Friday, 13 June 2008

Blistering Paste Of Change

Back in the long distant past, possibly some time just after Mafeking was relieved, we bought two rolls of rather nice Laura Ashley wallpaper to cover up the hideous peach abomination left in our bedroom by the clearly colour- and taste-blind previous owners.

Due to a not inconsiderable (and, in my view, perfectly justified) fear of making a complete and utter balls of it, these rolls of doom have laid (lain? lied? layeth?) under the bed for months, taunting me from their prone position in the shadows into questioning my very existence as husband, father, son and life member of 'the mens' club. Finally, I could take no more and called my Dad on the electric telling-phone:
Me: "Excuse me, oh good and great Pater of mine, how tricky is that wallpapering thing like what I have heard so much about, then?"

Dad: "Pfft, nothing to it. You remember I once papered the walls and ceiling of the house in Deramore Drive in York with hessian...??"
Pausing only to painfully recall what it was like to be a nine year old boy living inside what was to all intents and purposes a semi-detached coconut, I invited him to come down from t'Dales and pass on the requisite dad-skills. Ten days and one quick trip to Wickes later ("What do you mean you don't own a pasting table?!"), we were all set.

I can happily admit here in this very public forum that measuring, cutting and pasting that first piece of very expensive paper took me nearly an hour. An HOUR. I've never been so nervous in all my life* - especially as it turned out we were on the absolute limit of drops-per-roll for the size of wall and could not afford even a single torn piece (the event of which would mean having to down tools and head for the nearest Laura Ashley in a desperate attempt to find a roll with the right batch number - not fun).

Gradually, despite the best efforts of the somewhat wonky Victorian bedroom walls and ceiling (cue much "Oh, thou wantest a right angle Squire Blythe? Ho ho, that's a good 'un, did you hear that, stap me vitals" etc and so on) I just about got into a rhythm - measure drop, measure paper, measure paper again, cut paper, paste paper, paste wall, hang, slide, match, brush (top > sides > bottom), brush excess out, trim ends, sponge wall, drink tea - and roughly half the job was done in not much over two hours. I was actually starting (almost) to enjoy it when suddenly...
Me: " what do I do about these here electrical sockets and that?"

Dad: "You cut like what is called an 'ole in it, son"

Me: "I do ... WTF?"
In fact, despite the nervous wielding of extremely sharp scissors (thanks, Wickes!) this was not as bad as it sounded and, whilst remembering we had absolutely no slack on spare paper, I papered right over the socket (that felt insane) then cut an 'X' to feed the socket through, and trimmed the triangular bits once it was tucked behind. Screw the socket back on et voilá! Perfection (steady on now - Bravado Ed.)

And suddenly, if suddenly can be applied to what was for some parties a slightly sticky three-hour tea drinking marathon, we were at the last drop:

More observant readers will have noted the casual stance adopted above - perhaps as if one were leaning on a lamp-post at the corner of the street until a certain little lady comes by, rather than desperately pushing a particularly stubborn air bubble to the side of the wall for the umpteeenth time.

Still. It is done. And if anyone is still reading after this incredibly boring and self-indulgent post (is there any other kind of blog?) then here is the wall as it currently looks:

But wait - there is a faint purpose to this nonsense. Yes, with this Sunday being 'Father's Day' (and you can put that apostrophe where the hell you please, my fellow pedant-o-bots) I would finally like to propose a toast:

Thanks Dad, for putting up with my cack-handed DIY skills and general procrastination for some 37.5 years. Here's to you. Cheers!!

* perhaps apart from my Grade 8 flute exam, opening the batting on the 1990 Old Woodleighans XI tour of Durham** and a Lewisham midwife handing me a very tiny Freyja.

** I got a third-ball duck, since you ask.


  1. w00t! Welcome to the wallpapering club. It's great in here. Although I have't been brave enough to do patterned paper yet, I have done some very nasty alcoves with socket combinations....and blogged about it too. I'm very proud for you.

  2. I spent such, such a long time taking all of the wallpaper off of everywhere that I really can't see myself... [Off] What's that Katherine? Yes their walls do look very nice.

    Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmm you Lightly!!!! DAAAAAMMM YOU!!!!


  3. Can't believe you've got to nearly 40 without papering anything and then decide to break your duck with a patterned paper....

    Helena, patterned wallpaper isn't much more difficult than plain to hang, you just need to calculate the drop properly and make sure you've got lots of wiggle room. In fact, there's something quite satisfying about lining two pieces up together to get a perfect join.

    Most difficult thing I ever papered? our downstairs loo in Waveney Ave. Smallest room in the house, pipes, boiler, cistern *and* the paper was patterned too. A right pain.

  4. Are you really 37.5??? But you only look 25...