retrospect, the painter was a mistake. Not the man himself, obviously — he seems like a perfectly respectable individual, even if he does use the toilet a little more than I might ideally like (I have become unexpectedly consumed, Howard Hughes-style, by strangers using our toilet) — but the timing was all wrong.
He was supposed to rock up a fortnight after the builders left, see, which would have given all of us some respite from disruption and dust and might have once again allowed us all to swear and fart in our own home with the candour to which we have become accustomed. And because this is Ireland, I had factored in a two-week over-run on the kitchen renovation even before I roped off the fortnight of f-ing and farting. But builders, I now understand, are not subject to the same laws of time as the rest of us, and so last week, we found ourselves in the happy situation of having a painter upstairs, with all three of the children’s bedrooms sheathed in plastic and officially out of bounds, while the builders worked their way through the snag list in the new and oh-so-nearly finished kitchen, also rendering it out of bounds.
Throw in a sick Boy, his full six-foot frame draped the full length of the sofa in the only remaining habitable room, his hand — his only working part, apparently — ever hovering over the Playstation control while he swore languidly at his players on FIFA 13 (only The Boy has failed to moderate his language in the presence of our dusty invaders), and a hilariously timed delivery from IKEA (of which, more anon) and you may begin to appreciate why I have gone mad. The other day, I went into town for literally nothing, just to avoid my family and my home. That is how bad it has become.
But back to the snag list. Oh yes, the architect and his henchman loved The Husband back in those honeymoon days. ‘Mr Detail,’ they called him admiringly, as they enthused at his interest in the minutiae of creating a new kitchen. I, meanwhile, pretty much lost interest in the whole thing after we’d chosen the colour — to the point that every stage of the project has more or less come as a complete surprise to me. The Husband, though, has had his finger on the pulse, and then some. One evening, he brought me into the then building site and indicated a centimetre-wide strip of chrome that was topping the tiled kitchen skirting and asked what I thought of it in much the same loaded way as I sometimes, for my own idle amusement, ask him what he thinks of whatever I’m wearing.
‘It’s fine,’ I ventured, though in my heart of hearts I suspected it wasn’t fine at all. ‘It’s shiny chrome,’ he raged. ‘We asked for brushed
chrome.’ It is a centimetre wide. That is my world and you are welcome to it.
Anyway, the net result of all this is that, at the business end of the project, we now have a snag list so detailed, Leonardo da Vinci would have been proud of it. The builders, inevitably, are somewhat less thrilled by it, and my own — ‘Is it the right way up? Well, then it’s grand’ — approach to kitchen building (which they’d previously dismissed as pure rudeness) is now by far their preferred model. If you think that shift in the pecking order gives me any pleasure, though, you are very much mistaken: I stopped taking pleasure in this process around the time the first skip thudded onto our driveway and into our lives.
As to Ikea, I realise now that I have been a shade unfair in my previous comments about the Swedish behemoth. When Ikea first threatened our shores, I wrote some crusading articles about how awful the British Ikea experience is, which I was then happy to correct when I found shopping in the Dublin branch surprisingly stress-free. I realise now that the amount of Sudafed in our home back then may have made me technically high. We bought a sofa there the other day, which they genuinely expected us to load onto two trolleys, bring home in our car and assemble ourselves. We were partially successful at only one of those challenges, so we now have a sofa (and six kitchen chairs) in eight enormous boxes in a tiny room with a mattress on the floor and an eejit on the couch.
An eejit who, incidentally, wants to know when we’re getting our Christmas tree. My God, I am in hell.