Climbing up the walls   Leave a comment

The title is often the hardest part of these posts, which is sad really.

After yesterday’s post WordPress told me it was my 69th. Huzzah? Probably depends on your point of view, that.
It also suggested three post titles. Unfortunately, answering two of them could well get me sectioned, and the third is rather boring: no. That was “have you ever lived in a different country?”. Unless you count London as a different country, which would be a bit unfair on London as it’s more like a different planet.

Anyway, on Thursday morning I had to wake up bright and early (half-past ten is all too bright and early when you didn’t get to bed until after four. If there is an it in which one can be, on Thursday I was not.) because my sister was coming round to show me how to wallpaper.

I’m not sure why she decided to come around. I didn’t ask her to, but when I mentioned that wallpapering is what I was going to do she suddenly wanted to. Maybe she thought that I’d cock it up completely if left to my own devices. Maybe it was just because she really likes mucking around with wallpaper paste; she did seem quite fond of the stuff. Maybe she wanted to eat Tangfastics and was holding out for the chance of a free dinner in the evening.

And so it was that I learned to wallpaper. For those of you who have never tried, wallpapering is a messy, slow, fiddly, tedious faff of nuisance and bother. I’m sure my holding such an opinion is unsurprising considering my enthusiasm for all other matters decorative.

Despite my sister’s mocking it wouldn’t be fair to say I was bad at it, really – the paper I’ve hung is straight, flat and joins up pretty well with adjacent strips. It’s certainly at least on a par with any bits anyone else has hung.

But by no means am I fast or efficient. Each strip can take half an hour or an hour to hang. Trying to get soggy paper to stick to a wall exactly against another sheet of soggy paper without crinkles, bubbles, overlaps or gaps is a pain in the arse. Especially considering that paper will shrink as it dries. And then you have to cut off the excess at the top and bottom and into any corners, and cutting soggy paper with a knife against the blatantly curved surface of the walls or ceiling is a nightmare, and leaves annoying fluffy edges and slight tears and pulls. Cutting soggy paper with scissors is even worse than cutting normal paper, and you spend ages sorting out the edge so it’s mostly straight and not overhanging the ceiling/skirting-board/corner. All the time getting covered in cold, smelly slime.

And once you’ve done all that, despite the fact that you’re being as careful and precise as possible, it looks a mess. Okay, it’s no more of a mess than anybody else’s, and I have been told many times over the past few days that decorating isn’t a precise science*, but seeing all the gaps, tears, unstraight edges, overlaps and other imperfections is upsetting and frustrating after all the work that’s went into it. It doesn’t matter that you can’t see it from a few feet away, or that it’s as good as it can be. It matters that it’s wrong and that I know it.

That frustration often manifested as hissing and growling at paper that creased rather than flattened, or wouldn’t line up, but only once was the annoyance such that I threw the brush across the room – at an unpapered wall, of course; I’m not that stupid. So that was one small victory.

I got us both fish, chips and a sausage for dinner, which was probably the best bit of the day.

* Building and decorating seem to use measurement tolerances that wouldn’t be acceptable to astronomers studying fairly distant objects. It’s quite upsetting** and I don’t know how they get away with it. But my house was made by pouring lumpy concrete into a mould fifty-odd years ago, so what can you do?

** Also upsetting is using spirit-levels to measure vertical straightness. They do know how they work, right? How do they expect to get parallel lines like that?


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