JW  is in the midst of redecorating our main living room. It is a through sitting room/diner which divides easily into two areas so last week he did the sitting area and has now started the dining area which should be easier as one wall is completely covered by bookshelves and cupboards and the far end is mostly taken up by French doors out to the garden.

He is very careful in his preparations and moves or covers everything first and we had a giggle when we thought back to my father’s method of decorating. He was a very energetic and enthusiastic DIY man, but alas his talent was not matched by his enthusiasm!

JW takes his time and plans carefully. Dad would suddenly take it into his head that the room was getting shabby and would announce that he was going to repaint or paper a room, this could be 7am or 7pm or any hour in between.:)

He would dive down into his workshop in the cellar and, if he had the materials, on would go the overalls and he would start. Mum and I would be rushing around one step ahead of him moving things or covering them in the hope of protecting as much as possible. We knew that the next day (when he was out) we would be going round removing paint from the light switches, window panes and door handles, or trimming the edges of the wallpaper overlapping the skirting boards and door jambs. My mother became quite adept at this surreptitious activity and I think Dad always thought he had done a great job!

When I was very small paint was in short supply and we seemed to have primrose distemper on the walls and mid brown paintwork, then in the 50s Dad discovered mushroom coloured paint so everything was painted mushroom. Outside the fences and trellis were painted battleship grey (I don’t know whether he was missing the Navy or whether he got a job lot of war surplus paint) but this paint seemed to last for many years!

After the mushroom paint we moved on to cream/buttermilk, then came brilliant white and finally magnolia!

Dad’s energy came in very useful when we bought our first house which was a neglected Victorian house and we had to strip off about twelve layers of wallpaper. We (JW, me and three friends) had spent hours struggling with one wall. Dad went in next morning, while we were at work, finished stripping that room and then did the bedroom, bagged up all the rubbish and met us at their home for lunch!

JW and his parents moved frequently with his father’s job and usually had to redecorate and one of his fondest memories is, as a young teenager, painting a room whilst listening to his only jazz record “The best of Barber,Bilk and Ball” on his much loved Dansette record player until the needle nearly wore through the record 🙂