It baffles me how the British call the practice of painting the interior of a house, "decorating". Where I come from, we call that "painting". You decorate cakes, Christmas cookies, brave soldiers… but walls?

I first heard this word on BBC's Changing Rooms circa 1999, when Rhiannon and I subscribed to cable and lost entire weekends to the Lifestyle Channel. Linda Barker and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen were so exotic, if not a bit colour blind. They called it "emulsion" instead of paint. Somehow that made their MDF-encrusted designs seem far superior to those on the Australian version of the show.

Changing Rooms

But now that I actually live in the land of Handy Andy, I refuse to Decorate with poncy Emulsion. WE PAINT WITH PAINT, dammit.

Gareth and I have begun the tedious process of tarting up our flat. We started in 2005 with the spare bedroom then abandoned the project due to lack of interest. But now we have the fancy shower everything else looks really scabby.

Doing DIY on the weekend feels so grown-up and depressing. The next step is matching fleeces and Midsomer Murders and the general End of Fun. I've heard of people painting their houses and going on to experience enjoyment in their lives, but it still feels like a slippery slope.

It's going alright so far. I accidentally walked through the paint tray and trekked paint through the flat then Gareth's roller disintegrated and distributed pube-like debris all over the ceiling, but that seemed more productive than last time when he knocked a five-litre paint tin off the ladder and coated himself, ceiling and carpet in Dulux Buttermilk.

My problem is a tendency to stand around waiting for instructions instead of getting stuck into the work. Once again I must attribute this to the Mothership as she used to tell me I was too messy to help with the painting. Instead I had to be her Roller Slave. She'd stand on a bar stool to paint the high bits, and when the roller ran dry she'd hold it out without even looking at me, and issue the snooty command, "LOAD!"

I'd put more paint on the roller and pass it back up so she didn't have to get off the chair and do it herself. Most times she'd hand it straight back, declaring it to be coated with too much or not enough paint. "RELOAD!" And how my whole body would twitch with the urge to paint over her eyeballs.

About Shauna Reid

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20 thoughts on “Load!

  1. Ahhh – I miss those days! WAIT, i am STILL doing it! We bought our house last year and had to paint the entire upstairs (3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, livingroom AND the hallway!) before our furniture came. We did it in two days. 1500 sq feet of walls!

    We’re about to attempt the basement over the winter though there’s tons of more “decorating” to do down there including getting some carpet, putting up a ceiling…. um, and making a bathroom from scratch!

    Trust me, at the end — if you picked nice emulsion colours (hehehe) — then you’ll feel more better in your wee flat. We painted over piglet pink, lettuce green and banana yellow — oohhh, and the murder room which required about 4 coats of paint to get over the bloody-red paint they originally painted with! EEEK… (you can see the before/afters on my facebook, under the “home” album)

    Hope hell is over soon…

  2. Comments closed on fake collar entry, but can I just say – 100% agree. But what is worse is – shoes with fake socks. I kid you not. Saw ’em in KMart Tamworth, circa 1987. Then again in Mathers in the Tamworth arcade, less than a week later.


  3. The pang of recognition: I’ve recently moved into a new flat which is in need of lots of DIY, TLC and various other abbreviated phrases.

    The achievement of doing a lot of it myself is quite satisfying. In my case, I’m the one who gets to do the ordering about. I’d better watch my eyeballs.

  4. Wanting to do it yourself is not a measure of growing old… That’s reserved for the wanting to pay someone else to do it! I am to that point already. I see all these DIY shows where they re-do their hardwood floors and I want mine redone but I believe I’d just rather have someone else do them for me. The trouble with that is that while I’m MATURE in that decision to “have it done”, my bank account is very IMMATURE!

    So I have throw rugs over the bad spots. Looks fine to me!

  5. Tee hee – I’ve just started decorating (sorry, couldn’t resist) my house, and once I’d got past the tedious wallpaper stripping and Polyfilla-ing and onto the painting I was so overjoyed. Must be years of having lived in rented flats with magnolia walls.

    Good luck!

  6. I AM old – don’t mind admitting it, but still won’t paint. We moved into this house 7 years ago when I had a 2 year old and was pregnant with our second. We thought for about a nano-second of decorating the walls which were still covered in the original builder’s magnolia and decided not to. Two kids in the house? Waste of time. Fast forward 7 years and we still have number 1 son’s original biro art work on the hall wall and numerous traces of the sort of greasy residue toddlers leave behind…just about everywhere really. Standards. I don’t have ’em.

  7. erk, decorating. I loathe it, Life is far too short.
    Naturally, one must paint at times, but that certainly does not mean one must enjoy it.

    I do hope it isnt a carpeted flat. Hard spiny carpet in buttermilk is not a nice surface to walk on barefoot. Or sit on to unwrap your gifts.

    Hope you get it all tarted up in time for chrissy! Lucky you! Wish I was up there!!!

  8. I had a similarly demanding mother, so I also tend to stand around waiting for instructions. I also totally agree with you on the ponciness of calling old-fashioned house paint ’emulsion.’

    ‘It’s going alright so far. I accidentally walked through the paint tray and trekked paint through the flat then Gareth’s roller disintegrated and distributed pube-like debris all over the ceiling, but that seemed more productive than last time when he knocked a five-litre paint tin off the ladder and coated himself, ceiling and carpet in Dulux Buttermilk.’

    Somehow I doubt you’re going to devolve into dull, grown up senescence any time soon.

  9. Casting my mind back 9 years…

    Scottish man to aussie girlfriend.

    “Lets go shopping”
    “what for”
    “Tartan emulsion”
    “Ok. If you want to”
    “HaaaHaaaaa HeeeHeeee”
    (after being told what emulsion is)
    “Very funny. Do you want me to sic the Drop Bear on you again?”

  10. What’s wrong with callling emulsion paint “emulsion”? How else do you distinguish it from gloss, satin, hammerite or enamel (none of which, I hope, you’d be putting on your plasterwork).

    It does seem like a grown-up thing to do, though. I went into a serious dither when I had to choose paint colours for our new house… but we couldn’t have put up with the magnolia or the toddler scribble from the previous people. Probably it’s different when it’s your own toddler.

  11. I’m too lazy (and why should I paint my landlord’s flat?) to decorate but I enjoy Midsomer Murders dammit – John Nettles is too cool.

    Don’t know if I’d want to live anywhere Midsomer though (actually north-west of London) – kind of like having Miss Marples or Jessica Fletcher coming to visit. A good time to top up on the life insurance policies!

    Exactly why I more worried about mythical murderers when there’s cracks in my walls and ceilings is another matter 😉

    Scott F 🙂

  12. Hi Shauna,
    Thank you for sharing another year of your life, loves and passions. It is a rare privilege to have a window into the uncertanties of another human being. Your generosity of spirit is refreshing and I have chuckled with you and at myself as a recognise my own insecurities writ large on What’s New Pussycat and Diet Girl.
    Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.
    Best wishes

  13. Exciting email arrived from Amazon yesterday announcing that DietGirl book will be here on Christmas Eve!

    Merry Christmas

    Do you call it “wallpapering” when it’s not papering then? The British word “decorating” is multipurpose as it covers both activities…

  14. PS: In want of a more appropriate place to say it – Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year – and you and Gareth’s cycling pix on your other site look soooooo cute 🙂

    Hope you get some time off up there and enjoy a proper Xmasy Xmas (it’s sometimes hard to get into the Xmas vibe in the middle of summer). If nothing else – the days are getting longer from here onwards 🙂

    Scott F
    Dateline: Foggy Old London

  15. merry xmas scott 🙂 and same to you verity and elspeth! and hope you enjoy the book too elspeth 🙂

  16. hey,
    just calling by to say..

    Happy Christmas Miss Prawna,
    enjoy the northern festive season,

    (you can’t imagine my yearning to be up that end again….one day!)

    merry pussycatting, you.


  17. But the decorating is not just painting – it’s the whole process of “tarting up” – just like putting icing on a cake and maybe a couple of trees and a snowman… if you’re my mother anyway!

    Merry Christmas, and don’t be sad about the DIYing. The grass is always greener. I long to feel old and settled enough to start diying and am having Le Crueset envy of my sister’s new pot right now… am trying to distract myself by reading blogs…!

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Ah, we’ve fairly recently graduated to getting Paul the Shetlander to do our… decorating… for us, and it’s GREAT. It so beats my husband insisting on doing it all himself and taking eight weeks over it. Want his number? (Paul’s, not my husband’s. Paul is rather handsome and also nice, efficient, fast and reliable. My husband is only some of these things.)

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