Róisín Ingle


. . . on style icons

A friend admired my clothes horse the other day. I was so proud. She’d been eyeing it up all afternoon, initially embarrassed to make enquiries about such a totem of domestic mundanity. She held off as long as she could but eventually the allure of this multi-tiered blue and white plastic architectural triumph proved too much and she cracked. “I have to say something. I just love your clothes horse,” she gushed. “Where did you get it?”

People rarely gush about clothes horses, I find. Even ones with 40 metres worth of drying space that are skilfully designed to facilitate the drying of jumpers and which, in addition – as if all that were not enough – fold completely flat for easy storage. (Yes, I did have to consult the “manual” there. I don’t actually know this stuff off by heart.) Thinking about it, people probably don’t get the opportunity to gush because most normal people put their clothes horses away when they have visitors. Never mind dirty linen, for perfectly valid reasons people don’t want their clean, inexorably drying linen in full view when their friends pop round for a cup of tea.

I didn’t think I’d left it out on purpose but analysing it afterwards I suspected that I subconsciously left it on display because it’s the Rolls-Royce of clothes horses. You see, I don’t own the Rolls-Royce of anything much. I once, what seems a lifetime ago, spent months searching for candy-coloured stripy carpet – surprisingly difficult to secure – and eventually sourced it in London. All this gadding about London in search of the Rolls-Royce of striped floor textiles was carried out before I had children obviously. In the intervening years the aforementioned children have wrecked the place and the carpet is threadbare, a mere shadow of the playful, contemporary yet still functional interior vision I once had.

But ah, my perfectly constructed clothes horse makes me feel like a proper discerning grown-up who knows her stuff when it comes to homewares, which gives the mistaken impression I might also have a handle on other mysteries of life. And all this for only €40.

I still wasn’t expecting clothes-horse-related enquiries. I mean it’s perfectly acceptable to ask where somebody got their shoes or even their bathroom tiles but a clothes horse is not generally something people get excited about.

The first time I saw the original clothes horse that inspired the purchase of my own one, I gushed in almost the exact same fashion as my friend. And then when I was told where I could get one I legged it online and reserved one the way some people put their names down for designer handbags.

It’s called a Minky Tower but I forgive the name because it can carry two loads of washing. No Trojan horse this, it really delivers. And it’s tall rather than wide so it doesn’t give your whole kitchen that cluttered look. These are the qualities you look for in a clothes horse and let me just take a moment while it sinks in that, yes, I did just write “the qualities you look for in a clothes horse”. Well hello, middle age, my mother said you’d be along soon.

It’s all very well admiring people’s retro sideboards and funky wall art but if you really want to find covetable stuff in people’s homes you’d be better off in their cutlery drawers. It might be just me (okay, it’s probably just me) but when I get a chance to roam free in the market section of Ikea or any home ware emporium I go into the sort of spaced-out reverie other people get in the shoe sections or technology sections of department stores. Wild clothes horses can’t drag me away.

When my admiring friend went home I emailed her the link to Minky, which sounded like I was passing on a number for either a drug dealer or a wedding planner. As I reflected on the afternoon I realised I have a few other things I should put on display but don’t because they don’t at first glance appear to be covetable. I quite like my vegetable peeler, for example. It’s been much admired for the slick way it removes all manner of vegetable skins. When I do a mental root around my kitchen I also can’t help alighting on this oblong-shaped dish for serving vegetables which has three separate areas for, say, peas, broccoli and carrots, which makes it particularly useful for Sunday dinners. Why have three bowls when all the items can fit into one dish is what I asked myself when I purchased this.

Then there is my egg-white separator yoke. It’s a thingy that makes separating egg whites really easy and I usually stick it in the back of a cupboard where I can never find it when I have some eggs that need separating.

No more. It’s taking pride of place beside the Minky in my new cabinet of covetability when I next have people round. It is surely only a matter of time before somebody gushes: “I LOVE your egg separator.”

I, for one, cannot wait.

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