Did you hear the one about the paintbrush, the bra and the lawnmower? It goes something like this.

During the past week I seem to have been on a never-ending journey involving the return of goods either myself or Mrs P has purchased.

In my case it's usually because I've been brainwashed by subliminal messages transmitted from deep within the bowels of Bunnings or Mitre 10.

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When I've got home, far enough away for the mind altering radio waves, I've discovered I don't actually need another hacksaw or a box of 60mm decking nails - the three unopened boxes in the garage will do just fine.

As best I can make out, in Mrs P's case, its basically because the item of clothing she bought won't go with anything. This is in spite of her telling me not that long ago that she had bought a pair of black pants - because they "go with anything".

Hmm. I made myself dizzy shaking my head from side to side trying to work that one out.

So anyway, one day last week I found myself driving home with a paintbrush and a lawnmower.

The paintbrush I desperately needed, I think. The lawnmower was a pick up from the shop where they perform a transplant on it once a year to get me through the next summer.

When I got home I discovered Mrs P had been shopping too and was now the proud owner of a new pink bra.

But now there's a problem. Or three.

My newly fixed lawnmower won't go so I need to take it back to the shop to see what's happened with the spark plug transplant they performed.


I've also discovered I already have a paintbrush like the one I just bought so that can go back too.

Oh and while I'm at it I may as well return the pink bra. The lady in the shop forgot to take the security tag off it. Don't ask me how she did it but somehow Mrs P has walked out and the shoplifter alarms haven't gone off.

Actually they may have. She recalls some commotion going on behind her but by that stage she was out the door and halfway to the getaway car so she didn't bother to go back.

Groan. So now I have to (possibly) face the music.

For ease of transport I put the paintbrush in the same bag as the bra and off we go.

The mower goes back to hospital first. There is deep concern the transplant has been unsuccessful.

Nobody wants to say it but I've a feeling the mower may not be coming home this time. It might be time to gather the weedeater and the garden rake for a little chat to prepare them for the worst.

The paintbrush is returned next.

Nothing new to the staff here. I'm a regular. "How's Mrs P?," says the guy behind the counter as he takes the bag I hand over and readies himself for the computerised credit like he's done for me numerous times before.

I'm in the trade department where real men and tough builders hewn from granite congregate, away from the obvious DIYers buying a little bag of nails to put up a shelf. I'm sure you get the picture.

Luckily I'm first in line as the builder gods around me talk of their latest jobs and the new XYZ power tool they have just bought.

But suddenly the talk has ceased and there is an uncomfortable silence.

The contents of my return bag has been tipped out on to the counter and there, for all to see, is a paintbrush ... and a nice pink bra.

Seconds later the entire trade department is filled with fall-about laughter and people appear from all over to see what the fuss is about.

For once I'm short of a word in response and grab the pink problem, stuff it back in the bag and head for the door.

I've decided if I ever get in that situation again at the trade counter (what are the odds?) I'm going to say its not a bra but a new style of earmuffs, perfect for a noisy building site.

I just hope I don't get asked to put them on for a demonstration.

■ Kevin Page is a teller of tall tales with a firm belief too much serious news gives you frown lines. Feel free to share stories to kevin.page@nzme.co.nz .