The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

Right now, our kitchen win­dow is so dirty that I can’t tell whether or not it’s rain­ing by look­ing through it. You might think I could try look­ing down at the pa­tio out­side the win­dow to see if it’s wet, but the down pipe that leads from the sink to the out­side drain has been bro­ken for some time now, so the pa­tio is per­pet­u­ally wet. And do you know what? I couldn’t care less.

You should see the press I keep the cook­ing oils in. One of them spilt, just a lit­tle bit, a cou­ple of weeks back, and now the whole in­side of the press is like a sort of trea­cly ice-rink.

I don’t know whether the two events are linked, but I’ve just no­ticed that the kicker board of that par­tic­u­lar press has turned a pe­cu­liar shade of grey. I think it was once alder, but I can’t be sure now.

The floor was def­i­nitely beech. I’ll never for­get that. I’ll never for­get run­ning my hands over the beau­ti­ful boards in the show­room, and hav­ing a long and se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion with The Hus­band about whether we could af­ford a solid wood floor, and whether it would with­stand the wear and tear of three small peo­ple who, back then, had a predilec­tion for rid­ing their tri­cy­cles around the kitchen ta­ble.

In the end, we de­cided it was an in­vest­ment — and it re­mained one, right up un­til the point when the fit­ters ar­rived with their enor­mous ghetto blaster and pre­cious lit­tle else.

I can still re­call the feel­ing of ut­ter help­less­ness and de­spair when I walked into our newly floored kitchen and saw just how much of a hames they’d made of lay­ing the boards. ‘That’ll last you 20 years,’ one of the fit­ters said cheer­fully, as they un­plugged their chal­leng­ing ur­ban sounds. Right then, it sounded more like a threat than a prom­ise.

In the end, we got the floor re-fit­ted, but it was never right. And right now, it needs sand­ing so badly that there are whole sec­tions of it that look as though some­body’s played a drunken game of noughts and crosses on it. And there’s a chunk gone out of the door sad­dle — I’ve no idea, but I’m guess­ing The Boy — that def­i­nitely should be re­placed.

‘They should en­cour­age you to

spill a bit of oil in your press, just so you can en­joy the lib­er­at­ing feel­ing of not clean­ing it up’

They re­ally should tell you about this part of the process. When you pay your book­ing de­posit and put your sig­na­ture to the ar­chi­tect’s draw­ings, they should ad­vise you that for the next few weeks, you will ex­pe­ri­ence a won­der­ful sense of not giv­ing a rat’s pos­te­rior about the de­plorable state of your sur­round­ings. In­stead of is­su­ing gloomy warn­ings about how dif­fi­cult it’s go­ing to be to live without a kitchen for four weeks, they should point out that start­ing from now, you can ease up on the clean­ing a bit. They should en­cour­age you to spill a bit of oil in your press, just so you can en­joy the won­der­ful, lib­er­at­ing feel­ing of not both­er­ing to clean it up.

And while I am mildly dis­gusted by the shower of dirty wa­ter that hits the pa­tio ev­ery time I use the sink, the ab­so­lute knowl­edge that the pa­tio is about to dis­ap­pear for­ever un­der a pile of fresh con­crete al­lows me to live quite eas­ily with my shame.

I am not without some nos­tal­gia for the old place, though. For the past 12 years, I have spent al­most all my wak­ing hours in this room, which was two rooms when we first got here but has been, since the week af­ter we moved in, a big room that was ini­tially half kitchen, half play­room, but that grad­u­ally be­came a kitchen/ liv­ing room thingy. I cook here, I eat here, I clean here (al­beit not so much, at the mo­ment), I write here, I read here, I help with home­work here, I iron here, and in the evenings, I flop down on a very bat­tered sofa here and watch tele­vi­sion on a set that is so old it’s al­most kitsch (al­most, but not quite). I have loved this room so much I have ac­tu­ally worn it out.

And so, next week, I will close the door on the room in which I brought up my chil­dren and move, for the next four weeks, into the much smaller front room with the much big­ger tele­vi­sion. Just the one tele­vi­sion. And the five of us. And the dog. And the fridge. And no cooker.

The ar­chi­tect prom­ises that the new kitchen will look amaz­ing, and he doesn’t make it sound like a threat at all.

In the un­likely event that any of us sur­vive to see it, I’ll let you know.

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