The 20 Minute Writing Club – Grout

In the past week I’ve started what has become The 20 Minute Writing Club with some friends. In an attempt to get our creative juices flowing, each day we each pick a random word for each other to write on. The idea is that you write freely for 20 minutes on whatever that one word evokes or inspires within you. It can be a memory, diary entry, creative story, whatever you want. The results have been entertaining enough for us that I’ve decided to share some of my pieces.

The first word assigned to me was grout. (Thanks Aoife)




I’ve never lived in a house where there’s been a decent grouting job done on the tiles. My parents had grown up and been embedded with a working class kind of DIY snobbery. Why pay someone to come in a do a nice job? They’ll just spend their time drinking tea and listening to Joe Duffy on the radio and they’ll charge too much. Get Dad to do it. I knew Dad was ok at DIY. Only ok. One of my first memories of his ‘handy work’ was him destroying the bathroom door with a sledgehammer because my brother Robert wouldn’t get out of the shower. Breaking things and fixing things all fall under the term ‘DIY’ don’t they?

My Dad was late for his weekly golf game, and nothing could keep him from it. What started out as a bit of craic from my brother turned into this hilariously embarrassing memory. ‘Get the fuck out of the shower!’ One thing you should know about my brother is that he hates people using bad language, especially when it is used towards him. ‘Oh yeah, that lovely language is really going to make me shower faster.’ His sarcasm set my Dad through the roof. ‘I’ll break down this door if you don’t fucking hurry up you little bollix.’ ‘Ok. Sure break it down.’

Dad started kicking the door in. He kicked it in so much that he bent the door. It obviously wasn’t the Hollywood police door busting in effect he desired, but it was a start. So now the door was wedged and stuck. Robert was now finished showering and just sitting on the bath in a towel unable to get out. I’m still in bed even though it’s 8.45am. We lived 5 minutes away from school and I was known for being late for first class so the teachers had come to accept it. I got dressed and hung around for the rest of the show, so did Declan my other brother. Dad had to go down to the shed in his house coat to get the sledgehammer and smash in the door. He completely destroyed the door and smashed the mirror on the opposite site. We all gave him a round of applause after he did it. In hindsight that was probably a bad idea but we were cheeky (and very funny). If there was ever a time not to give my father a sarcastic round of applause it was when he was this angry and holding a sledgehammer. If camera phones had been the constant handheld commodity they are now he would have gone ‘viral’.

‘Mad Irish Dad Smashes in Door Because he’s Late for Golf. #ThingsIrishPeopledo #ArentWeMad #PsychoDaddy #LOL #Ireland’

When my mother returned home from work we had all left for school, college and golf respectively. Robert had left her a note on a ripped piece of cardboard from a Cornflakes box which read: ‘Dad went mad. Broke down the door and smashed the mirror in the bathroom this morning. – Rob.’

When my dad came home from golf he tried to act cheerful as if nothing had happened. My Mam very cooly said to him, ‘If you think you’re just going to fix that one door you’re mistaken. I’m not having an odd door out.’ So that’s the story of how we came to have new doors in our entire house. Ironically, my brother Robert ended up putting them all in. He’s pretty fantastic when it comes to woodwork. He had always made great pieces when he was in school.

But back to the grout. When the door was broken in, the frame cracked some of the tiles and some fell out. They were never fixed and now when I’m in a bathroom with perfect tiles it almost feels abnormal to me. Do you honestly mean your Dad never flipped the lid and smashed up the bathroom door at least once? I think I remember it with a kind of Roddy Doyle nostalgia.