Thursday, December 08, 2005

happiness is
Do you remember those naff cartoons saying ‘love is’, featuring a cutesy girl and boy in the buff doing cutesy-cutesy things? Well, I hate to admit it, but my life is beginning to resemble those sickly-sweet cartoons. I find myself overwhelmed with joy at the most mundane things: a teaspoon, for instance.
When we lived at the Palais we kept most of our kitchen equipment boxed up in the shed, since the apartment had been supplied with crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. So, instead of using the beautiful plates we bought with our wedding money or the elegant glasses we had been given as a long-ago flat warming gift, for the last seven months we have been eating off ugly white standard-issue plates and using the cheapest, nastiest, worst designed knives and forks you can imagine. The spoons, in particular, were a source of revulsion. The bowls (what is the technical terminology for spoon anatomy?) of the spoons were larger than they should be and the neck was oddly hollow (as were the handles, which used to fill up with water when they were washed – ugh) a sort of ‘n’ shaped stem joined the bowl to the handle. All sorts of food would get into the ‘n’, but what bugged me the most was seeing my yoghurt in the back of the spoon.
Last weekend we unpacked boxes that had been in the shed since we left Badger Mansions: out came our lovingly chosen plates, our good-quality kitchen knives and the cutlery that TA had bought when we first moved in together. Well-proportioned, simple stainless steel – the teaspoons looked positively dainty in comparison to the clod-hopping nasty spoons I could never become resigned to. Happiness is eating yoghurt with a teaspoon that doesn’t get clogged up.
Last night I was so keen to get home I tried to run the whole way (but only managed a 50:50 ratio of running to walking); as a result I got home in a record-breaking (for me) 45 minutes and then promptly had to sit down to recover. TA and I pottered around the kitchen – roasting a chicken, veggies and washing spinach – while we waited for the bedroom design chap to turn up. To cut a long, dull story short we didn’t think much of the chap, he was patronising and repetitive, or his wares, which weren’t as flexible or customisable as we had hoped. We discussed the bedroom at length while eating our chicken (beautifully roasted, even if I do say so myself).
“Honestly, if we ignore practicalities and cost, my heart is set on real, solid wood,” I said. “But I’ve been looking for solid wood fitted bedrooms and it seems they don’t exist – we’d have to hire a carpenter. Can you imagine the expense?”
I popped a Brussels sprout in my mouth (beautifully cooked – slightly charred outer layer, sweet and soft interior and pleasingly salty – even if I do say so myself) and we thought about the expense of homeownership, both still shell-shocked at the revelation that a merely adequate fitted bedroom could cost £3.5k.
TA and I discussed what we wanted in the bedroom – the importance of ensuring that the end result looks city-type sleek (we plan to rent the flat in a few years’ time), the need to maximise storage space, the fact that spend has to increase rental value (which is different than increasing sale value). TA and I discussed his bed – had he enjoyed building it, how long did it take to complete, what tools did it need, how much did the wood cost? And slowly, but inexorably, the conversation began to sidle up to considering a whole new level of DIY.
TA’s first step will be to create a 3D model of each room so that we can try out different design ideas, colours and so forth. Once that is done – hopefully before the New Year – we can begin planning our bedroom in earnest. And then the carpentry, and the fun, will begin!

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