You never know what you’ll find…

You never know what you’ll find…

… when you start working on houses. I’m fascinated by the palimpsests you find when you start peeling back wallpaper and lifting carpets. Old newspapers, (the ads! the house prices!) Old wall paper. More, older wallpaper. Patches of paint and plaster like the three different kinds on this wall alone.

Patches of paint and plaster

Patches of paint and plaster

Peel back some wallpaper and find hardboard used instead of plasterboard. Lift some floorboards and uncover pipe-work like the boiler room of the Titanic after the iceberg struck.  My house appears to have been inhabited entirely by men with nagging wives and no practical skills.

I like the sense of fellow-feeling one has from uncovering someone else’s work, and I wonder who is going to uncover mine.

This is my latest find: a strange little housey tattoo in the plaster I uncovered when I was stripping wallpaper the other day. It appears to say Guns’n’xxxx

Guns'n'xxxx

Guns'n'xxxx

How odd. How interesting.

But most of all, first and last, I love the mottled surface of whitewash on old plaster.

The mottled surface of whitewash on old plaster

The mottled surface of whitewash on old plaster

If all the walls looked like that, I’d be woefully tempted to leave them well alone.

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13 responses to “You never know what you’ll find…

    • That’s the kiddy! But why pencil it onto the plaster?

      We used to have the intro lines to Civil War on our answerphone – the ones from Cool Hand Luke:

      “What we’ve got here is… f-faylyer to communicate. Some men you just cain’t reach. S-so you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it… well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you do.”

      But then my ex had an onset of the sensibles and we deleted it.

      Thanks for the link!

      Ben

  1. It’s all the heavy metal we use to wear around our bodies. It must have been the brain-equivalent of eating too much tuna.

    Or, of course, it could have been the drugs.

    I drew this on my GCSE folder, I believe!

  2. Most of what we uncovered was icky lath and plaster (oh, the choking dust if you disturb it!) or, in the newer parts of the house, an exciting sheet of lead or two in the walls surrounding what was a dental x-ray room. But every stage of the renovation process was fascinating, whether it involved taking up a carpet, removing some wallpaper or uncovering a hidey-hole in the attic which had clearly been undisturbed for decades.

    I recently heard this song, and your post reminded me of it. The relevant part is the last minute or so. Painting the Kitchen (the version I have on CD is clearer, but this is the only version on YouTube):

  3. Oh. Interesting… I was expecting a link there. Not the actual video. Erm. Feel free to edit it out of the comment. How strange.

  4. I’m firmly in the camp of buying only a house either new or from the first owner, after my parents’ experience. My stepfather’s dad died and left them a “cottage”, what had been a pleasant home in a woodland with a stream running through it, until they put the M6 through the bottom of the garden.

    They decided to do it up, based on the assumption that it was, at most, late Victorian. A literally unbelieveable amount of work later, they moved into what they now understand to be a house which could not have been built any later than about 1600. The trouble and expense this caused put me off older properties for life.

    In other news, my house now looks like this:
    http://abstrusegoose.com/147

    only with more speakers. Surround sound ftw!

    • I think my electricians would agree with you about the trouble and expense SoRB – though they stuck by their fixed price despite everything my walls crumbled at them.

  5. You’ve reminded me of the time we decided to strip all the layers of wallpaper away and start afresh in the house where i grew up. We found pictures of stick people that we kids had made on the walls (and that our mum & dad had presumably been unable to get off). They might have been an eyesore at the time but they were very moving to find all those years later.

  6. Felicity Waters

    like your wall analysis – all comments about walls are welcome – but just not grammer

    • Since you are so extremely scared of criticism Felicity, I’ve removed the link to your blog. That should keep you nice and safe from critics. And spammers.

  7. It occurs to me that most people who’ve written on your wall in the last two or three years have done so on Facebook, rather than literally. No chance of stumbling across that in sixty years’ time, unfortunately.

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