When father papered the parlour…

The mistake I made was in looking up.  I looked up in the bathroom.  And there was the ceiling, not very Sistine Chapel, more up above an underpass.

It’s three years since the house was done but my bathroom décor is five years of age.  Happy birthday bathroom paint.  It was done in a rush after at least six years of neglect.  The previous six years all my DIY skills had been turned to maintenance of my mother’s house.  It was her house but she delighted in pointing out minute deficits for me to correct.  I had, however to be ‘respectable at all times’ in case of callers, which is how I ended up gardening in high heels and a pearl necklace.  When I painted the long fence I had to take my overalls off to make the dinner and don my pearls to eat it and wash it up and then get kitted out to paint again, by which time my brush had gone rock hard.

Despite all that I was ready to tart up my own long-neglected domicile when she died but first I broke my arm, then I had cancer, so it was the OH who decorated the bathroom in January.  I had bought the paint and then got the plumbers in, in a rush. I wanted a shower installing as I didn’t think post surgery, I’d be able to step over the bath, into the bath, over which was the shower.  But plumbers being plumbers and shower trays being in short supply and the moon being in the seventh house and Jupiter aligning with Mars and whatnot, it was the OH who painted the ceiling while I was in hospital, for the plumbers, who failed miserably, leaving me to get washed in a bucket for two days when I got home and have plumbers for the rest of the week.  They should write it on the prescription: take two plumbers a day for a week, dragging your recently operated-on body into the kitchen three times a day to make them cups of tea, even though you don’t feel well enough to do it for yourself.  Ideal, really.

The OH is nobody’s painter.  It is not in his skill set.  He can do a number of things but painting in the house is not among them.  When he retired he did briefly go to art classes but he hated the teacher, who was rather rainbow alliance, with a passion, so that was the end of that.  He insisted on painting the garage floor, ‘stretching’ the paint with water.  I may, this summer, empty the garage and do the job properly.  You cannot paint a concrete floor with blue water and expect it to last.  It currently resembles a chameleon having a heart attack.

Quite suddenly, a week ago, I could stand the bathroom no longer.  I am currently waiting to hear from the hospital whether I have to have urgent hernia surgery or not.  I simply couldn’t face recuperating from surgery in an underpass, so I donned my 1980s panty girdle, that I found in the back of a drawer and got busy.

I am so glad I have a lift.  I could not have got a step ladder, three pots of paint, flattened cardboard boxes, a bucket of brushes and assorted other stuff, up the stairs with possible hernias*, in a girdle.

But with a lift you can, so I did.

I loved every minute of it, greatly assisted by the cataract surgery.  It is such a help to be able to see what you are painting, I didn’t need glasses for the skirting boards, either, which means that my short and long sight are better than they were just after surgery, or, more likely, that my brain is getting better at interpreting what my eyes are seeing.

I did the ceiling, walls, skirting and door, twice and then touched up the corridor in apparently a different white, which I’ll judge in a couple of days when it has gone solid.  I thought the painters argued for matt and I argued for silk and they won, but time will tell.

Painting a wall is such a zen activity.  Let your mind wander and you do a run or a dry patch, keep focussed and just go up and down, up and down, up and down, grasshopper, and you can then either stand on one leg and kick box, or just get a cup of tea and admire the lovely wall.  Paint is so permanent, for a little while too.  Unlike vacuuming, or cleaning a sink the effect of which activity lasts a good two minutes.  In the 17th century, housewives who had beaten earth floors, used to decorate them for the weekend with coloured sand sprinkled in patterns, which lasted until someone walked on them.  If you did the parlour, for Sunday, you would test the efficacy of the sermon as soon as the first clog slid across your lovely twiddles.

But painting the bathroom ceiling is a thing of lasting joy for a while, as long as you remember to flush with the lid down and gargle with your gob shut.  Just for a few moments there you are in 1512, knowing why Michelangelo did it.  I bet he shoved the painty rag in the back pocket of his jeans feeling very pleased with himself and then eased his girdle down and had a cup of tea, I know I did.


*My stairs do not have hernias, the lumps at the sides are entirely due to the carpet layers running out of sticky tape for the edges and hoping I would not notice.

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