Shouted at in my own home, and I just took it

I got shouted at this week. Me, a grown man (with beard), father-of-two and columnist in this esteemed Weekend supplement reduced to a naughty schoolboy being bawled at in my own home.

How can that be right?

Especially as the bloke doing the shouting was also the bloke fitting my new bathroom.

All I’d done was change my mind about the tiles.

Keith Harrison

Admittedly, this was about the fifteenth time I’d switched things around (that day). But when it comes to interior design, I’m more Jim Bowen than Laurence Llewelyn and therefore never quite sure what I’m doing.

I tried standing my corner amid this barrage of effs and jeffs, but quickly retreated into ‘head-down-stand-there-and-take-it’ mode.

Especially when his workmate, a formidable woman armed with a dust pan and brush, started chipping in.

It wasn’t the first time either; they’d virtually done a tour of my entire house pointing out everything from the pile of washing up, the ironing, the dust and the unending trail of Fruit and Nut wrappers so prominent that Hansel and Gretel could find their way around.

What is it with these people?

I explained that the young lady who normally does my cleaning (ie girlfriend) was absent this week due to the lack of a bathroom. Normal service will be resumed once the tiles are in place. But it cut no ice. The good news was that they didn’t expect me to do any of the tidying up. Nor cut the lawns. Nor help with the tiling.

These proud pair are, you see, my parents.

Both now in their seventies and with various (serious) illnesses and ailments on the clock, but still bossing me around, doing all my jobs and caring for me like no other.

I managed to lug the heavy load of B&Q’s finest floor tiles that nearly broke the suspension on my car to the hallway but it was too much to haul it upstairs in one go. So we decided they would be carried up as and when.

Within a day, they were all up there, needed or not, as my dad saw this pile as a hunter sees a grizzly bear; a challenge to the Kingdom of Hallway, to be removed as soon as humanly possible.

I’m not sure how much effort it took on his part - although I know getting them in the car nearly broke my back. But I’m pretty sure my Old Chap won’t have considered that; in his mind he’s still in his prime, working away with the drive and determination of a man 30 years younger (even more if the man in question is me).

My mother too, still recovering from a serious health condition, was quite clearly told (by me) to put her feet up and rest. I returned to find lawns mowed, the weeding done and a week’s worth of ironing neatly laid out.

Because to them I’m still their little boy; all snotty nose and muddy trousers, room too messy, music too loud (another of this week’s ‘crimes’).

And they’re still my parents, hard work hewn into a DNA that says ‘get on with it’, ‘can-do’ and ‘no fuss’.

Add to that a lifetime of love and caring – often with only a giant pain in the backside in return – and you can see I’ve been a very lucky naughty boy.

So, quite frankly, I think they’ve earned the right to shout at me as much as they want.

But if you’re reading this Dad, about those tiles . . .