Keris Stainton‘s weekly column on married life…
I read an article recently that explained how you can learn a lot about your life – what you value and what you don’t – by the condition of your home. I really hope the same can’t be said for your marriage because, if so, ours is practically derelict…
When I met David, he was living in a hovel. Seriously. Because it was in Wimbledon, it was a very expensive hovel, but since it had a family of rats living in a hole in the back of the wardrobe, it was definitely a hovel. I was house-sitting for for friends. Well, former friends. Here’s some advice. If you value a friendship, don’t house-sit. Because when they say it’s okay for you to borrow their leather jacket, it turns out it’s only okay for you to borrow it only if it doesn’t then get stolen in a pub. (Along with your Sony Walkman, but did they care about that? Noooo.)
By startling coincidence, me and David were both evicted from our unsatisfactory living situations at the same time. So we moved in together. First of all into a cheap and nasty tourist hotel in Paddington and then into an eye-wateringly expensive one-bedroom flat in East Finchley. For the next eight years we moved from rented accommodation to rented accommodation. And so we didn’t really decorate. We put up a Reservoir Dogs poster and, later, an Amelie poster. But we never painted and we didn’t have any furniture.
And then we bought a house. A house that, though small, was decorated almost entirely in shades of burgundy and maroon. We painted. Well, I say we. *I* painted. Fifteen years of living in rented made me desperate for a place of my own to put my stamp on, whereas it had made David realise he could live anywhere in any condition and there was no need to decorate at all.
By a stroke of luck (sort of) we had a flood and got the entire downstairs of our new house beautifully decorated on the insurance. But the rest of the house? Not so much. Take our bedroom where, as Cribs would say, the magic happens (although I much prefer Marc from Ugly Betty’s definition: where the tragic happens). Fitted wardrobes with brown louvre doors. Lemon walls. A swirly pale blue shag pile carpet. David’s bedside table is covered in dust and stuffed with old copies of Classic Rock. Mine is piled with photos, books and half drunk cups of Ovaltine.
If our neglected, knackered and outdated bedroom is indicative of our marriage, we’re really in trouble. Now where did I put that Ikea catalogue…?