" So how did your decorating go last weekend, Mae?"
"Not too great," sighs Mae. "I thought I would start with the hall, it's really dingy. A bit of fresh paint would brighten it up"
"Rather you than me," says Christine, who famously hates decorating.
"Well it all went well until the last door in my hall, which has 12 frosted glass panels," continued Mae.
Christine is already bored and clearly has not the slightest interest in spending Sunday afternoon listening about decorating woes.
However, I'm listening because when it's Mae talking about even this kind of stuff you instantly know there's going to be something unexpected in it.
"So I put masking tape around each of the 12 panels. It took me forever, but when I finished painting and ripped off the masking tape, aaarghh! … the bloody paint had seeped under the tape and was all over the glass.
"I was really cheesed off - but then I had another bright idea."
I'VE got to admit that over the years Mae has never been short of bright ideas.
"I decided to paint all of the wood and the glass and then scrape off the dried paint on the glass. Simple!"
But nothing ever is for Mae. Oh no.
The glass panels were made of frosted glass and some flakes of paint came off, but most didn't.
"I could have painted the bloody Sistine chapel quicker," she moaned.
"But, not to be put off I had another brainwave. I'd try Google - that's what everyone does these days, isn't it?"
So she told us that with paint-covered fingers she fired up her laptop in search of answers.
And in she typed: "I've painted my glass-panelled door and have painted all the edges of the wood including the frosted glass.
"I've tried to scrape the dried paint off the glass with a blade, but it didn't work. Can anybody help?"
Mae hit the search button and waited patiently for the solution to her horrendous paint job.
"So then I got an email from my knight in shining armour.
"I opened it to read the reply. It said 'Any idiot who thought that idea would work shouldn't be allowed a paint brush!'."
In fairness, although we said nothing, neither Christine or I could really disagree with the guy's sentiments.
"Honestly, I was wishing I had never started," exclaimed Mae."
Despondent, Mae told us that she'd finally given up, and with paint still in her hair and on her face she'd consoled herself with a large glass of wine.
She was just beginning to unwind when the phone rang.
"So I got up and answered it," Mae explains and begins to recount the conversation.
Caller: "Good evening. Is that Ms. Mxxxx?"
Mae: "Yes it is."
Caller: "My name is Frank from French Windows and Conservatories."
Mae: "Hi Frank."
(Mae admitted she was just glad to hear a friendly voice at the end of a stressful day.
Frank: "Is it ok if I call you Mae?"
OK, it was an old sales tactic but Mae said she was just pleased to have the chance of a chat … she does like a chat.
"Mae, have you ever considered a conservatory?"
Mae: "No. Never, I didn't think I could have a conservatory."
Frank: "Of course you can Mae. Anybody can have a conservatory nowadays."
Christine, now looking very interested in a conversation she thought was going to be boring, and I lock eyes.
We know where Mae lives and we're gripped by her phone call.
Frank: "Firstly, can you confirm you are the householder and that you are in full-time employment?"
Mae: "Yes, I certainly am."
Frank: "Whatever the style of your property, we have a range of quality conservatories all individually designed to suit your needs.
"The superior construction means they are warm in winter and cool in summer.
Mae: "Well, I never dreamt I could ever have a conservatory."
Frank: "Of course you can, Mae. It's a great sound investment. And if it's the money you're worried about, worry no more. We have a finance package to suit everyone."
Mae: "Really? But …"
Frank: "Imagine sitting in the winter Mae, cold rain battering against the glass roof and you are snug and cosy in your brand new warm conservatory."
Mae told us that she did shut her eyes for a moment and imagine the picture the bold Frank was drawing.
Mae: "Oh Frank.That sounds lovely but …"
So Mae tells use she was getting really excited about it and was pacing around the living room with her mobile tucked under her chin listening to Frank and his chat before heading into the kitchen to top up her wine.
After all, they'd now been chatting for half an hour.
"Honest, Janice I was thinking, me with a conservatory? Everyone'll think I've won the lottery."
NOW totally engrossed in her story, Christine and I decide to remain quiet and let her finish.
Frank: "We've discussed the possibility of a finance plan, and it looks promising. We've discussed the type of conservatory and the finish you prefer. Now, I can drop in tomorrow morning to finalise the paperwork if that suits you."
Mae: "Definitely. I'm free anytime after ten."
Forty-five minutes of sales patter have finally paid off for Frank. It's the most straightforward sale he has had in a long time.
Frank: "Just remind me of your address Mae."
Mae: "It's 55B Hutchison Street, top left."
There is a long silence.
Frank: "Did you say TOP LEFT?"
Mae: "Yes, that's correct. It's four in a block and I'm top left."
Frank (struggling to get the word out): "Why didn't you say you were one floor up"?
By now Christine and I are on the floor in stitches, as Mae continued: "His tone changed before the line went dead.
"Well, he was the one that insisted I could have a conservatory."
Mae looked at us holding our sides.
"Does that mean I can't ever have one now? she asked.