Let me Paint you a Picture by Willie Hyland

I was married at the very young age of 20 and my wife, Sheila, was only 19. Nowadays that combination would be predicted to fail. “Too young” they would say…. “Sure they haven’t lived” and that sort of bad prediction.

Life was very good at that time and now after 48 years of marriage and 6 children later we are still together. The 6 comprises of 5 sons and 1 daughter. 5 of them are married and we now have 10 grandchildren.

I worked as a painter and decorator. The income was generally a healthy one but unless you worked in the trade you would be unaware of the downside. Christmas time, when you needed an extra amount of cash for the presents and luxury foods was not a great time for our income. Although some people get some decorating done in the run up to Christmas, this work is generally finished at least two weeks before the big day, and clearly with the bad and cold weather at that time of year no exterior work is carried out. Consequently, a lot of decorating companies lay off painters, bad news at this time of year.

Accordingly, having spent a few years learning as much as possible about the trade, I decided to apply for a job working as a painter for the Department of Defence. The income was a little less but they did not lay people off at that critical time of year so we had at least a guarantee of cash for Christmas.

You get to learn quickly when you are painting for a living. Did you ever see on television the front door of the British premier’s hall door in London? The gloss and shine from it is almost reflective. People think it is a very expensive paint. It is good paint but the great result is as a result of the great preparation. Sanding down the door to a smooth finish, filling any gaps and re-sanding down followed by a good undercoat, and then applying a really good gloss finish ….. all these steps combine to ensure a mirror like finish. This is the best tip I can give you ….. never overload a paintbrush with too much paint and always run the brush in the same up/down direction.

I am hopeful that my youngest son who is still living at home with us will get a job in the trade. I have given him a good grounding in the art and have taught him all I have learned. For some reason my wife is not as keen as I am to see him enter the trade but I do feel he would enjoy the role.

That is another thing I have realised through our years of marriage. When we got married we were two different people and of course we still are. We would have grown closer together in our tastes and probably got to like our partner’s favourite things more and more. However, we may still prefer different political parties, different football teams, etc. However the trick to staying together is to learn to agree to differ, the art of compromise. At the very least, it is more peaceful and also stops life from being boring. As the good Corkman says, “Although there’s not much dough there, there’s love there too dear”…….you have to read that with a Cork accent!!

For a pastime, I keep racing pigeons. It can be an expensive hobby as when you release a flock of racers, say in Dundalk, some of them could end up in Liverpool. Someone finding them might contact you through the ring on the bird’s leg, which contains the owner’s details, or they may just hold onto the bird and retrain them to become “local fliers”. However, I get a lot of fun attending to them. Pigeons are also mainly faithful to one another. The males usually stay with their female partner. In this way, they reflect human beings and mirror what I and my wife have done.

I hope I have painted an interesting picture for you to enjoy.