Whoa! Hold on – now don’t get all jittery. Despite appearances implied by the photograph, we are not, repeat NOT, out and about in the Knumptywagen. Far from it. In fact, like so many of our fellow Brits (let alone the motor-homing fraternity) we are locked-down, staying home, protecting the NHS and hopefully – albeit indirectly – saving lives.
So why the Forth Bridge? Well, the observant amongst you will recognise that this is just one of three more-or-less adjacent and magnificently engineered crossings of the Firth of Forth, which threads its way to its confluence with the North Sea just above Edinburgh, Scotland.
The more didactic amongst you may also recognise that the Knumptywagen would have experienced a degree of great difficulty crossing the Forth on this particular structure, since it carries the main London to Aberdeen railway lines, as opposed to any road traffic.
Opened in 1890, the structure is built from 53,000 tonnes of steel held together with six-and-a-half million rivets. It’s 2,467 metres long (that’s over a mile-and-a-half in old money) and its painted surface area is approximately 230,000 square metres. And therein lies its biggest claim to fame – as a metaphor for a task which proves to be never-ending.
Hence, the image seems very apt as we conclude our unknowingly epic locked-down activity of painting the hall and landing of our Victorian-era house. Now, as a brief aside, I’ve deliberately used the descriptor ‘Victorian’ here, so you – gentle reader – will be left in no doubt as to the extent of our self-determined ‘journey’. With three floors; two landings and two-and-a-bit flights of stairs, our task was frickin’ huge at the outset, but what-the-hell, we figured, we had plenty of time and not a lot else to do with all this Corona-imposed spare time.
In uncharacteristic anticipation of lock-down, colour charts had earlier been acquired from our local decorating supplier; swatches stuck on our two-tone walls; samplers purchased (at extortionate cost for such piddling little pots) and painted patches applied in various locations to ascertain the varying effects of what little natural daylight permeates our semi-detached, single-sided domicile.
What no-one told us as we made our final decisions was that the dark-blue Dulux ‘Ink Well’ colour selected for the lower half of the walls would be so disproportionately packed with pigment that it would be thick and sticky to apply and – perversely – would also need an average of three coats to achieve a uniform finish. Thankfully, the floridly named ‘Gardenia’ (a 21st century euphemism for ‘magnolia’) needed only two coats – so between us, it’s only taken two weeks to complete our journey. And that’s without any of the miles of white gloss woodwork for which, thankfully, we had the foresight to procure the services of a professional decorator, who will now – no doubt – be unable to commence Phase 2 until we’re all released from the grip of this confounded virus.
Since our task seemed so never-ending, your esteemed and humble author turned (briefly and uncharacteristically) to the statistical dark side to measure and calculate that our painterly efforts amounted to a disappointing and slightly less-than 0.001 percent of the efforts involved in the continual repainting of the Forth Bridge.
And as if this was insufficient disappointment, our final ignominy came with the installation of three new wall-lights – candle-like sconces which dictated the use of trendy, bronze-glazed LED filament bulbs (which were admittedly described as ‘VERY warm white’). Sadly therefore, as dusk falls, our beautifully redecorated labour of love is lit with such a powerful, orange glow that it actually appears to be on fire and – despite all our efforts – the house now feels as if it’s burning down around us.