We did make an exciting discovery underneath the Anaglypta; a scrawled note on the wall in marker pen that read ‘Carl, Shaun and Alison stripped here 1978 (wallpaper)’. It was a wondrous moment in amongst the toil. A message from the past, from the year before I was born which, with all the impact of the Blue Peter time capsule told us much about the former owners, reminded us of the prevailing sense of humour of the late seventies but mainly informed us of the fact that that room hadn’t been touched for 35 years. Perhaps Jill was right, it was time to renovate.
We are now moving into the period of pregnancy called ‘nesting’. This is a complete misnomer; were it just about rooting out some bits of twig and bringing them home then that would be fine. That is not what they mean by ‘nesting’; in reality my wife Jill is discovering a thousand different jobs every day that simply must be completed by the time baby arrives in November.
Handy Andy I am not. The walls of our first flat resembled so much Swiss cheese by the time I’d finished with them and only several judiciously placed pictures helped us sell it when we eventually decided that my quasi-demolition work was done there. Yet I am still expected to wield my power drill with nothing remotely approaching mercy at an unsuspecting, partially decorated nursery.
There are light fittings to put up (yes, I’m allowed near electrics too), wallpaper to hang and flooring to be laid and for the life of me I can’t remember where I left the phone number for 60 Minute Makeover. This is more a case of 60 Day Makeover and that is if we’re lucky.
The first, toughest and hottest of all jobs was the wallpaper stripping. It’s actually quite satisfying to get rid of some of the last remaining vestiges of the previous owners’ taste and the knowledge that your touch will soon be stamped upon the room is exciting as long as you ignore the aching arms, sweating brows and hair full of scrappy paper that come with the initial part of the process.
I asked the listeners to my radio show for suggestions for a message to write to the next generation of budding Laurence Llewelyn Bowens who will take on the mighty challenge of undoing all my semi-good decorating work in years to come. Amongst the myriad, fairly amusing suggestions for horror film style ‘The House Made Me Do It’ type scrawlings and a couple of votes for ‘sorry we didn’t pay a professional to do this’ (harsh but fair) it was decided that we should write a heartfelt message to our unborn child. So now, underneath the yellow tree paper, it reads ‘can’t wait to meet you, it took ages to do this, Dad got gloss in his hair’. It’s the first time I’ve referred to myself as ‘dad’ and even recounting it I’ve got a lump in my throat.
Perhaps in another 35 years my kids will uncover that message and be suitably touched. Although let’s face it, they’ve got my genes, they’ll more than likely have paid a man to do it for them.