NOW that the brood have flown the nest (well, apart from the youngest one who’s winged his way back for the summer) the time has come to start sprucing up the house a bit.

Four kids over 25 years have left the furniture broken, doors cracked, wall-paper torn, and carpets stained. There never seemed much point doing anything about it until they’d gone but it can wait no longer.

There’s a new three-piece suite on order, a decorator is about to be hired, and a log-burner will soon be replacing the fireplace which has left burn-marks on the rug because the guard was left off so often.

Despite not being “handy” in any way, I like to do my bit, so I thought I’d clean up the brass door-knobs while my wife was out. Unsure of the correct procedure, I Googled “cleaning brass door-knobs” and an unexpected suggestion popped up.

In summary, I was advised that I could save money on Brasso by smearing my door-knobs with ketchup. Apparently, miraculously even, the mild acid in tomato sauce is great for removing grime from brass. “Leave a generous helping of ketchup on the brass for a while, then wipe off with a soft cloth,” said Mr Google.

What the hell? I tried it on the two doors at either end of the lounge but what the Internet didn’t answer was the question of how you keep your ketchup on your knob. My particularly generous helping immediately started dripping onto the floor so, undeterred, I cleverly placed sheets of newspaper underneath.

I went back to what I’d been doing, waited for the mild acid to do its job, and looked forward to how impressed my wife would be when she saw the shiny brass, good as new.

While I was waiting, I passed the time by conducting a couple of phone interviews for work and let’s just say I got a little distracted. In fact, I completely forgot about the ketchup-smeared door-knobs.

I was still engrossed in a phone call when my wife’s return home coincided with the arrival of the fella who’ll be fitting our new log-burner. She went to take him into the lounge but a sudden commotion interrupted by phone conversation as they both turned around, displaying handfuls of Daddy’s red sauce. To make matters considerably worse, they’d also stood in the red blobs that had fallen onto the newspaper.

It’s probably an exaggeration to liken the scene to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but it wasn’t far off.

Not surprisingly, my wife wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped and, although he tried hard to appear understanding, the log-burner man must have been having second thoughts about what kind of household he’d be working in.

As instructed by my computer, I wiped the ketchup off the door-knobs with a damp cloth, then wisely thought better of offering it to my wife and the log-burner man to clean their hands.

It’s deeply disappointing to have to report that after a good half hour of being smeared with tomato sauce, the knobs looked no different, and the carpets are more in need of a change than ever.

I’m off for a tin of Brasso.


KAREN Bowlzer told me this story at a meeting of Shadforth Women’s Institute… When her husband Steve was eight, he had a white teddy bear called Snowy. His younger sister, Sue, had a cuddly toy rabbit and they were arguing about which one was whitest.

“My teddy’s whiter than your rabbit,” taunted Steve.

“Not anymore it’s not,” replied Sue as she grabbed Snowy and shoved him up the chimney.

ANOTHER one from the Dad At Large archives… My daughter Hannah, when she was seven 18 years ago: “Daddy, I’ll love you even when you’re bald and fat and wearing someone else’s teeth.”

Phew! I’ve still got my own teeth.