Thursday, September 07, 2006

Looming home improvement

Sporadic, time-starved mid-week meals spent sitting around waiting for the conversation about kitchen improvement to come to an end. You know, the usual optimization exercise that springs into action with everything from the price per square metre of cheap floor tiles through the style of the door fittings to the optical properties of the strips of material that will adorn the sawn edges of the worktops. The recurring nature of the conversation is what wears you down. It can be days between bouts, perhaps a week or two.

Then it will rear its ugly self just at the end of the night after you’ve got home from a day’s work, washed up the day’s plastic, got dinner on the go, cleaned your children’s teeth, continued with dinner, kissed your children goodnight, put your children to bed, finished off the dinner, laid the table, served the dinner, sat at the table, opened the Fucking mineral water, ate your dinner, talked about anything but, finished your dinner, talked about anything but, remained normal, … This has been going on for two years.

But even when you aren’t actually talking about home improvement -- on account of other aspects of modern life such as trying not to murder your two young children, wife and then heading for a cruise operator in the West Highlands for a one-way sailing to St Kilda -- it’s still present in the background like the nagging knowledge that you don’t have any garlic or cling film left. And this is a project that I am supposed to be in my element in: redesigning what is effectively my dream kitchen. Perhaps I am too tired to take it on board.

My love of cooking goes down to survival levels when time gets too tight. Maybe this is what all the world is doing and the reason why nobody knows where chips come from anymore is because they have careers in which they believe.
I, meanwhile, am eyeing up a Soay sheep’s bouncing spring lamb on the steep green hills while on the edge of the world and eating little else but fulmars and fish; posing as an eccentric eco-tourist when approached. “Home improvement” would surely take on a whole different meaning in such a setting.

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