I blame Noel, he blames me, we’ve reached a compromise, we blame each other. He started it by suggesting that the pile of rubbish (or collectables as I know them) in the spare bedroom could be concealed by a built-in wardrobe. He was right.
Garry, our indispensable joiner, had already won our hearts by fitting reveals to the new windows, making them into giant picture frames displaying village life on the move. They replaced dirty plastic which had just about hidden a multitude of sins and transformed our rooms, illuminating everything, including the collectables.
The shine from the new wardrobes cast a yellow glow on the poorer relations in our room. Our wardrobe doors weren’t white any more, they were yellow, nicotine yellow. And we’ve never smoked. Our room looked decidedly dowdy, so there was only one course of action to take, call Garry.
It was going to be a simple, if faffy, build-then-decorate job. After getting a season ticket to the tip where we deposited the yellow wardrobe and dusty (sic) pink carpet, complete with the 1991 copies of the Daily Mail the previous occupants had spread on the underlay, presumably so they could grind it under their feet, it was just a matter of stripping the wallpaper, getting the new wardrobe fitted, then making good and decorating. A few days, tops.
In the meantime, we had moved the contents of our room into the spare room, stuffed even more rubbish into the spacious wardrobe, calmed the cats, who were accidentally shut into wardrobes, drawers and suitcases, and looked forward to our transformed bedroom.
The next person who says ‘these things are never as easy as they first seem’ will get a wallpaper scraper rammed up a sunshine-free place. There were at least four layers of paper, the last one painted with gloss, the only crumb of comfort was that neither of us was going to remove the paper which would be covered by the wardrobe, let it be a little present for the next owner of this house, after all the previous owners left us plenty.
I was dreading discovering the cause of the lumpiness in the chimney breast. Tapping with the scraper made a hollow sound. Underneath was hardboard papered with the finest the 50s could offer, covering the hole left by the fireplace. Out initial thought was to paper over the lot, so it would be just as before, but neater.
But here was a mystery, right here in our bedroom, a board, a hole, maybe a passage to a mini Narnia, how could we not look? I imagined that behind it would be soot, a few pigeon skeletons and pigeon poo, we stood waiting for the great reveal. I expected it to be a rubbley hole and suggested to Noel that Garry could board up the sides to make an alcove, what a great place for a cat to sleep, or we could put our running trophies and medals there. It’s only a small alcove.
There was no soot, or corpses, sadly no kingdom of talking animals either. But there was a fine fireplace which I immediately saw as a beautiful feature for the room, no longer boring black, but a lighter colour and the fine detail of the cast iron flowers picked out in greens and yellows. We can always put the trophies in the hearth.
So here begins a journey of discovery and decorating, a bit longer than anticipated, but ultimately rewarding (remind me I said that when I’m covered in plaster dust). It may take some time. See you at the other side!