KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
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.