In an act of rebellion, we painted the walls magnolia. Chocolate brown paintwork. Paper lantern lampshades. Habitat redcurrant accessories. Tasteful. Our first flat may have lacked a certain something, amenity wise – the bath was in the kitchen, so you could wash both potatoes and real toes simultaneously – but the decoration was the bee’s knees.
Ma and Pa had their first flat in the fifties, and very contemporary it was too. Red carpet, clean lines. They’d gone to the Ideal Home Exhibition and been taken by the look of a shelving unit bearing pot plants. Pa thought he’d have a go at making one; indeed, he did make one and it looked good until he put it on the wall. At which point, it lurched to one side. History doesn’t record what happened to the pot plants.
“I say,” said their GP, who was making a home visit to one of us kids. “I do like your asymmetric shelves. Very fashionable.”
“I made them myself,” replied Pa, modestly.
In the Sixties, we moved north of the river to a Thirties house. Eventually Ma and Pa made the décor their own by replacing the creams and greens of the original with modern, up to the minute colours. LittleBro’s box room was painted violet on three walls; the forth ‘feature’ wall being a deep purple. The rest of the house was much less radical, being largely orange. The kitchen had fashionable polystyrene ceiling tiles, with a slight brown splodge from when Ma forgot to take the lid off a tin of sponge pudding and it exploded.
The good folk who lived here – the bungalow to which ActorLaddie and I moved about eighteen months ago – must have partaken of the same psychedelic mushrooms in the summer of love. I have just finished painting over the orange paintwork in the hall and replaced the mustard colour hessian wallcovering. Next up is the kitchen: acid yellow/orange/brown wall tiles, green walls, brown melamine units and our old friends, polystyrene ceiling tiles. The work involved in doing the kitchen is well beyond our pay grade, involving relaying gas and water pipes and a complete replastering. So on Monday, Mr Cheerible arrives and, for a month or so, we are going to be without a kitchen, while all the gubbins from the kitchen will be in the living room.
The very thought of the upheaval makes me want to hide under the duvet until March. In fact, looking out at the sleet, it seems to me the only sane option. Wake me up in the Spring, someone.
Good luck – you’ll need it … from one still in the throes of decorating!