Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

Time for a cunning plan to get the jobs done



Porn star on a budget,” was my verdict on our bathroom, with its fake gold fittings, shiny black wall tiles and monochrome tiled floor, when we moved into our flat over a decade ago.

“I’ll definitely be re-doing that first,” I said. Years on, it’s unchanged and unexpectedly looking quite contemporary. Proof that if you wait long enough, everything comes back in fashion. Which is something Country Woman, who has never stopped wearing flares and is now the height of cool, could have told me if she cared about such things. Instead she greets the news of fashion’s latest rotation with a shrug and a “Didn’t know they ever went out.”

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So now that we’re moving and the undone jobs are being ticked off, all our retro charm bathroom needs is a fresh coat of paint. And what’s the point of having tall children if you can’t use them to paint a bathroom ceiling?

Getting them to actually do it is the tricky bit, so I wait till the time is right, and the time is right now.

“Mum, can I borrow £20 please,” says Middle.


“My mate’s got an exhibition and I want to go to the launch then into town but I’m skint.”

“You can HAVE £20 my sweet,” is my unexpected response.

He smiles. “Nice.”

“If you paint the bathroom.”

“Yep. Yep. I’ll do it tomorrow. I WILL do it tomorrow,” he says and scarpers.

So tomorrow comes and I’m amazed to see him up and dabbing away with the paint. Result. The only downside is the accompanying podcast he’s listening to. What is it today? Clarify Your Purpose, You Made It Weird or Unlock your Inner Ferret.

“It’s Joe Rogan talking to Neil deGrasse Tyson,” says Middle, rollering away. “He’s an astrophysicist and it’s about how Christopher Columbus used a lunar eclipse to tell a tribe if they don’t give him food then the gods will turn the moon red. And it did, because of a lunar eclipse…” and on it goes, along with the paint. Excellent work.

“Are you wanting a wee job as well?” I say to Eldest, sloping past. The garden fence could do with painting too.

“Nope. It’s my day off,” he says.

“Day off, hmph. Every day’s… etc”

He’s flush, having worked a wedding yesterday, so the cash trick won’t be any use.

“If you don’t turn the garden fence green, no food will appear,” I try, the belly being his Achilles’ heel.

“OK. I’ll DEFINITELY do it tomorrow.”