Ladies and gentlemen, I have a dream.
It’s not about peace and harmonee for the whole world, I’m sad to say, though I’m perfectly happy to get behind that as and when. No, it’s a simpler, purer dream.
My dream is to shut my TV inside a cupboard.
I’ve always had a thing about the ugliness of tellies. When they stuck out a mile at the back and weighed four tonnes, I truly hated them. Now that they have gone all flat screen and slinky, I still hate them. When they’re turned off, their dense blackness, usually framed in silver, reminds me of the sinister, matt nothingness of a Malevich canvas. When they’re on, they dominate the room and it’s impossible to look elsewhere.
I’ve always had a sneaking interest in those bits of furniture you can buy to shut tellies away in. While we were married, Mr X firmly quashed any notion of buying such an item, proclaiming them vulgar. I’m sure he was right, though nothing, surely, is as vulgar as a telly itself.
It’s not that I’m pretending for one second that I’m not addicted to telly. Every evening I can be found, Chardonnay in hand, watching hours of crap, my eyes as big and round as Mia Farrow’s at the end of Purple Rose of Cairo. I’ll watch anything and everything – Holby City, To The Manor Bowen, Desperate Housewives, Neighbours …..really, I’m not fussy. It’s just that I sort of want to pretend that I am, and having the telly in a cupboard would really help. A large part of me wants to live in a Jane Austen fantasy parlour, embroidering daintily away while engaging in sparkling repartee with, of course, Mr D.
Obviously, I am a sad, deluded woman, but luckily these days I am free to pursue my delusions to their logical conclusion. Oh, the joys of divorce! These are so sparse that, whenever I come across one, I know I have to celebrate it.
Enter Julian, of the London Fitted Wardrobe Company. Julian was recommended by a friend, after he built beautiful alcove cupboards in her sitting room. She said excitedly, ‘he did a great job – and he’s nice to have around!’
Five days into the job, I can confirm that she was absolutely right on both points. The house has been chaos, with books, dust, nervous cats, odd bits of timber and grumpy children lying about the place. Normally, for someone with my compulsion to tidy stuff away before even I have finished using it, this would involve sky-high stress levels. But Julian, with a lovely sunny nature, a way with wood and an attention to detail that makes even me look sloppy, has made it all so easy. I knew he was the man for the job when he prised a bit of paint off the wall (in a spot that wouldn’t show!!) and took it to the paintshop to have the exact same shade made up.
Julian used to be in IT in the City, but after a year off travelling with his wife, decided commuting was for suckers. He launched three potential new careers; IT consultancy, wedding photography and cupboard making. The cupboards have won out. In recession-hit Dulwich, which is now embracing the staycation and the idea that paying for a lick of paint beats shelling out thousands on stamp duty, Julian is suddenly more popular than eyebrow threading and is booked up till I don’t know when.
We have had our moments. When I showed Julian the doorknobs I’d chosen, he lifted an eyebrow, ‘girly knobs! Your husband didn’t have much of a say, did he?’ he said. I wondered for a second. Did I want to go into the whole Mr X/divorce/True Love business? Erm, no I didn’t. But, as the week wore on, things came out ….Julian laughed and said it reminded him of the time he told a client her husband would be really pleased with the cupboards, only for the lady’s lesbian lover to arrive home ….
As we speak, the last coat of eggshell in the precise shade of the walls is going on the cupboard doors. The girls hate the idea of a telly in a cupboard. So, probably, does True Love. Mr X would doubtless see the whole project as further proof of my utter insanity, not that he needs it, of course. Even the cat is eyeing me strangely. But I am very happy. I have a dream. It’s not, perhaps, the dream I once turned my life upside down for, but who cares – it’s my very own dream, and it’s coming true.