Home renovations aren't my thing, but a friend needed a hand . . . He's refitting a bathroom and I helped carry in the new bath, loo and washbasin, and dispose of the old. That done, I spent hours stripping paper from the bathroom walls. Those of you who've tackled this know it's no easy job. The best method, I was assured, is to make long slashes in the paper with a Stanley knife, first one way then the other, creating a diamond pattern of cuts. Next you spray water into the cracks. Using a scraper, you can then get the paper off in bits and strips. Of course, as any DIYer will tell you, it's never as straightforward as it sounds. There are stubborn patches which haven't read the script.
And if, as we found, the flooring under the bath is wet and needs replacing, then the job takes on a new dimension. More time and money before that dream bathroom becomes a reality.
Day two - today - I woke with tired arms from overworked muscles. But, as we worked, the mood was positive. My friend has done many such jobs and remains unfazed by problems. He has the know-how and the tools. He works at a steady pace, never rushing. He takes coffee and cigarette breaks. The transformation progressed: each floor sweeping, each wall screw, a step nearer the end. When I left he was connecting water pipes, his radio tuned to a golden oldies station.
He doesn't do it just for the money. He gets a buzz from a job well done. And he's in demand - word gets around.
Anyone dreaming of a new-look bathroom? Area: west London and out to the airport. Leave a comment. I'll get back to you.