Monday, 22 September 2008

A salutary tale ...

... of how if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Back in spring, our local M. Bricolage (DIY warehouse - Grillou's second home) was running a promo on seagrass carpeting - 5.99€ a metre length. Now we've got some upstairs in our little TV / music salon, and apart from being an absolute pig to haul up our twisty stairs (mutual murder was a distinct possibility for a while) and then cut, it went down well enough and looks great. So, brilliant, we thought - just the thing to cover up the white tiles in the lower half of our salon proper that make it look like a public toilet. We bought some, along with several rolls of cork insulation and some Neoprene glue to hold it all down. The statutory week to let it settle, a few more blisters, et voilà ... down, fitted and looking good. Oh, we thought we'd been so seriously clever...

A few weeks ago, it grew a beard, overnight. A green beard. My favourite French brico forums were consulted; it was pronounced to be a form of mildew; not, apparently, uncommon. No big deal - a squirt of dilute bleach, a rub down with a brush and then a hoover should deal with it. And so it did.

A week or so after that, I noticed a strange smell in the room. Our carpet, though still clean shaven, was reeking - not the normal seagrassy smell, which is quite pleasant. No, this was something else again. A squirt of slightly less dilute bleach, a rub down with a brush and a hoover, and it was gone. Except it wasn't. It came back again. Now the salon smelt like a public toilet instead of looking like one. Out came the bleach bottle again, etcetera.

Now I don't like being defeated. I like going forwards, not backwards. So I tried the old bicarb trick. Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over smelly carpet, leave it for 48 hours, hoover and end of smell. In mitigation, I do have to say that it always worked for the smell of wet dog. It didn't, however, work for smelly seagrass.

Please read the next sentence carefully, because you may never read it again. I was defeated. I gave up. Beaten by a bit of fibre. One of my 'virtual' forum pals reckoned that it was always going to happen, because the seagrass had almost certainly been incorrectly dried and stored and was reacting with its latex backing (the words 'Greeks' and' gifts' spring to mind somewhere ...). So, yesterday, John - not me; there is a limit to my acceptance of defeat, as there is to my ability to tolerate destruction - cut it up and threw it out. It's currently acting as a ground cover mulch on a new bed in the potager, but the smell is now so strong that I fear it's taking over the village, 3km away, and tomorrow it's going to have to go to the déchetterie. In spite of the fact that its presence there will not further endear us to the rather fierce déchetterie attendant, who already has us marked down as beyond the pale because we omitted to sweep up after ourselves on our first visit.

And today we spent many hours trying to remove the Neoprene glue from the tiles, because yes, the glue smells too. Have you ever tried to remove Neoprene glue from tiles? No, I thought not. I expect we'll be doing the same tomorrow. And the day after.

Oh how we laughed.

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