Venturing downstairs, babe in arms, after a well-needed lie-in following a night punctuated by nocturnal feeds I was greeted by the hullabaloo generated by a house-full …the four of us plus five house guests within which included two more children and a four-month-old puppy. Adults going about the ritual of breakfast picked their way through a landscape littered with toys, balls and wheel-enabled youngsters circling the island atop bikes and push alongs. The pup was banished to the garden where he was being eyed suspiciously by his nervous owners, fearful that he might embark upon an excavation of my borders …..and the scent of coffee, toast and S’s homemade malt loaf was in the air. As were a number of arrows…..
“Hey, hey….no shooting indoors…..” I chided as one whizzed past my nose.
“Ah” said our friend L, “we’ve been playing by different rules…..Z! N! No playing with the bow and arrows indoors..!”
“Sorry pet, that was me” S confessed placing a coffee in front of me as I plugged Baby A on for another feed.
“It was your rule!” I said, surveying the carnage.
“As Head of the House I can break my own rules.” came his response.
I raised an eyebrow. L looked doubtful.
“Well….nearly.” he checked. “There’s only three people ahead of me…”
Followers of the blog will be well-versed in stories depicting S less as Master of the House and more as Down-Trodden Tenant of it. Empathetic readers will be relieved to know this isn’t true of all areas of our lives but certainly, in relation to the house and it’s decoration, the basic premise goes like this: I do what I want and S grins and bears it. Often this is because he genuinely couldn’t give a hoot….”I have no opinion, pet” is an oft heard phrase around these pebbledashed parts. Other times hoot he most definitely does, recurrently (as in the case of the ‘care home chairs’) but regardless of frequency, his opinion falls on deaf ears. And some might add blind eyes as I see not what they are (wee stained and tatty) but what they could be (ahem….stylish examples of midcentury modern design? Possibly?) with only the small issue of extortionate reupholstery prices standing in-between. S’s most recent attempt to oust the chairs – on the grounds of ‘lack of suitability for comfortable breastfeeding’- was poo poohed almost before his sentence had been fully formed so stubbornly wedded am I to the set-up… and so my three-chaired ‘Cosy Corner’ remained.
At least it did for a while.
You see, it’s all very well to dismiss the suggestion of swapping out chairs for snug sofa when I’m carrying an obedient 40 week bump. But when said bump becomes a wriggling baby whose nugget of a head needs to be protected from wooden armrests by a barricade of cushions resulting in seat surface area being drastically reduced (bearing in mind my post-pregnancy derrière has done the opposite….) and perspective changes. There was, I began to acknowledge, perhaps some logic to S’s suggestion after all…..
“I think we should move the sofa” I announced one evening.
S raised an eyebrow.
“Why is that?” he asked probingly.
“Well……I think it might be more comfortable whilst, er, breastfeeding.”
“I believe that was my point….” S said.
Once decided the chairs would go (only as far as the snug) I became as keen as S to administer their redundancies and facilitate the subsequent re-employment of the sofa. Unable to make the manoeuvre alone I considered hoodwinking a friend into helping me one play-date filled Friday afternoon. However my time was otherwise consumed by a particularly hungry Baby A and an exciteable O and his little friend who required our almost constant attention to reposition the sheet-over-washing-line (aka den), be grateful recipients of make-believe restaurant offerings from their kitchen and vigilate the digging (and consuming) of mud in the last remaining section of the vegetable patch not yet inhabited by vegetables.
The next evening a solution presented itself.
“Would you give me a hand moving the sofa tomorrow?” S had asked the strongest of our five houseguests, J, who also happens to be a fan of all things interior and design. An offering of wine and S’s World Famous Pasta Sauce in exchange for muscle power made it all the harder for him to say no.
“Where’s it going?” he inquired.
S deferred to me.
“Um. There…” I indicated one of the two walls forming the right angle of the existing Cosy Corner. “Or there….” I pointed to the other.
“I think you should put it here” he gestured towards the green poster wall. “So you can look out into the garden in the summer. We are about to change our kitchen around for the same reason.”
I considered his proposal for a moment. Was it better to sit in the Cosy Corner – where the window is higher than seated eye level (designed as it was for a banquette we decided against mid-build) – and stay blissfully unaware of O shovelling gravel from the paths into the veg beds with his new spade? Or was it best to catch sight of him launching himself, spread eagled, into the cabbages so that the game could be curtailed before fully catching on? And thinking about it…..might we rather enjoy sitting in the sunshine watching the amythyst hued tulips planted in November sway in the breeze surrounded by the vibrant huecheras and feather-leaved Penstemons I was persuaded to buy by my green-fingered friend which are now thriving and looking rather lovely?
“Maybe you’re right” I hmmmmmmmed.
“Better flow….” J promised. “As you come through the front door you’ll see the garden. The table blocks it at the moment…”
The next morning, following a thrilling trip to the end of the road to watch mad people in their droves embark upon the London Marathon, a rather slick exchange took place…..project managed in its entirety by J.
“Sofa here…..plant this side..”
“Really?” I hesitated
“Yes” he said as he shifted it. “A light or something here….you need a reading light”
Obediently I rushed to the snug. “This one?” I proffered indicating the three armed chrome lamp, “or this one?”
“The green one” he decided.
He wrinkled his nose at my choice of coffee table until I found a lower one (another to-be-done-up job with its peeling veneer and wobbly legs), exchanged the lamp table with a crate, stole a spider plant from one of my expansive collection to sit under the green Anglepoise and switched the Cianni fan to the coffee sack wall. The dining table was then positioned next to it before being adjusted so as to sit centrally under the factory light “or it would annoy me….I need symmetry” J explained. The final flourish was a jauntily-angled chair positioned next to the sofa looking out over the garden.
“I love it” I said to S after we had waved our friends off.
S hmmmmphed a reply as he stretched out, New Scientist on knee, to make use of the comfortable new nook. “I notice that when J suggested anything it was all “yes, that’s great” and when I suggest something you do this,..” And flitting his eyes warily from side to side he emitted a doubtful, drawn out “ye..eahh…….”
So whilst S enjoyed the new view, Baby A slumbered and O absorbed himself in How To Train Your Dragon 2 I made use of the quiet to tackle the now chaotic snug…..with the remaining chairs to re-home and new toy storage to integrate.
“S!” I called eventually “where do you think I should put these toy storage units?”
S peered in. “I haven’t really got an opinion, pet” he admitted.
“Well, you see that’s the thing. J would have. J would have told me what he thought…”
“Ok. Then probably there…”
I flitted my eyes from side to side warily before emitting a doubtful, drawn out “ye..eahh…….” and with a resigned sigh S returned to the sofa.