I believe a home is one of our few chances to break away from the spirals of genes that tie us firmly to our love handles, clumsiness, baldness, twitches or whatever else we may have inherited when we were too young to put our foot down. It's also our chance to liberate ourselves from the conventions of the past and a society we spent our teenage years pitying.
So. Call it ego, or compensation for not being a rebel when I legitimately could have carried it off, but I don’t want anything in my apartment to be conventional and off the shelf. As a result, most of the furniture in my apartment is in my head.
Last week, I decided to change status quo. I met a highly recommended carpenter and sketched him a cubist conch shell that was to be my music rack. He looked at my drawing with pity in his eyes and helpfully offered me his fevicol catalogue.
Rather than explaining the thing about mass market personalities, I suggested we start with a bookcase instead. Easy enough. Take out a window that gives me an uninterrupted view of the neighbour’s underwired collection, and put in glass shelves. I described the effect – it should look as though a square in the wall has been built with books instead of bricks.
He took measurements, offered to put in sliding doors for a nominal extra charge and promised to return in three days with the showcase.
Not showcase, bookcase, I laughed nervously, gulping to push back images of crystal curiosities and fabric flowers that rose up instantly. The carpenter didn’t notice, he was busy tucking my advance into a fevicol catalogue.
Three days later, I became the proud owner of what can only be described as the S word. The sliding doors I had eagerly agreed to complete the effect. Even with books in it, but it’s still a… I’m not strong enough to say the word yet.
When a friend suggested that I should just cover the borders to make it look less showcasish (she smirked as she pronounced the word), my mind raced to beaded macramé and DIY stencils.
And I knew I’d lost the battle.
Never again will I tell funny stories about a generation that spent most of their time abroad in bargain basements, to feed the big S at home. Or about dolls that spent their lives behind sliding doors, safely out of the reach of children they belonged to.
Never again will I look superior when people ask me if I have a ration card. Or turn the other way when I pass a Swarovski store or a velvet wall hanging featuring a pride of lions.
How can I? I’m one of THEM now.