COLUMN: May 11, 2011

IF YOU asked me what I thought the worst thing in the world is, I would um and ah and size you up and give you the answer I think you would want to hear, because you wouldn’t accept my truthful answer.

For example, if you appeared earnest and had some sort of rubber band around your wrist, I would say, with a pained look, “Injustice,” and sigh. If you appeared shallow and a bit thick, I would pick a celebrity who had been popular last week and say his or, more likely, her name, and we would both chuckle and say, “Yes, she’s dreadful.”

But, if I were forced to tell the truth, perhaps by being encircled by Wonder Woman’s golden lasso of truth – and if that appears unlikely, I would suggest it would be no more unlikely than anybody wanting my opinion – I would say that I was conflicted.

I could not have decided between two terrible things. Until last week.

The first is women wearing curlers outdoors all day Saturday. I don’t know if this is just a quirk of living in Liverpool – I don’t get about much – but I find it offensive beyond reason.

I think it is the ostentatious nature of the display. “Look, everyone,” these young women are saying, “I am going out tonight on the razz and consorting with people who deserve to see me at the very peak of my beauty. You people, on the other hand, are pond scum and I show my contempt for you by wearing gigantic curlers. Now, point me at the footballers.”

Yet, if I left the house without my trousers and pants, signalling the fact that on Saturday night, I would be painting the town red and consequently wearing my very best trousers and pants, I would be the one arrested for a breach of the peace.

The second thing is wallpapering. I spent most of last week wallpapering, a task which should be straightforward if not incredibly easy. This is how wallpapering should be:

A Pull old wallpaper off wall.

B Put glue on back of new wallpaper.

C Put new wallpaper on wall.

D Have a nice cup of tea.

This is how wallpapering actually is:

A Peel back a bit of wallpaper.

B Give wallpaper a tug.

C Pull off a disproportionately small bit of wallpaper in relation to effort.

D Realise that only the vinyl covering has been removed.

E Have a nice cup of tea.

F Repeat step C – this time realising that only the vinyl is coming off – until all vinyl is off.

G Have a nice cup of tea.

H Go over the paper backing with a wet sponge and leave to soak.

I Have a nice cup of tea.

J Come back and realise the paper backing is now EXACTLY the same colour as the wall behind.

K Scrape the paper backing off the wall.

L Realise you cannot see which bits you have done because of paper backing/ wall colour similarity.

M Repeat steps I to L until fed up.

N Fill bucket with water and open packet of paste. Pour into bucket.

O Realise there’s nothing with which to stir paste. Borrow child’s sucker arrow. Hope he doesn’t notice.

P Carefully measure out strip of new wallpaper.

Q Paste back of wallpaper. Leave to soak, as directed.

R Attach to wall.

S Use brush to remove bubbles. Accidentally, but gently, scratch surface with wooden handle.

T Reflect on how easily paste-soaked wallpaper tears when accidentally, but gently, scratched with wooden handle.

U (First time) Use craft knife and ruler to trim paper to size. Realise that’s never going to work. (Subsequent times) Use scissors to trim paper.

V Repeat steps P-R.

W Slide strip to butt against previous strip. Reflect on how easily paste-soaked wallpaper tears when slid to butt against previous strip.

X Repeat from step P until all walls are covered.

Y Have a nice cup of tea. Notice air bubbles under first few strips.

Z Cry.

And that is why wallpapering is the worst thing in the world.

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