So, here's the story of my kitchen wall. No! Do not click on to another more interesting blog, stay with me and listen to the story as it was told in the days of old. You may want to get yourself another coffee at this point. In some ways the story of the kitchen wall is a story of romance and folly, a story of family, loyalty and growing maturity. In other ways it is just a story about a woman who paints her kitchen wall. I'll let you decide.
So it all starts twelve years ago when we first move into our house. We strip the wallpaper off the kitchen wall, remove the dado, line the walls with lining paper and paint them cream. Oh, but the folly of youth will out - we decide that we cannot bear (yes, gentle reader, cannot bear) the look of normal kitchen paint with its practical wipeable sheen. Normal kitchen paint is too Daily Mail, Fosse Park at the weekend and Early Bird and the Harvester. The general consensus between myself and the DH is that if we cannot paint our kitchen in ultra matte, chalky, Farrow and Ball then we might as well never bothered getting a degree, buying the Guardian and reading books about the Fabian Society.
So we slap the Farrow and Ball on the kitchen wall, then we slap it on again, then once more because it doesn't cover very well and stand back and admire our work...and we are very careful with the kitchen, very neat and tidy, for all of say ten whole days. Then things start to get bad. The DH has a terrible habit of not looking at the bin when he's getting ridding of the scraps before he does his nightly stint of washing up and soon there are splatters of gravy and tea on the cream Farrow and Ball framing the bin like a Jackson Pollock or an IRA dirty protest. But never fear - I get out the remains of the paint and go over the splatters with a spot of paint ... on a weekly basis for...eleven years. However eventually the DIY shop in my town closes down and I don't think the accursed Farrow and Ball do the colour of my paint any more and the kitchen wall gets dirtier and dirtier until I am thoroughly ashamed.
My mother begins to question me about the kitchen wall - why is it so dirty? Why can't the DH manage to get anything in the bin? Why haven't I cleaned the kitchen wall? And then, when I'm ill in bed, she decides to clean it for me and sprays the whole wall with kitchen cleaner which simply gets absorbed into the uber middle class chalky finish, leaving little permanent spray splatters to join the chicken fat, gravy and jam already adorning my kitchen. My mum is furious, "why didn't you paint your kitchen in kitchen paint? Are you a mental person? I thought I'd brought you up better than that! Why has it been so clean all these years if the paint isn't wipeable?"
I explain to her gently that I've been quietly painting over the DH's splatters for eleven years, but now I've run out of paint. I think she is going to kill me but instead she just calls me a "bloody fool" and I agree with her.
So out I go and purchase a large tin of cream kitchen paint from Homebase. I paint the whole of the kitchen on a Monday when the DH is at work and the kids are at school and nobody notices my handy work, except my mother. She comes in all smiles and we sit at the kitchen table and have a coffee. She is very pleased with me and I am very pleased because I have pleased my mummy. I then say to her, "you know, I'm thinking of painting a motto or quotation on the wall - like they did in gastropubs ten years ago." She thinks this is a splendid idea and looks over to the line of bookshelves on the other kitchen wall and says I should find something from Shakespeare and I say that I shall think about it.
Later on that evening I confess to the family that I have painted the kitchen. They all troop in and say, "ooh, yes, I can tell now - it looks cleaner," and, again, I am very pleased. I then say that I want to paint a motto on the wall like they did in gastropubs ten years ago. The conversation goes thus:
Me: I want to paint a motto on the kitchen wall, like they did in gastropubs ten years ago.
DH: Like what?
Me: Some Americans put quotations from the Bible on their walls.
DH: Like a Victorian Methodist Sunday School?
Me: That wasn't what I had in mind. Do you have any suggestions?
DH: How about "Strength Through Joy" or, "Two Legs Good, Four Legs Bad"?
Big Girl: I know, "Kinder, Kuche, Kirke."
Me: Although I think that "Kinder, Kuche, Kirke" may be scarily apt, I don't think Nazi slogans will create the appropriate warm and convivial atmosphere I require in my kitchen diner.
So I make a unilateral decision and paint a C.S. Lewis quotation on the wall.
The little one is thrilled and as soon as I'm finished grabs the family copy of Narnia and orders me to take a photo of her underneath the quote. She makes her big sister do the same with Mere Christianity. It is not until I download the photos of the kids onto my laptop that I realise I have painted the quotation slightly on the wonk. Somehow this represents the story of my family life, so I leave it as it is and smile.