It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman with three rooms of wood chip wallpaper to remove is going to be tired, irritable and in for a nasty surprise by the time she has finished the job. Even armed with steamer and a deadly looking four inch Harris wallpaper removal device it takes hours to shift the stuff although there were moments when the paper lulled me into a false sense of security by dropping from the wall as though exhausted from maintaining the same position since the early 1980s.
Incidentally, it turns out that there’s a word rhyming with tripper that begins with s that I can’t use because it has more than one meaning – but trust me when I say that this job does’t involve removing anything other than wallpaper whilst wearing the oldest clothes I own, a fetching scarf tied tightly over my hair which still ends up stiff with dust and more itchy than when I caught nits from the children in any event. There’s also the small matter of a dust mask that makes me look like Darth Vader’s less attractive sister and which accompanied by the steamer makes my glasses steam up.
I’ve got the knack of wood chip removal now though. First cut the paper with the wallpaper removal device – not too enthusiastically or else you mark the plaster underneath- then apply steam and begin to scrape from the skirting boards up. If you’re really lucky you can get a large chunk of the stuff off, if you’re not its a question of finding a weak spot and working it. Actually I rather enjoyed it in a strange way. Its a bit like peeling dry skin after you’ve managed to get burned in the sun. And then there’s the feeling of satisfaction when you stand back and admire the de-papered wall. Job done – boom.
Sadly that was the point when I realised that its true what they- whoever they might be- say about using wood chip to disguise plaster that’s got more wrinkles, cracks and craters than an elephant’s bottom.
I must have been quite shocked by this discovery because the Harris wallpaper removal device which has become my most favourite thing in the whole wide world during the last week veered out of control just as I finished. Somehow, and since I’m not going to go for the slow motion replay I’ll never know, it leaped from the wall and carved a line down my wrist – remarkably following the vein. I’m blaming the last strip of wood chip!
Leaving ‘he who is occasionally obeyed’ leaning out of a first floor window trying to shut a window I’d opened earlier and which now refused to close, I dashed to the pharmacy round the corner dripping the odd droplet of blood as I went. Apparently ‘He who is occasionally obeyed’ called after me whether I’d got my purse or not. I didn’t hear him. I was too busy wondering how tough vein walls really are. But it does account for the startled lady coming towards me who asked me if I was alright – which was very kind of her all things considered.
Antiseptic wipes, lint and micropore tape were duly purchased and applied. The young assistant was most helpful and very interested in how I’d achieved a wound suggestive by its location and the fact that it was self-inflicted that I wanted to end it all- but said she couldn’t apply the bandage. I didn’t think to ask why. I assume it has something to do with litigation or assault or possibly the fact that a woman wearing old clothes covered in wood chip debris, her hair sticking up in all directions like Medusa, a mask round her neck, her hands and nails ingrained with paint, paper and plaster and a slightly panicked expression on her face had just burst into an emporium more suited to Miss Marple than a domestic goddess in very heavy disguise- think bay windows, wooden panelling, tins of lily-of-the-valley talc etc.