Tuesday 7 November 2023

Notes to those contemplating a kitchen refurb

 1. Your builders are your friends. You might not choose to go on holiday with them but keep them well-fuelled and happy and treat them with respect. By the end of the build, you'll be revering their skilled knowledge of/. pipework and plastering.

2. Treat your research like a PhD. By the end of the experience, what you don't know about 2 Gang CAT 5E outlets, 38mm bullnose edging strips or in-frame profiles won't be worth writing on the back of a fag packet.

3. Put all your new-found knowledge to good use by applying to the BBC for the next series of Mastermind. My specialty subject will be the Howdens Catalogue - Spring 2023 edition.

4. Snacks - buy shares in McVities. You will have bought a lifetime's supply of Jaffa Cakes within the month. Also, be prepared for them to go off Jaffa Cakes at some stage. You will then have to upgrade to luxury triple choc chip shortbread. 

5. Accept that the biggest 'surprise' cost in the project will be something seemingly inconsequential like a cat flap. Not just any cat flap of course but one that invloves the removal of part of a wall, which of course will then need to be plasterboarded, plastered, and all other things to do with plastering and will inevitably cost 10 times what you first envisaged. You'll be left wondering if the wall to wall triple glazed sliding doors were a good investment after all but then your fur babies will thank you.

6. Be prepared to be shocked by the price of a can of paint If you haven't re-decorated in over a decade ( and in our case make that 3 decades) then the £100 price tag on a pot of something that promises to be scuff-proof, bomb-proof and last a lifetime ( even though we're in our sixties so not such a bonus) will make your eyes water. 

7. Vow never to scoff again when you watch an episode of Grand Designs on the telly and they get to the bit where the budget gets blown out of the water by something that was supposed to have been shipped within 6 weeks and ends up being delayed by several months. It's at this point where you laugh at the unsuspecting and hapless person who didn't include a big enough contingency and marvel at their stupidity. It will happen to you. 

8. Remember that everyone you meet who asks you where you're getting your kitchen from will inevitably tell you where you should have gone They'll also have a story about someone who ordered from the company you've chosen and had an 'absolute nightmare'. This phrase will pop up a lot.

9. You will use the phrase 'nightmare' a lot and not at someone else's expense.

10. Remind yourself that it is just a kitchen. Whilst you might compare the process to childbirth or having your wisdom teeth out without anaesthetic, at the end of the day you only have yourslef to blame. What on earth made you think this whole fiasco was a good idea?  

New Kitchen

 You know that thing ...  when you take your glasses off you can't hear as well or so it seems?

Well, having a kitchen fitted is a bit like that. There's 'stuff' going on in the room formerly known as 'The Kitchen' but the other unaffected rooms in the house have gone to pot. I've also lost count as to how many times I've forgotten to brush my teeth in the morning and can't remember when I last bothered with moisturising. In other words, I've lost the plot.

Those grand plans to keep dust at bay by taping up doorways have been long forgotten and washing up in the bath has lost its novelty appeal, not that it ever had any. What's worse, I'm eating junk which is hardly surprising as everything is being bunged in the newly acquired air fryer and although this mystical device can do all kinds of healthy things according to the instruction booklet, all I ever seem to cook is chips.

Have you also noticed that when you embark on anything involving shedloads of money, other people start chipping in about how we should be paying in cash to avoid VAT and why aren't we bargaining our way to a 50% reduction from the builders who, in their opinion, must obviouly be fleecing us? These are the people who are withdrawing £20k in cash on a weekly basis and getting their kitchens from some knock-off supplier that's come from Albania from a bloke who knows a bloke who 'does cheap knock-offs' . Well, good luck with that is all I can say. 

Call me old-fashioned or grossly naive but I prefer to know who I'm dealing with and as for all the tax-dodging, have these know-it-alls ever thought about who paid for their last triple bypass? Yep - us 'little people' who pay taxes.

Friday 3 March 2023


 Burnout is a very useful, if overused, phrase.

At best it indicates a low mood, a feeling of lethargy, exhaustion even but not in a physical way after a workout in the gym. It's more visceral than that . Strangely it's more difficult to spot until it's gone too far.

At its worst, it can mean the complete annihilation of any feeling or emotion to the point of not knowing yourslef or caring about anything. Words like quicksand spring to mind - the helplessness of being sucked under.

The urge to run away

Sometimes it tips into something more serious. It's not just a desperate need to escape it's more of a deep desire to make the world stop so you can step off into oblivion. 

I need to constatly remind myself that this too will pass. And pass it does, only to return in time, again and again and again.

At what point do the agains cease I wonder ?

Sunday 29 January 2023

Middle Class, whatever that is.

I went to hear Roger McGough at the Landmark Arts Centre last night. It was the first night of his new tour Alive and Gigging and what a joy it was to soak up his poetry. I even managed to have a quick catch-up chat with him afterwards. Sat next to a couple called Charlie and Charlie and enjoyed their company too - so much so that we all went for a drink in the Kings Head after the show.

Funny how it only takes one thing to burst your bubble though. Youngest son, when asking about whether I enjoyed myself, offered his views on the venue - which he dislikes. The reason he gave was that it "only attracts white, middle-class, middle aged people ". Unfortunately for him, it's the category I fit into and I wondered if he expected me to apologise for the fact that I had white parents, live in a middle-class suburb of London having crawled my way up the career ladder ( whilst banging my head repeatedly against the glass ceiling of my profession ) and had reached the middle years of my life. This must be why youngsters appropriate a Jamaican patois and aspire to be broke members of the working class. Funny though that they don't spurn the trappings of our tawdry middle class though like, funding through University, a roof over their heads , free meals and permanent rent-free lodgings well into their twenties. 

I have to keep reminding myself that they love us really.