Carpet Fitting & Little Old Women

For many years I have been of the opinion that little old ladies should avoid fitting carpets by themselves. The events of last weekend have done nothing to change my mind!

You may be aware that the recent generation of carpet fitters (and probably with some directive from Heath & Safety) now require a room to be cleared before attempting to do their job. As my few rooms are cluttered with pieces of furniture (Mother’s included) all serving an essential purpose – even if they are only housing more clutter, the possibility of clearing a room is none existent. So, as usual, I had to tackle the job by myself. The room in question being my bedroom, which, apart from two large chests of drawers, two bedside cabinets and various visible bits and pieces, also (not remarkably) houses a bed – which has a metal frame (and therefore is not in two parts like a divan), under which is a fold-up bed, a large keyboard, a coffee table with three drawers (full), two large plastic containers for books and stuff, three small attaché cases (full), box file (full), large cardboard box (full), bags of shoes and sketch books – a job a carpet fitter would have run a mile from!

This daunting task I’ve been putting off in the hope I could live without it, but having had two estate agents around last week to value the property, I didn’t feel I could invite would-be buyers into my bedroom to see the hole in the carpet acquired when having a new radiator fitted – and the burn mark in the perfect shape of an iron!

Having tried to lift each filled drawer out of the old chest I found them too heavy so had to empty them and carry them through to Mum’s room. Then manoeuvre the chest through to her room, replace the drawers and refill them. The high chest is thankfully on castors and after removing a couple of the drawers I was able to wheel it into the bathroom with lots of pushing, dragging and shoving. The fold-up bed I wheeled out onto the landing. All free standing bits went into the office/bedroom and likewise everything from under the bed except the heavily laden coffee table/drawers.

Having removed the drawers of the bedside cabinets they were easy enough to move, but with great difficulty I then tackled the bed, taking every precaution of bent knees, taking the weight on my legs, arms and shoulders and being very much aware of my weak back. I managed to get the bed to one side of the room to lift the carpet and was dismayed to find large gaps under the skirting. In a panic at first, thinking the floor of this 18th century cottage was falling away. I was relieved to remember that it had always been like that, as in fact the carpet and hardboard covering the floorboards were filling the gap. Also Paul had stuffed paper under the gap adjoining next door when there was a smoker living there and the smoke used to drift into our room. Feeling relief that I wasn’t about to fall to the lower level I then decided I should do something about the gap and went off to buy some appropriate materials.

It was the first time I have used expanding foam and so I was not very adept. At first I though it was going swimmingly as I heard the foam puffing out and travelling inside the gap, but then it began to metamorphosise, the green puffy slime oozing out from under the skirting like an alien creature. ‘Get back, get back!’ I cried, trying to stem its flow with my rubber-gloved hand, but it was like candy floss, all sticky and it stuck to the glove or whatever tool I used and was quite uncontrollable. I had read on the tin that it could be cut when cured, but then also ‘cured foam can only be removed mechanically’ (so what did that mean?). By this time the instructions were all covered by the foamy mess, so I just crossed my sticky fingers and hoped I could catch it at the right time to trim.

Moving on around the room I discovered that the hardboard pieces over the floorboards were slightly overlaying each other in a few places and so to prevent an uneven surface for my new carpet I decided to trim them to size. Whist they were up I filled the gaps under the skirting in that area. Good job! Unfortunately it was then that I realised that would mean that the hardboard was now too big at the outer edges as yes, you’ve remembered, the sheets had previously been under the skirting filling the gap! Talk about making myself more work! Ah well, might as well paint the walls while the furniture is giving access, so a further delay.

All this work had been started on Friday afternoon and it was then 2.30pm on Sunday. Just time to go and get the carpet, as I couldn’t buy it earlier with no place to put it. Fortunately I had already decided on one, so in the grand scheme of things it was a fairly easy task.

The carpet was 13ft 1ins x 10ft 10ins – except the guy had been very generous and giving me several inches extra on the 10ft 10. Very kind, but I had measured the room very carefully and already given myself a couple of inches spare to accommodate the room being misshapen. So the extra four inches or so made it rather more difficult to manage. Again, mindful of my weak back, I managed to lay one half of the room and heave the bed over the remaining carpet to the finished side to allow me to fit the remainder. The whole effort has certainly tightened up my bingo wings!

By Tuesday morning I had just about got everything back into place and so the room is looking much better. However, lying in bed last night I realised to have made a tidier job of the skirting I should have taken it off and lowered it!!!


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Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

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