Spot the fatal flaw in this argument:
Husband: “but it’s a lovely house, or at least it will look lovely when we have redecorated.”
Me: “It’s decorated entirely in blown vinyl, the kitchen is a disaster and the carpets make me feel sea-sick. I’m not sure I can live with it even for a few months, and it’s going to take at least a year to get it all redecorated.”
Husband: “But it has such potential….It’s just so old and lovely….”
Me: “Ok, you win….”
The previous owners had
fucked it up with the most horrendous make-over you have ever seen renovated the house to their own taste, which was most definitely not mine. (Nor anyone else’s it seems, as they had to drastically drop the price to secure a sale.)
That was five years ago, and we are less than half-way through redecorating…
He was right, of course. It is a beautiful, old, creaky house with character that oozes from each nook and cranny. It is 230 years old and it’s huge oak beams and stone inglenook make me feel comfortably small. When it was built in 1776 it would have been a farmhouse, and still has the stone safe built into the wall in the kitchen where the farmer would’ve stored the farmhands’ wages. I love my house, despite the fact that the past 230 years have seen the village grow around it until it is no longer a farmhouse but a cottage sitting aside a very busy trunk road with lorries trundling past at all times of day and night. It doesn’t even have a garden. Looking out of my kitchen window now I can see only traffic and houses. Lunchtimes see school children sitting on my windowsill, watching the traffic and eating their chips whilst they flirt and banter with each other. Which, of course, is how come we could afford to buy it. Pick it up and transport it 15 miles into the Yorkshire National Park, and we couldn’t even have afforded to buy the disaster of a kitchen, let alone the house itself. But I love it, nonetheless.
We have rid the living room of it’s various patterns of blown-vinyl, the previous occupants having clearly disagreed in their choice of which particular pattern of blown vinyl to use, and so used them all on different walls and ceiling. The swirly orange carpet has been replaced by something altogether more quiet, but the kitchen and bathroom still look like they were decorated by someone’s aunty Mabel. At least I can sit quietly in my living room and enjoy its peace….
And then, this weekend, we had a small flood. All over the lovely living room carpet. The freezer ‘somehow’ defrosted (ie we inadvertently unplugged it) and, given that it is housed in the under stairs cupboard, water trickled all night through the cupboard and into my lovely living room.
We were both sanguine about it. These things happen. Nobody has died. The carpet will come clean. In the general scheme of things…. etc etc.
But then The Husband stepped gingerly into the kitchen carrying a large box. He said simply “I’m sorry…”.
I looked at the box. My collection of LPs (remember them?) which had also been stored in the under stairs cupboard – behind the offending freezer – waiting for the time when we win the lottery and buy a bigger house and they can come out of hiding. The water had trickled through my entire vinyl collection, on its way to the carpet. Twelve years of musical memories held in a couple of boxes, all completely ruined. To be fair, the records were probably unplayable anyway. They have been stored in boxes for too many years, carted from house to house, waiting for the time when there was a space for them to be shelved again. But I had hope that one day I would dance to them again…
So many memories: every Jam album; every XTC album up until 1989; The Clash; The Teardrop Explodes; Red Lorry Yellow Lorry; Pop Will Eat Itself; Iggy Pop; The Velvet Underground; The Slits; The Undertones; The Cure; The Dead Kennedys; Talking Heads; Television; Shriekback (remember them?); my entire Tom Waits collection (about 8 albums); idiosyncrasies like Dr Feelgood and Rickie Lee Jones; Joy Division; loads of blues classics and even a Crass album.
I was such a muso from about 12 onwards. I would try to impress my much older brother with my new purchases. I remember playing him All Mod Cons in 1978 when he came home from university, and bursting with pride that I had introduced him to something he later grew to love. I was 12. When all my friends were listening to Grease, I was reading the NME and listening to XTC (before they went poppy, of course.) At 16 I used to sit with my history teacher in the common room at lunch time and we would finish the NME crossword together. I quite fancied him. He was in the SWP and listened to punk.
“I think they have to go” said The Husband. “The sleeves are all ruined”.
He took them out into the courtyard and smashed them one by one, and tore up the lovely sleeves for the recycling box.
I stood in the kitchen making guacamole and cried a bucket.
Sister #1 came for tea. We had a very morose evening. I think it might have been the guacamole.