Chapter 5 – Harry the Painter

Maybe you would like to read how this bedtime story began. You could check here –

Those Small Knitty Gritty Kids (or how it all came about) (click here)

Harry the Painter

Now here is one of the senior members of our family—also the tallest. When he speaks with his deep voice rumbling all the way up from his shoes, EVERYONE listens!
Even sitting down, Harry the Painter towers over the other Knitty Gritty Kids. Although he is already a most impressive fellow, his hat and the glue pot on top add to his height. Harry the Painter can make the kids shush and settle down to listen to his voice of wisdom and experience whenever they become too loud or over-excited. Life has taught them anyone with such a kind smile wants only the best for them.

This great lumbering workman captured my heart a long time ago, when I found him sitting in an antique cot, surrounded by other toy children of all varieties—dolls and bears and other soft creatures. Big as he is, and gruff as he tries to be, he’s just a kid at heart and I’ll always be his Mum. Can’t help chuckling at his eagerness as he lines up with the other Knitty Gritty Kids for his story to be told—again and again.

“Tell the one about my name, Mum,” and he pushes his ladder to one side so he can snuggle closer. What a marshmallow heart beats beneath those paint spattered overalls. I can’t help a chuckle… and another hug.

“OK,” and I start with Once upon a time… (The kids love those words, so I say them again) “Once upon a time, when the idea of making a house painter was first planned, someone decided his name should be Sidney Slapstick. Cute, because the name means funny stuff… and he IS comical with those paint splatters and his dilly hat!”

The trouble was, slapstick is a word sounding too close to slapdash – meaning NOT a splendid job—not mattering if it’s not OK. I shake my head and the Kids all appear worried at the frown I feel happening between my eyebrows.

“Kids, the painter I knew best was your Dad’s Dad, and there was nothing he EVER did in a ‘slapdash’ way… “I shake my head. “THAT Harry did a professional job of every room he painted or wallpapered. He was SO proud of his workmanship – and as he always said – if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” I can’t help myself adding – “… and Kids? It’s true of ANYTHING you do in Life… anything and everything. Always remember Harry and his famous words. OK?” (The Knitty Gritty Kids nod their heads, small faces serious as though they’re thinking about times they might have decided something was ‘good enough’ or ‘that’ll do’, when it wasn’t. Half-baked stuff like that.)

I drop a little kiss on Harry’s rosy cheek (which makes it get even rosier) and I say, “As soon as I saw this handsome fellow I knew we had to adopt him and rename him Harry—in honour of that first wonderful man we’d known and loved SO much.” (Now Harry blushes. He’s SO proud to share the name of that older and much more experienced master tradesman.) The Knitty Gritty kids chuckle and chortle amongst themselves. It’s a rare thing to see Big Harry all embarrassed and gooey—and they’re loving it!

To hide his sudden shyness, Harry looks all about himself to find something to distract everyone, and as soon as his eyes alight on that something, he gruffly changes the subject. “Do you still like your bedroom door? And the lounge door, too?” he asks. As if he doesn’t know! I’ve admired it from every angle, again and again, and thanked him many times.

Clever Harry—he cleaned and painted the old chipped and damaged doors in the brightest white paint, and then he wallpapered inside the four fancy insets in the door. It’s a white and softest pink and grey old-fashioned pattern… the style I love best. See it in the picture? I doubt he could have achieved so much without his trusty ladder. He IS tall — but the old door is taller than either of us.

Another wonderful idea was in my Kitchen and family dining area. He painted the walls halfway down in a warm and cosy colour (like fresh apricots) and the bottom section in a soft sagey-kind-of green. He found a wallpaper strip featuring roses and leaves in both those colours to make a dividing line around the room. It’s SO charming. He always knows what will win my heart.

It’s fantastic how nothing defeats Harry. No job is too big for him (maybe it’s his own size, giving him that forever positive outlook). He smiles and gets on with the task at hand. He takes tea breaks and a longer lunch break, but otherwise he works the bristles of his brush at a cracking pace, covering enormous areas in a single stroke.

I’m not sure where he planned to use the red paint in his paint pot (and dripping off his brush — “Watch out, Harry…”) Phew! I’m glad he only spilt red splodges on himself, and not on my carpet! Like his namesake, he is a superior type decorator who puts down drop-sheets to protect any area he works in.

“Sometimes you wear those funny glasses for protection for your eyes, don’t you, Harry?” He nods his head so fast I fear his gluepot will fall off — or at the very least, tip over. But it never does. Harry has a marvellous sense of balance.

“I wear those glasses when I paint ceilings, so the paint won’t drip into my eyes,” he says. “Learned that from this Italian chap called Michelangelo, who painted some big ceilings in his lifetime.” Have to chuckle. Michelangelo, a role model for Harry the Painter? Now there’s a thought! Although I find him an exceptional tradesman, I wonder if even big Harry the Painter and his tall ladder could hope to reach the soaring ceilings his hero painted?

# # # # #

Uh-oh, back here in his bed, Jonjon squirms around and grabs my chin to make me look at him. “But Sarah, who’s Michael Angel? Is he up in Heaven or something? I don’t know HIM… do I?” There’s that frown again.

Can’t help myself. Have to smooth that crunkled forehead. He’s a handsome little fellow, and that small stroking gives me a moment to straighten my face and stop laughter threatening to bubble out and over my smile.

“No, you don’t know him, Jonjon. And it’s not Michael Angel! It’s Michelangelo, and he was one of the greatest painters in the whole wide world. Mum had a book with some pictures of him and one of the most famous of his paintings, an amazing ceiling he painted in a church in Italy—”

“Did he paint the same as Harry?”

“No. He was an artist painter Jonjon. That’s SO different from a house painter like Harry. Michelangelo painted great artworks on ceilings, and portraits and things.” I could see again those wonderful close-up pics Mum showed me… and I told Jonjon how that painter had to lay flat on his back on planks atop the tallest ladders to do it. “It must have been terrible, Jonjon. Paint spots would fall on his face and he had to wear special glasses to protect his eyes, and his beard got all stuck together—and colourful? Wow! He’d have to stop often because all the blood would drain from his arm and he’d get pins and needles from holding it up for so long.”

Setting the book aside for a moment to give him a quick hug, I try for a stern face. (Uhrr… don’t manage too well, but at least I can make a gruffy voice like my Ted Bear) “If you don’t be quiet now, there won’t be time for me to read you one last brief story tonight.” I try to build some suspense, “… and this one’s a LOVE story! How about that?”

“I’ll be quiet, Sarah! I will… promise… cross my heart and hope to die. Promise. Please, Sarah!”

Yes. Sure. Here we go again.

# # # # #

Next?  Chapter 6: Derek the Cat and his Best Friend, Susie (click here)

Christine

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