained.
Have you noticed that the sun always shines on the Wood Preservation Society? Well, it doesn’t on our fence.
And in a prominent place on the War-and-Peace-length instructions for the aforementioned Fancy New Sprayer, it said, in large bold letters: “Do not spray in windy conditions or when rain is expected within the next five hours.”
If you can spot any substantive difference between the above and “Do not spray, ever”, then please jot it down on the same postcard.
The time spent waiting for a break in the weather was put to good use reading the rest of the instructions.
Which included among other gems the sort of diagram that Nasa might use if it ever forgot how to build space shuttles and then wanted to put together a new one.
Eventually, though, the wind died down to Force One on the Beaufort Scale, charmingly described as “Light air: branches stay attached to trees, pedestrians walk vertically rather than at 45° to the horizontal”.
Out came the sprayer and the green paint. But what they don’t tell you in the adverts is that if you’ve got a slightly tatty old fence panel that’s previously been painted brown, half of the green gets absorbed and you end up with camouflage.
That and miniature green speckles all over your glasses.
We’ll do the rest in brown, and hope for the best. But that Wood Preservation Society has got an awful lot to answer for.