IF ever I get to appear on Mastermind I suspect my specialist subject would have to be “Getting Dirty.”

I don’t mean in the nudge nudge, wink wink vulgar sense, but in my distressing ability to attract oil, blood, soil, paint and other unpleasant substances to adorn my person.

I worked in an office for more than half a century, where one could reasonably expect to remain spick and span.

However, I usually managed to return home looking as though I had spent a shift working at Blenkinsopp drift mine.

Whether it was dust from the endless piles of old newspapers, or carbon from changing the cartridge in the photocopier, or even smoke damage from the time I set my fashionably-flared trousers on fire from standing too close to an electric fire, I was always exceptionally grubby.

Then there were the old-style typewriters, which had probably been used to announce the appointment of Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister.

I only had to sit at one, and within three keystrokes, the ribbon would peter out, meaning I had to reverse the one in the machine by turning it upside down, or fit a new one, which had to be begged from an office manager who deeply distrusted the profligacy of reporters with her treasured office equipment.

Whichever option I undertook, I always ended up daubed with more ink than it took to print the paper – especially from the one which turned out to have been only pretending to have run out.

It is a similar situation at home, where I am occasionally called upon to do some decorating. Mrs Hextol is a stern forewoman and berates me for making a mess even when I am stripping wallpaper.

I hate decorating with a passion, but am too mean to get a man in. It’s just that paint and I do not get on, which Mrs Hextol should know from the early days of our courtship, when I was fooling around with a half gallon tin of gloss,the lid of which unfortunately came off, and doused her with a liberal coating of shocking pink enamel.

Last year, we had a leak in the roof, which left a small brown stain on the bedroom ceiling I got the white emulsion out of the garage to paint over it, and succeeded in applying as much paint to the curtains and headboard as I did to the ceiling.

There was even more paint on me, and I dripped on the carpet as I darted to the bathroom for a shower.

Since I suffered a stroke a couple of years ago, I have been obliged to take blood thinning medication, which means that even the smallest nick produces enough blood to keep Bury Market supplied with black puddings for a month.

So imagine the carnage the other week when I was instructed to paint the Hextol Towers fence, associated gates and arches and other garden features with a thick coat of black timber preservative.

Part of the fence was enmeshed with chicken wire nailed on many years ago to prevent a visiting Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy from escaping.

The dog has long gone, but the wire remained, and I had the painful task of snipping it off bit by bit with a pair of pliers to make painting easier.

The task took most of the day, but when I returned triumphant dripping blood and black paint, I was for some reason refused entry back into the house until I had been hosed down. That sanitising fluid really stings when applied to open wounds.

The wounds had scarcely scabbed over when I was called into action again, when it was decided that the block paving in the back garden needed a serious squirting with the power washer.

Now this is a serious piece of equipment which does a wonderful job of lifting the dirt off the paving, but there is a drawback – all that dirt accumulated from overflowing plant pots, dog paws, incontinent birds and a myriad other sources has to go somewhere.

I always manage to rearrange it over the conservatory windows, plant pots, the fence and any washing Mrs Hextol may have left on the line – most of it however ends up on me, making me look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I did try swishing some of the accumulated muck off the garden gate with the power washer, but the jet was so strong it scooshed off all the paint, and I had to paint it again!