I dislike painting and decorating. Or to be more accurate I dislike the preparation work which precedes the painting and decorating. It’s messy, fiddly, long drawn out and invariably the room looks far worse, positively depressing, before it starts to look better. Furniture has to be dragged away from the walls; carpets have to be covered up and protected; cracks have to be filled and smoothed over; flaking paint has to be removed; ragged edges of paintwork skimmed with filler; walls washed down; bare plaster sealed. Then the parts which the roller cannot reach have to be ‘edged’ with a brush before the transformation with a roller, the only really satisfying part of the entire protracted process.
Some years ago when we were both working we hired in a painter and decorator. Not a DIY cowboy but a bon fide painting and decorating company, we wanted a pukka job. We tried them out on one room with the prospect of moving on to other rooms if we were pleased with the result. We weren’t. The main deficiencies were the lack of preparation and the fact that they used ‘professional’ paint: I knew it was professional paint because it said so in big, bold letters on the side of the tin. I guess it was called ‘professional’ because it was in large tin and was cheap. It was also thin and required the application of multiple coats to give acceptable coverage thereby incurring repeated visits and higher labour costs. They quoted for one coat and we naively assumed that they would use ‘One Coat Paint’.
The result was so poor that we resolved to always do the decorating ourselves in future.
I should explain that we have never been into redecorating and changing the décor every 3 or 4 years. With us it’s more like 10-15 years. The deterioration is so gradual that it creeps up on us until one day the scales fall from our eyes, perhaps on the one occasion each month when the sun streams in early in the morning as the curtains are opened, and we realize how shabby things have become. The redecoration of that room then goes onto the mental list headed “I must get round to painting it this decade” with the subtext “in the winter when we can’t be doing things outside”. It usually stays on the mental list for quite some time until something triggers us into action.
I started the preparation work on the basement room which we use for guests, and which we call ‘The Cellar’, after Christmas in 2008. We had had damp problem which had affected the paintwork on the wall in one corner so I started by stripping the flaking paint off exposing a large area of bare plaster. Then in January 2009 with interest rates on savings having plummeted to 0.25% we took advantage of very favourable sale prices and bought a new carpet for the ground floor which necessitated changing priorities. Consequently the basement room was then neglected and has not been touched since. The damp problem re-appeared and I suddenly realized that I couldn’t expect guests to stay in there any more.
The damp problem was sorted out by a repair to the roof as noted in my last blog (13 January). Soooo, no more excuses, time to do something about the decorating. The preparation took nearly a week but Saturday night and it was complete. About midnight I got so excited by the prospect of finishing that I started the painting phase of the job by doing the ceiling edges with a brush.
But the decorating is just part of a broader thing for me. The cliché is that every journey begins with the first step. That’s what struck me last week. It’s time to try to move on. Time for positive action. Difficult but necessary.
I started the decorating and I also started preparing the garden ready for spring. I dug over part of the veg patch to let the 3 nights of frost we had break up the soil and I planted 3 short rows of blue potatoes in the hope that I can protect them from any frosts we might now have should they poke their heads up too soon.
I also started to take positive steps towards planning my trip to Greece this summer, filling in some of the detail for the rough itinerary I have in mind. It will be very different from anything I have done before and I’ll need to polish up on my vocabulary. And my noun endings. And my verb conjugations.
On Friday, as part of my Positive Action Plan, I went to the first class of a 15 week course on creative writing run as part of the Keeping Old Farts Out Of Mischief Progamme run by the local council. I assume that’s the programme which it’s part of because it’s in the morning when Young Farts are in work … or school ….. or college. ‘Creative’ writing isn’t really my thing, I don’t really do fiction, I leave that to writers of crime novels or political party manifestos, but I’m hoping it will stimulate the Little Grey Cells. Let’s hope my ramblings don’t become too arty-farty.
In the meantime there is the decorating to finish.. Hopefully by the end of the week. Unless I get dragged out and obliged to enjoy myself too often.