KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
The shelves are wrong. This was supposed to be the It- IsAccomplished, All-Lived-HappilyEver-After column. This was to be the one in which I looked around our beautiful new kitchen and reflected that the upheaval of the past three — three! — months had all been worthwhile. Instead, from my vantage point at the kitchen table, I am reflecting on: two plugboards, awaiting further and unacceptably loud tools, a small collection of rubble under the new units, a pile of breeze blocks out on the new patio and, just my behind my left shoulder, the wrong shelves.
In fairness to the wrong shelves, they are quite beautiful. And had we themed our kitchen on a weird, khaki sort of military look, they would be perfect. But our kitchen is graphite (apparently, that’s now a colour) and white, and short of redesignating the corner of the room as a sort of ad hoc war memorial, there is no place for the wrong shelves. So now, as well as ordering a new radiator to replace the, er, new radiator, and getting The Man out to fix the, er, new fridge, we are expecting new shelves too. In January. When I remarked, months ago, that I would be cooking Christmas dinner for the builders, I was joking. Now, I’m checking whether they prefer the white or brown meat.
All of this, needless to say, has put something of a strain on the domestic front. The other day, I noticed what appeared to be the neck of a guitar sticking out of the unfinished manhole on the patio. ‘That’s Ray’s guitar project,’ The Husband explained when I enquired. ‘I’m helping him with it.’ Ray, I presume I don’t need to point out, is not one of our children. So The Husband has developed Stockholm Syndrome. I, holed up in our tiny home office helping one of our natural-born children with their project on Colorado, simply haven’t had the time.
At least the painter has finished, which means that I am no longer sleeping in the hearth. Did I mention that dark night, when I came home from MCing a charity thing, feeling full of goodness and mucus, and had to spend the night shivering on a mattress on the livingroom floor while the wind whistled down the chimney beside me and turned my slight head
I once joked I’d be cooking Christmas
dinner for the builders. Now I’m checking whether they prefer white or brown meat
cold into a full-blown ’flu? Oh yes, that was the longest night.
Surprisingly, the only respite from all this has come from Christmas shopping. I’m not normally a fan of shopping — least of all in its festive form — but having a legitimate excuse for staying away from the house has been a balm to my rubbled soul. I even went to Dundrum on my own, for the first time ever. I know that probably sounds astonishing, given that Ireland’s largest shopping emporium has been half an hour away from my house for nigh on 10 years now, but I spent its first few years engaged in an active boycott of the place that only ended when I realised that its owners couldn’t give a thundering monkey whether I ever darkened its doors and when my kids started, not unreasonably, asking to go to the cinema occasionally.
Still, I’d never been there alone in shopping mode before. Given what was going on at home, I have to concede it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I’d expected. Of course, Hollister — the only shop in the world that manages to make me feel simultaneously old, ugly and blind — was horrible, and if I do ever brighten its doors again, I will need to bring a torch. And it was in Hollister, appropriately enough, that The Husband phoned to break the news about the wrong shelves. When I finally got to the till, the impossibly good-looking assistant enquired, in spite of being Irish, how my day was going. By way of response I considered crying, especially since nobody could see my tears.
I came home to find the architect staring silently at the wrong shelves. Even he can’t quite believe how long all this is taking. I did think for a moment he, too, might be crying, but since my eyes were still adjusting to normal light, I can’t be sure. ‘Well,’ he finally said, ‘you’ve just got yourselves some incredibly expensive shelves for your shed.’ The Husband, presumably dreaming of playing duelling banjos with Ray, didn’t seem too put out by this. But I have been in our shed recently and I know for a fact that the wrong shelves won’t fit. Which means we’ll have to get a new shed. After all, we might as well be hung for a whole flock now.