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A Short Story by June Necchi

VIctorian Bathroom

I’m trying to find adjectives to describe my friend, Jane. Much can be written about her but what I call ‘the Jane bathroom experience ‘certainly left a lasting impression.

My bathroom in an Edwardian house had for years needed its decor updating and it was to this end that I spent a whole year researching washable wallpaper of that era. The wallpaper I finally chose for the ‘facelift’, was of a subdued blue/ green patterned with an Edwardian design. I was I admit over the moon to have achieved what I thought was the near impossible. I retiled the bath/ shower wall, sandpapered the door and window back to a beautiful light original pine. And then the wallpaper. I could hardly believe the transformation to the tired mock modern bathroom!

And then the obscure glazed top panels of the door which I hand painted in appropriate Edwardian designs. I took great delight in showing the results to my friends and family.

It may have been just a few weeks later that I was due to take a holiday abroad for a week and since my friend Jane had come through a very difficult emotional period, I agreed that she could stay in my home. She had often stayed in the past which had seemed to be therapeutic for her, so I was happy to give her the opportunity. She would be in my house on her own, but she was very resourceful and would find things to do.

Walking into my kitchen on returning from my holiday both Jane and my niece were waiting. “Let’s have a cup of tea, then”, I said. My niece stopped me saying, “I think you had better go up to your bathroom first”. I was intrigued so hastily ran up the stairs. I was in total disbelief when I saw the bathroom. My carefully chosen wallpaper had been stripped and replaced with the most garish pattern and colours. The wood which I had lovingly restored to its original state on the window and door had been painted in a shocking deep blue. The glass decoration had been replaced with ugly painted shapes. My Edwardian bathroom had completely vanished under this grotesque redecoration. Retrieving scraps of my chosen wallpaper I went back to the kitchen and was speechless. “Well,” said Jane, “do you like it?” I struggled to respond but with an air of surrender replied, “It’s all too late. There’s no going back “.

A month later I’d removed all traces of Jane’s handiwork, painted the walls, and with a fine brush added the effects of marbling. There must be a motto here. Never let a good friend loose in your house in your absence unless you pin warning notices everywhere!

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Editor: Julie Smith

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