Róisín Ingle: I can’t go into the sitting room. I despise every stick of furniture in it
I know I’m lucky to have a house, but I’m not in love with mine at the moment
I’m sick of the sight of my house. And there are tents all along the canal. Tents, count ’em and weep. Photograph: Laura Hutton
My friend L has been updating her interior. As soon as she starts talking about it I am gripped by jealousy. Part of me wishes she’d stop going on about the deliveries stacked in her porch and the feature wall of exposed brick she has planned for the sitting room. Another part of me wants every detail.
It all sounds very hipster, I think bitterly. “I mean, it’s far from exposed brick…” I say, trying to keep my voice chirpy. “Miles and miles away,” she agrees happily. We really don’t talk enough about working-class-girl turned middle-class-woman joy.
I want to update my interior. All the interiors. The inner interior, the one that might benefit from a good Bressie podcast and also the interior of my house. I’m not in love with my house at the moment. And also I’m lucky to have a house. And I’m sick of the sight of my house. And there are tents all along the canal. Tents, count ’em and weep, outside shuttered retail giants on Grafton Street. After more than a year of a global pandemic, when you’ve been in the house too long you can be acutely aware of all of these things at the same time.
Far from Grafton Street, miles and miles, L and I are having a fancy picnic in the park on a geometric “outdoor rug” she bought in Homebase. I don’t know how she finds these things. She has an eye. I am always glad when she buys clothes for my children because of her eye. I wish I had an eye like hers. Eye wish.
Being lazy, I live my interior dreams vicariously through people like L, who was daring enough when she did the big pre-pandemic job on her house to order a kitchen in dark navy and team it with a bright orange sofa. Choosing a set of Roman blinds recently, she took the purchase very seriously. She got a bonus at work, which she’d normally have put towards a foreign family holiday so she decided to buy some blinds and bricks instead.
I wish I had the gumption to update my interior
Since the first lockdown she has shared her small home workspace with a washing machine and a tumble dryer. Keen to personalise the window in her laundroffice, she decided on a set of blue leopard print Roman blinds with a matching fringe trim. She shows me a photo. “I’ve never seen a blue leopard before,” I muse to myself – it’s the jealousy thinking – but I don’t say anything, not wanting to ruin her buzz. Also, they are gorgeous. Annoyingly.
I wish I had the gumption to update my interior. The Bressie interior, but mostly the house. Instead, four spotlights in the bedroom ceiling have blown and the replacement ones won’t work. There must be some wires crossed. The dishwasher is broken again. I can’t even go into the sitting room because I suddenly despise every stick of furniture in it including the cheap Ikea rug which was only a holding rug for a better one which never materialised. Somehow it became the permanent rug. L’s “outdoor rug” is fancier than my indoor one.
Both sofas in the sitting room, no harm to them, are horrendous and I don’t even want to sit on them any more. One of them, the one that used to be a gorgeous pale pink, was once so pretty and posh it had a name. It was called a Fancy Nancy when I bought it pre-children. It’s far from fancy now. Lacklustre Larry I’d call it if I was in the sofa-naming game. Disappointing Diana. With a couple of twists of a lever, one of the sofas turns into a bed. I could justify it when there was a chance, even once or twice a year, that friends or relations could come to stay for weekend visits. But not these days. Now it just leers uncomfortably at me.
I am thinking all of this when L tells me what happened when she ordered the Roman blinds. She was on the phone to the woman in the blinds shop, a woman who would normally be doing her job from a showroom but is now doing her job at home. Being in her own gaff seems to have lent a more relaxed attitude which I, for one, fully endorse.
“You’re the one who has ordered the blue leopard print blinds?” the woman said.
“Yes,” said L.
“You’re very brave, they wouldn’t be for me, now,” the woman said. And L, far from being offended, loved it. So did I. We cracked up laughing from the comfort of the “outdoor rug”.
“No way, not for me,” continued the woman. “You know some people even get a fringe put on them?”
“Yeah,” smiled L. “I’m getting a fringe put on them.”
It reminded L’s partner about dealing with a different working from home saleswoman about the replacement boiler they needed recently. He was asking her about the receipt and the woman said she would definitely organise a receipt for him but she was just going to make herself a toastie first so if he wouldn’t mind waiting?
I was glad of the laugh. I needed it. I just can’t seem to get excited about this gradual lifting of lockdown or the late April sunshine or even the cherry blossoms which are usually guaranteed to spark joy. I’m happy for the hordes congregating on the beaches and the canals and I’m glad Dublin Zoo is open again but none of it is doing anything for my mood. It’s all a bit meh at the moment, I find. It’s all a bit blah.
I go on the website and I find the blue leopard print Roman blinds with the fringe. I watch a video of the blinds being smoothly closed and opened, opened and closed. It’s a sort of meditation, a mini-Bressie podcast. I take a breath in. Tune in to my interior. It definitely needs updating. I click the button that says “order”. I breathe out.