So, nearly three weeks ago, Kathy and Ian, the project-managers-slash-embarrassed parents at the heart of this whole sorry business, started moving stuff around.It might feel a little early for me to be digressing from the main story but if you are going to fit a new kitchen, all the stuff from the old kitchen has to go somewhere.
As it happens, our flat doesn't have a massive lumber room, and all the other rooms are full of stuff (books, primarily. Here are a couple of pictures of secondary book deposits from the little-visited but fertile upper reaches of the flat. Piling books on the floor is good, but the bookcase in the second picture is a tardis-like titan of book-management - it holds hundreds, and is one of the greatest purchases my mother has ever made:
Anyway, the lounge, which was designated as the primary interim storage area, had already started to take on some of the characteristics of the old kitchen, in terms of being a place for keeping spare hampers. After the first stage of the transition, this is one view of the lounge, with temporary kitchenette features:
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London. I mean some of the details. First, witness the much maligned television. In addition, this picture features a weird blue iPod speaker system that doesn't really work and evidence of a cabinet which, if you touch the television, lists by anything up to 20 degrees. Probably we should get a new cabinet, but the one we have is so entangled with all the wires that feed the entertainment boxes that neither of has ever felt up to it.
(Some scientists have suggested the cabinet only remains intact because of the tension produced by these wires. So there is probably a good reason for not interfering. As previously stated, the television works, so what is to be gained by fiddling?)
This next picture is a literal cornucopia, if you don't know what that word means. First, there is a background picture given to me by my father - it was a photo he took in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, of a funeral home, whose slogan is The Last Ones to Let You Down. Then there is an old collection of false moustaches I got from my brother. And, in the bottom foreground a tupperware brought by Kathy and Ian. In it are some oats, an apple, an orange a lemon and two things that look like turds but definitely weren't because I ate the apple and I'd have noticed.
This final view is like a puzzle. In it, can you find:
- some lager
- some jam
- a mug stand with a pig (will this mug stand survive the great regeneration? This is still an ongoing question)
- a weird aromatherapeutic candle neither of us want that smells of avocado and basil or two such similarly unlikely candlefellows*
- some honey made by Britain's most eminent literary critic
But there was more to the lounge-kitchenette than just that one side. For instance:
The presence of fridge, kettle and toaster, combined with our legendary capacity for getting by, made some visitors worry that we would adapt entirely to the new system and never go back into the kitchen. This fear was most marked in those who had watched us during the three years that the heating element on one side of an earlier toaster had failed because of a stray raisin, and we had meant to replace it but had actually settled quite easily into toasting every piece of bread twice.
This has proved an absurd fear. I cannot say what might have happened if there had been a tap in the lounge.
The picture also includes a footstool in the shape of a sheep which I was given for directing a pantomime in the mid-nineties.
Finally on the lounge front, for now, is this picture of the curtains. Of all the things in the house, this is the one that Kathy has campaigned against with the greatest futile vigour. She hates the curtains. My housemate says that the curtain rail is fighting a losing battle with gravity, and he thinks the battle has entered its final stages, but I don't. There has been no discernible alteration in curtain-integrity since 2001. Yes, functionality fans, the curtain works.
Ok, ok. What of the kitchen? I will get onto that in part 3, probably later today, but here is a taster. It is not a fair one, since any kitchen will look a bit ropey when it is in the process of being removed.
* I have done some extensive research by going downstairs and looking at the candle. The flavour is peppermint, basil and rosemary. The smell of this combination, unlit, is odd.