Paint tester pots. Those little sampler kits that you daub on your walls like swatches to decide whether its going to be Natural Hessian, Honiton Lace or Egyptian Cotton for the living room. That help you make that crucial, hard to reach decision between Menstrual Scarlet or Vomit Yellow for the back bedroom. As Dulux says: Not sure what shade to go for? Experiment with color (?!) in the comfort of your own home to help you decide on the perfect shade. Yeah, right. And never see the back of the bastard while ever youve got plaster on the wall. Experiment my arse. They make it sound so innocent, so harmless. And thats what they said about Ravioli and the male G-spot. But experimenting with colour and these little tester pots isnt innocent. It isnt harmless. Because even after three coats of whatever colour you ultimately go for, whether it be Morning Faecal Brown or Crusty Poultice Beige, the impression of the tester pot stays there, lingering. Like a night fart nestling itself down deep in the folds of the duvet, crouching, ready to surprise you when you unfurl yourself in the morning. Not the colour of the tester pot necessarily but the impression the mark leaves on the wall. Be warned. Take heed. It bites deep like acid. Its like an acne scar. So that when youre finally there with your lovely smooth surfaces, the gorgeous soft silk emulsion covering every wall, house proud, feeling chuffed that you have found the perfect colour to represent your busy but stylish lifestyle, you will suddenly see that you have these impressions of where youd tried out the samplers. And theres nothing you can do about it. Its like seeing a Page 3 girl with stretch marks on her tits. Something beautiful ruined. It jars. It ruins the entire effect. It drives you round the fucking bend.
And have you seen the price? Bloody hell. Theyre not cheap. Drop for drop theyre more expensive than gold. Fact. You can buy weapons grade Plutonium for less. In some countries tester pots have actually become currency. In France, for instance, as the Euro topples. One sample pot of Crowns Sickly Blancmange Pink will keep you in baguettes for a year.
I put my testers in the hallway. Fucking arsehole that I am. Following the directions carefully. Neutral light, a spot where I could stand clear and make a comparison. All that. Cushty. I stepped back and, from the choice of three Id daubed, plumped for Natural Hessian. Tottered back off to B & Q and bought an ocean of it. Banged it on with the roller. Went back when it had dried. Nodded. Then saw the indentations where the bleeding tester marks had been. What the fuck?! A closer, worried inspection. What the fuck?! Two more coats. What the fuck?! Still there. I couldnt get shut. Whatever you do, if you feel compelled to use these dont be tempted to doodle a cock or anything like that, thinking what a funny bastard you are. Youll be stuck with it forever. Glaring. Staring you out. The Japs eye bracing you up. Like those marks on my wall did every time I walked into the hall. Shoulders down. And now its only thanks to the Beatles that the tester swatches are out of sight. A Hard Days Night-period John, Paul, George and Ringo have their backs to them. You can always rely on the Fab Four. But you can see by the look on Ringos sad face that he isnt impressed. The doleful eyes turned down at the corners. Paul has an eyebrow raised. Its plain as day that hes thinking someones had my pants down. George telling me theyre not that bad. To take it easy, man, be philosophical about it. John Lennon? Well, hes a swine, John Lennon.
Obviously this is all part of the make over culture that sees Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen turn a council house in Thurnscoe into a baroque playground for foppish dandies with little more than a visit to Focus DIY and a bit of stale creativity. Well give them some pleats and put the toilet in the lounge, it worked last week. Tester pots and feature walls and laminate flooring. When every fucker thinks a fleur-de-lis stencil spray painted on the wall in gold makes their house seem like the Sun Kings Versailles with an LCD TV. Though Ive noticed that the welter of makeover programmes that used to show us how to make throw cushions out of old underpants and staple rush matting to the walls have thinned out with the recession biting and repossessions going through the roof. Its not much fun doing a sixty minute makeover when the bailiffs are kicking in the door twenty minutes in and going out with the sofa. Though it might make for good reality TV. Terri Dwyer and Linda Barker trading punches on the driveway with some blokes from Bright House, trying to drag a Nintendo Wii that Lindas just festooned with tangerine and purple chintz back into the house. Its all bollocks. Forget the tester pots, forget the pierced Moresque radiator covers, forget the rococo toilet seats that play Ode to joy when you sit down, and the throw backs, tie backs and sling backs, and the jigsaw cut MDF. The Rolling Stones had it right. Paint the fucker black. Black as night. Black as coal.