Home Improvement


"It's green," Bodie said, pointing at the roll of carpet. "Innit."

"It's a murky mint green," Doyle agreed. "Yeah. Although with sort of olive-green walls…"

"… which we said could stay," Bodie said, a plaintive note creeping in. "I'm not repainting the whole damned flat. I mean we don't have to go for this whole poofter-type interior decorating thing. Just replace the threadbare carpets and a couple of things and bingo."

"Right," Doyle nodded. "But your settee's tan, and we said we'd keep that, so we don't need that many different..."

"Like I said," Bodie sighed. "Poofter-type interior decorating thing. Besides, brown goes with green. I do know that. Even if I'm not an arty-farty -"

"Bodie." Doyle decided that stern was the way to go. "I'm not exactly keen on getting into pink and frilly either. But we have to live there. Olive green and a nice macho brown may just work, but throwing mint green into the mix…"

"What about that one? That's brown."

"That's bloody awful. It's sort of dog-turd brown."

"Be useful if we had a dog with diarrhoea then."

"Charming," Doyle sighed. "This is like pulling bloody teeth, and we've not got to the bedroom yet."

"We haven't?" Bodie twitched an eyebrow and leered. "Could have fooled me."

"Be serious, Bodie. Bedroom. Ideas?"

Bodie looked around helplessly and shrugged. "Well, what does Sir think goes with that black bed of yours? And I suppose you're going to say we can't put brown with it because brown and black don't go together. I know that from some bird or other…"

"Clothes are one thing. But rooms are different, if you get it right."

"Poofter interior…" Bodie started, then caught the salesman's eye, or rather his earring and ruffled shirt, and shut up again.

"Bodie, this could be so simple." Doyle couldn't help sounding irritated. "It's not nuclear bloody physics."

"No, just a couple of middle-aged fruits moving in together and getting heavily into soft furnishings," Bodie muttered. "And if 'e comes and pokes his bloody nose into…"

"He won't. I told him to leave us alone," Doyle said smugly, "while you sorted out your new pad with a little help from me."

"My new pad? Coward. 'E's as queer as a three-pound note, and you don't have the balls to say we're shacking up together."

"So go and tell him. I'm sure he'll point you straight to the water beds and ceiling mirrors."

"No bloody way," Bodie grimaced. "Well, the water beds. I mean… punctures. Think of punctures."

"Right now, I'm thinking carpets," Doyle told him, flipping a few samples over. "How about this for the bedroom? Nice, simple mushroom colour."

"Mushroom? Sometimes I worry about you, Raymond. It's a sort of mucky pinky brown. Bugger to hoover, as well, if it's all one colour..."

"Oh, I love it when you're being practical," Doyle simpered.

"Better not let ruffle-shirt hear that."

"'E's gone. There's a blonde with big boobs over there now."

Bodie glanced over automatically, gave her his best full-frontal smile, and she trotted obediently towards them.

"My friend is helping me choose carpets," Bodie told her. "One to go with green -- sorry, olive green and brown…"

"Well," she breathed, "today's really interesting look is to blend and to clash carefully. So you could go for a sort of mint-green…"

Doyle groaned. Bodie beamed.

"Or of course biscuit. Very nice, biscuit…"

"For the chocolate digestive look with the settee," Bodie nodded sagely. "Right, you're on."

"Although it does require a little more tender loving care, being pale..."

Bodie scowled, then appeared to decide it wasn't worth the fight.

"And mushroom for the bedroom. Unless you've got a better idea to go with a black and brown theme?" Doyle said.

"Oh, mushroom's lovely. Or really, for either room you could go for something -- well -- textured. Like coconut matting in the living room, or slate …"

"'E's not really into getting 'is bum scratched or 'is feet cold," Doyle butted in politely. "Although 'is partner does actually have taste. So I think we need a compromise. Besides, my mate 'ere loves givin' 'is carpets a bit of tender loving care with a Hoover." He leaned over conspiratorially, "Irons his underpants too. Ex-army, y'know."

"Oh," the girl appraised him carefully, "You sound like quite a catch.

"I am," Bodie said, in unison with Doyle's snort.

"Biscuit it is then," Doyle said cheerfully, ignoring the glare aimed darkly in his direction. "And mushroom for the bedroom. I was thinking of a few touches of aubergine or plum as well."

"Aubergine or plum," Bodie said weakly. "No. Really."

"Oh, but that could be very nice," the blonde agreed enthusiastically. "Your friend really has an eye for colour and style."

"Thank you," Doyle simpered. "Trouble is, I have to cope with somebody who hasn't a bloody clue. So my artistic nature is repressed."

Bodie made a strangled noise.

"Er… oh. Well, I have these delicious plum throws..."

"Maybe another day, love. The carpet's worn me out. Did my amazingly artistic mate 'ere give you the measurements?"

Doyle pushed the piece of paper over.

Twenty minutes later Bodie emerged from the shop with the air of a man escaping from purgatory.

"Repressed, eh?" he managed. "You're repressed? Plum throws and mushroom carpets and you're repressed? And you have style? The bloke who used to wear checked shirts with a striped rugby shirt?"

"Least I never wore mustard coloured cardigans. You know -- the one that showed off your paunch."

"Cheek." Bodie sniffed, then chuckled faintly. "Plum. I cannot believe I have just ordered something in plum. Sure you don't want to go back for some nice scatter cushions with tassels? Or an avocado bathroom suite and coconut matting?"

" Hardly," Doyle grinned. "Like my comfort, I do. Which is why I don't complain too much about the paunch these days. Much better than scatter cushions, that is."

"I am growing old gracefully," Bodie informed him. "And I do not iron my underpants, for your information. Just… other stuff. Don't suppose you even own an ironing board."

Doyle grinned.

"And I'm not ironing your shirts. There are limits to cohabitation."

"We going to kill each other then?" Doyle enquired, aiming at casual. "Over ironing and prune throws and mushroom carpets and other domestic stuff?"

"Probably," Bodie said thoughtfully. "You leave hairs in the bath."

"You don't clean the bog when you've been."

"That's… I --"

"And you squeeze the toothpaste in the middle."

"Doomed," Bodie sighed. "We're doomed."

"Or we could find a cleaning lady?"

"Now you're talking," Bodie brightened up visibly. "Young and blonde?"

"Middle-aged and unshockable might be a better bet. Besides, I might get jealous of a blonde."

"No need," Bodie told him. "Not after all this time." He leered happily for a moment, then rubbed his hands together briskly, "Fancy a pint, or you think us middle-aged poofters should find a wine bar or something?"

"Pint," Doyle decreed firmly.

"Right. D'you really think we'll kill each other, sharing a place?"

"Possibly. Although less likely than it might have been ten years ago."

"Ten years ago we might 'ave shared a young, blonde cleaning lady," Bodie suggested. "Bit of light entertainment."

"Ten years ago we might have been kicked out of a job," Doyle said quietly. "If Cowley'd known how often we shared a bed."

"True. And now we're choosing plum throws."

"Things change, Bodie."

"Some of 'em, yeah." He looked thoughtful. "Since when did black go with brown, though?"

"Since you wanted to shack up with me and bring a little style into your living accommodation."

"You wanted to shack up with me, let me remind you."


"Charming." Bodie murmured. "You do know you're bloody impossible?"

"Course I do. And you're not?"

"Well…" Bodie hesitated. "I may not be entirely perfect. All the time."

"Which could be why it's taken us this long to move in together. We might still kill each other. So what do we do? Cancel the mushroom carpet? And the plum throws?"

"Oh I dunno. All things considered, we might have mellowed enough to cope. And there could be worse things than carpets. Like…"

"Rough wood flooring. Splinters in awkward places," Doyle said cheerfully. "So where's this pint?"

"On one condition. One only."

"Which is?"

"No avocado bathroom suite. No scatter cushions. No tassels. No…"

"That's at least three. And what's this obsession with avocado bathroom suites? OK, they're a bit outdated now, but…"

"Just that I've always wondered why anybody could want a green bog."

"Why would anybody want mustard-coloured cardigans? Personal taste, innit."

"Like plum?"

"Like plum," Doyle said cheerfully. "You'll like it."

"Can't wait," Bodie said with a total lack of conviction. "Except it sounds like we'll be eating the bloody flat, not livin' in it. Plums, biscuits, mushrooms." He grinned. "Which reminds me…"

"You're hungry."

"Takes it out of a man, all this. 'Course I am. I'm paying, I suppose?"

"You're paying. We could talk about curtains?"

"No," Bodie shook his head. "No curtains. There are limits. I need a steak."

"Spoilsport," Doyle chuckled. "But you never know. You might feel quite inspired after feeding your face."

"As long as you don't get ideas about ketchup-coloured curtains…"

"Now there's a thought. Mind, give you enough to drink and you'll give me free rein with the the kitchen units, the hall…"



"Nah, not particularly fond…"

"Colour, you prat."

"Whatever," Bodie sighed, flapping an exasperated hand. "Big steak, though. Chips. Pudding."

"No pudding."

"No pudding, no curtains." Bodie was categorical.

"Impossible," Doyle grinned. "Daft sod. Pudding it is. Now, a nice shade of chocolate..."

-- THE END --

August 2006

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