Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Taint Of Paint

Time's short. I have more search requests from which tease out meanings, and tease generally.

"i wont to no all about body wock on cars"

So grammatically incorrect, hordes of expired English Language teachers should rise from their graves - Thriller style - and converge like pantomime ghouls towards a ghastly old school teacher's convention and chant a lamentation for the passing of correct, or even half decent, usage.

Around about the time some of these teachers were alive, I worked on the 'body wock' of cars as a paint sprayer. Thankfully at the time, I had an intuitive understanding - based on being a natural fuss-pot, of the poisoning properties of cellulose paint. Nobody else working there seemed to care, getting the job done was all that mattered. If the extractor fans were clogged and refused to fulfill their role in life - extraction - it was a minor inconvenience. It was bit harder to see, your cough might be a little more hack-violent when you clambered out of the painty hell-hole after carrying out a respray, but hey!

All this was prior to anything recognisable today as health and safety and duty of care legislation. Your good or bad health was based on how you dealt with the risks present and was pretty much a matter of personal choice. The only form of breathing mask to provide some form of protection from the deadly fug you worked in was a thin sponge and charcoal grit affair stuck on the end of a stinking rubber nose extension that when worn sucked your face in so tightly it boggled your eyes into Marty Feldman's during his Igor period, turned your ears as red as the Chinese flag and pinched your mouth against your teeth with such venom the inside of your bottom lip played host to a clutch of marble sized mouth ulcers for weeks.

There was only one of these masks and four of us working, but there was no fight for its use. No dispute, no turn-taking routine. No-one was ever occupied in searching out that rubber face reshaping clinker. It became mine. Only I used it. Only I would stop my lungs from ending up with a multi-coloured scrounge coating.

Curiously, the others were quite happy drinking in great breathy draughts of poisonous air, swirls of coloured mist - the colours and flavours of the day; the tasteful ermine whites of the Simcas, the gaudy harvest golds of Hillmans, Ford Capri and Granada tawny metallics and that awful Vauxhall wedgewood blue. I wasn't

They had me down as a strange one.

The masked one.

The Mask.

The masked survivor.

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