Maeve Higgins’s ideal . . . living room


I was in my room the other day, composing a general text message to send to every contact in my phone. I wanted the message to seem artless but also to get results. I had got as far as “Hi, how r u? Text back if u want” when I suddenly felt unsure of myself. I saved it as a draft, alongside “Yah I no it’s off but ur still my boyf” and began instead to imagine the ideal living room.

Curious scientists recently asked me what kind of living is done in a living room. Well, get ready, boffins, because I’ve collated the data. Here’s how we put the “liv” in living room today.

1: By sitting quietly alone, watching CSI Miami and eating pickled-
onion-flavour corn snacks.

2: By sitting quietly with our flatmates, watching CSI New York and eating colourful button-shaped candies.

3: By sitting quietly with our partners and children, watching CSI Las Vegas and eating bread with processed meat.

So, quiet sitting is the thing. But what to sit on? Think big here. Think glorious impracticality, think envious glances from poverty-stricken relations . . . think up to a dozen skinned bullocks. If a gigantic, cream leather sofa doesn’t scream sexy sophistication, what does? “You do, Maeve!” I hear some of you screech, eager as ever to flatter me. I’m smiling benevolently as I exhort you to pipe down. I must remind you that I’m talking about sofas, not beautiful young columnists with keen, muscular brains and an impressive sense of humility.

Me, I like a fire. I’d go so far as saying fire is one of my top four favourite elements. Ideally, use a fireplace, not just a circle you’ve marked out on the carpet. Even then, there’s some danger. A crow might be living in your chimney and come tumbling down, panicky and singed. It’s your job to calm him down and somehow ram him back up there to freedom.

A mirror over the mantelpiece is essential. A lady needs to see when her dungarees need an ironing and it’s her husband’s right to know when his kaftan has got rucked up into his PVC leggings. Just remember to cover that mirror when someone dies – an old Irish tradition, begot from so many of us having low self-esteem.

My dream living room should reflect who I am. Tricky, as I’m not quite sure. However, I know what I like. For example, my favourite animal is a giraffe. If a conversation sours, let’s say right after I’ve accidentally said something like “Well, evolution is one theory”, I’ll distract everyone by pointing out my best cushion, the one shaped like a giraffe. See? Clever.

My ideal living room will have stacks of my favourite weapon (the throwing star) and my favourite storybook (the Old Testament ) on the frosted glass coffee table. I’ll clap my hands to dim the lights, snap my fingers to light the fire and launch myself repeatedly at the sofa until I don’t slide off – magnificent.