Monday, 9 May 2011

When Aunty Mary helped paper the spare bedroom

I have been preparing things for our family reunion. We are getting together at the Gwent Family History Society Open Day. They have very kindly said we can use one of the rooms they don't use at County Hall, Cwmbran for our family get together. I have printed several small branches of the family tree for each of the family groups and a big version of the whole tree as it stands at the moment for everyone to look at. I have also put all the newspaper cuttings that my Dad had collected into an album and also I have scrapbooked loads of old photographs of previous family parties and weddings and stuff.
It last night, after dinner with my cousin that I sat down to watch Robson Green's programme about the Pitmen who were painters in the north-east. One of the pictures they painted was of a family decorating the parlour and this brought a picture into my head of the day my mother, my Aunty Mary and I papered the ceiling in the middle bedroom at the farm.
I have no idea why we had to paper the ceiling, mother had decided and who were we to argue?
There were two sets of step-ladders and a plank; a sweeping brush (new), a bucket of paste, a pating table and several rolls of cheap paper and several pasting brushes. The floor was covered with dust sheets and the window was open.
Mother measured the length of the first strip of paper, cut the required amount from the roll and began pasting it. She and Aunty Mary delicately held the strip and awkwardly climbed the steps onto the plank.
Oh, did I tellyou the room was about 15 feet square? well it was.
I stepped forward with the sweeping brush and gently raised the middle of the strip to the middle of the ceiling. Mum and Aunty gently unfurled the paper and began the task of smoothing it onto the ceiling without stretching it but firmly enough that it wouldn't fall back down again. They were both of them out at the ends of the plank and as they worked they gradually came towards the middle.
This was where the plan went a little awry. The closer they came to each other the more the plank bowed with their weight and the less contact they had with the ceiling and the paper. I stood on the floor with my sweeping brush holding the paper up and tried so hard not to laugh. I failed. Mother started to giggle Aunty tried hard but soon was leaning against the steps at her end of the plank gasping with laughter. Then the paper started to sag so they would gently move to the middle of the plank and this would set them off again. they would work their way back to the ends of the plank and wipe their eyes.
I was sent to find the old sweeping brush the dusting mop and some old pillow cases from the airing cupboard. These were used in the same way as my sweeping brush and pretty soon we had things back under control.
It did remind Aunty of the time she and her sisters were decorating, before any of them left their parental home, and Chris decided that the only thing was to paper under the stairs. Apparently there were five of them under the stairs holding the paper up when the parish priest arrived to enquire why they hadn't been at mass the day before..... TRAPPED!

1 comment:

Sian said...

What a classic! Another wonderful story - I love the way the title sounds like an old music hall song and really sets the scene.

Your family reunion sounds absolutely wonderful.