So Long, Soft Walls

I was chatting with my mum on the phone earlier and she told me my gran had had an offer on her house. She moved in with my parents at the start of August and has settled in well so she’s decided to sell up.

My mum and I talked about my gran’s house – how immaculately she kept it, and its décor. The two things suddenly reminded me of a daily battle I’d had as a child.

When my gran moved in to her house she had the whole place decked out with white embossed wallpaper. I’d never seen anything like it in my life. The pattern didn’t just stick out from the wall – it was made from a strange soft foam so it was squidgy to the touch. And touch is what it demanded – my sister described it as like living inside a giant sensory toy. I couldn’t look at any wall without having a strong compulsion to poke it and play with it.

My gran’s a very kind and loving person but she was very strict about anyone touching the walls and seemed to have some sort of telepathic connection with them which meant she knew instantly when my hands were anywhere near them.

For much of my childhood and adolescence I had a daily battle between my urge to touch the wallpaper and my desire not to upset my gran. But even as an adult I couldn’t pass a wall in her house without giving it a little poke.

In some respects I’m sad this 27-year battle is now over. Don’t tell my gran, but I don’t imagine whoever buys the house will keep the wallpaper.

So long, soft walls.


2 responses to So Long, Soft Walls

  1. Dan says:

    Ooh I had that first one in my childhood bedroom, next to the bed. Visually reminiscent of cottage cheese, but (unlike cottage cheese) very unpleasant against the skin. I used to pick off the chunks, which were little wood chips, possibly in the hope of eventually making it smooth.

  2. QuantumPhil says:

    Dan, that resonates with me; I had wood chip paper in my room which I used to pick. These days it’s my skin that I try to make smooth, which is not so good – it tends to be more when I’m stressed. I also used to struggle not to draw lines in the soft wallpaper my siblings had with my fingernails – the urge was always there, but I knew it was permanent.

    I thought it was just me!

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