So my colleague is sitting in her house, I’m in mine. We are both in our home offices trying to work. We’re on the phone. We both have loud drilling coming at us from an outside wall.
Her builders are harmonising – very poorly – to some Elvis, we think, mine are just shouting to each other.
She and I are now shouting at each other down the phone and moving from room to room … and eventually outside to talk strategy for a shared client.
I run my hand through my hair as I walk and talk. I take a moment to disentangle my hand from my hair and realise my hair has stayed exactly where I pushed it. I look in the mirror in the conservatory. I have matching Wolverine ‘wings’ of hair framing my angry face. Brick dust – the ultimate volume and hold product apparently.
Her bed, she tells me, is wrapped in some sort of cling film and this has to be unwrapped every night for her and her husband to get in. The family labradoodle (who’s bed is also shrink-wrapped) is prematurely grey with plaster and won’t leave the sanctity of her mistresses’ slippered feet under the desk.
Another big honking blast of ‘burning love’ and we bring our high-level strategy conf call to a close.
As I disconnect JF hoves to, builders’ boots on, funny hat, big red pencil behind his ear. His opening line: “I’ve had a brilliant idea.”
The frown I’m sporting deepens as I prepare myself for another eye-opener on practical housebuilding.
Thing is, I don’t want a practical house, I want a beautiful house, a radiant house, one I can smooth and caress and slide along the surfaces of. One I can dress up, accent and ‘colour pop’ – one I can hermetically seal from ingress by cement, old render and some sort of – WHAT IS THAT SMELL – I think sump oil??
My very clever husband isn’t put off, he plunges on:
“Why don’t I make a heated towel rail for the new en suite out of plumbing scrap. It will look really steam-punk? I’ll include the old fashioned valves on the end of the brass pipe and I’ll bend the pipe to suit. What do you think?” he asks, beaming.
I do the eyebrow thing.
“And it would be more practical to have a washing machine in the bathroom upstairs,” he says.
Muttering joins the eyebrow thing. He opens his mouth again and I cut in.
“No, No to everything, Not any of that, No.”
I pipe up again.
“If we have to live in the extension while we do the rest of the house I don’t want it practical or easy, I want it irritating as F*** and twice as inconvenient. So inconvenient you don’t get comfortable in a microclimate that you crag rats (mountaineers), hobos and hibernating bears feel right at home in. I want the house finished while the bitter beige anorak, first-hand issues of People’s Fiend (sic), Wednesday morning shampoo and set and the Honda Jazz years are still just a darkly brooding presence beyond the horizon.
“I understand you have to make the kitchen cabinets out of Marine Ply (in case we have to sail around the world in them), I know you want to do everything properly and you are totally brilliant, and I know that the toddler tantrum I’m having right now is inappropriate for a woman of my age – but.”
I have no more, there is nothing. I flounce off to locate a copy of Homes and Gardens for later – fully intending to add to my consolation stash of pointless scatter cushions.