Saturday, 4 February 2012

Tackling the Devil's Own Wallpaper (Before the 6 Nations Rugby)

(sing a la Pink Floyd: Oi kids - leave those walls alone).
I have a lesson for all true workingmen, rugby fans, Christians and husbands.

My story begins this morning. Just prior to becoming a "six nations widow" Mrs H made me promise to re-wallpaper a section of one of the childrens' rooms (which used to be shared by a daughter and son - making us officially homeless, how ridiculous!) if only for the impending visit of some delegates from the Tulloch side of the family.

So there I was, fresh from the stress of taking Patch to his obedience lesson of a Saturday morning (which deserves a missive all of its own!), opening up the wallpaper having prepared everything and gathered all the tools of my trade.

Now, lest there be any doubt at all, I am a male. Yes, a bloke. Not without some refinement, but a blokey bloke nonetheless. As such, instructions, like maps, are an alien thing to me. I will jump in at the deep end and busy away, often to be corrected by Mrs H as she calmly reads through the instructions.

Today i discarded all the wrappings of the wallpaper and started rolling it out on the pasting table, dipped my brush in the paste and proceeded to swipe it across the wallpaper. This of course is the way I was taught to do it so many years ago by Old Pa Hurley. The paste seeps into the wallpaper, you fold the paper over, let it drop over the edge of the pasting table, before doing the same with the 'second half' then both ends would be folded over, ready to be carried carefully, up the ladders to be placed on the wall. It's surely a method as old as the hills (which I believe is the same age as Old Pa Hurley give or take a decade, but who's counting?).

Well, imagine my shock this morning when I pasted the paper and the paste did not start to soak in. It sat on the back of the paper in pools and droplets like water on a wax jacket. Something was not right. I checked the paste, but it was mixed to near perfection. Hmmm. I didn't like what was going on, so decided to cross over to the "other side." OK, I'm not Liberace or anything, but to the shame of men everywhere I actually fished the wallpaper packaging out of the bin. I know, I know... The very saints in heaven will be peering down over their reading glasses, as they pause in their hymns of praise to gently 'tut tut' at events unfolding.

Yet I have an excuse! You see this wallpaper was the very work of the devil. It was evil, and an evil so wicked as to overthrow years of tradition, when workingmen in their smelly overalls would pluck a pencil from behind an ear, scratch their backside (pencil optional), then proceed to work out measurements on the wall they were about to cover. I could sense ancient craftsmen like William Morris turning in their graves. You see, this wallpaper was not meant to have paste put on it! Oh infernal works unknown to man. What twisted malevolence could think up such a thing? Are our traditions, steeped in the sweat and cheese sandwiches of workers down the decades, so easily overturned? With nary a warning on the packaging???

As the tiny, microscopic writing (in several languages) on the reverse of the little title paper, informed the unaware, the idea is that paste is to be 'rollered' directly onto the wall, then the dry paper hung on the wet wall. What perversion! 'Tis the reversal of all that was normal and right. Some say the end of the world or some great tribulations would be signalled by men dressing as women (and I think we passed that stage some years back!) or the widespread move away from Faith (ditto). But might there, in some ancient writings -- perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls or in the footnotes of some second century Council of the Church, hidden deep in the Vatican vaults -- be a warning against the day when "ye very manner of wall hanging adhesion would be reversed, making a mockery of Creation." There should be!

So there I was, wiping the paste off the back of the devil's own wallpaper! That such a day should ever rear it's ugly head. I feel somewhat ashamed, that I may have unwittingly heralded the advent of some dread event, that I have brought shame on the Hurley family, and especially Old Pa Hurley and the Hurley men stretching back generations. No longer will I be able to tuck that nibbled half pencil remnant behind my ear and munch on a cheese sandwich (pickle optional), having betrayed the traditions of the workingman. If there were a Guild of St Paul (the Patron of Decorators) and if I, in my fumbling unprofessional way, were a member of such an august body, I would no doubt face dismissal and their opprobrium for such infernal activities.

So there we have it. I eventually got the devil's own wallpaper up (by "painting" the paste on the wall with a brush), but let that be an end to it. I have told Mrs H that in future when choosing and buying the wallpaper she wants me to put up, she must ensure it is of the traditional kind, that the choirs of heaven (and Old Pa Hurley - surely their shop steward on earth?) would approve of.

So now I've told you this story (tapping away whilst watching a resurgent France beat Italy in the first game of the six nations championship) I feel somewhat purged of my sins, after this public confession. The Calcutta Cup (England v Scotland) is on soon and we have all the excitement of Ireland v Wales tomorrow. Having tangled with the diabolical wallpaper I feel I can sit back and enjoy the game that brings so much civilisation to the world and enjoy it with a fairly clean conscience.

Here endeth the lesson.


No foul language please