Bless This Mess


I know I have been quiet for a while, but I have a very good excuse. In 18 days time, I have a visitor who is coming to stay here while I am in Kentucky.

My house is, in fact, my mother’s. To explain my domicile in the best possible way, so that you get an idea of what I am up against, I would like to draw your attention to a film called June Bride. It was one of those screwball comedies from the 1940s/50s that were subtly sophisticated in their way and totally hilarious.

June Bride stars the inimitable Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery (father of Elizabeth, of Bewitched fame, but I digress). It also stars a house. Decorated in a style referred to throughout as McKinley Stinker.

In other words, desperately old fashioned, and in sad need of a makeover. But McKinley Stinker covers it with so much more class.

I’m sure you can see the chintz. So… picture that chintz. Add a good hefty dollop of pet depredation (curtains dangling drunkenly from not frightfully well attached curtain rails… that sort of thing), sprinkle with moving boxes from a three bedroom maisonette from when adult daughter returned home with a husband and a caravan (caravan and husband have now gone… I miss the caravan…) add in a soupçon of very strange decorating choices, and some seriously ill-advised colour schemes, allow to simmer…

E voila!

Overstuffed McKinley Stinker.

There is way more accumulated bric a brac here than fits on the bookshelves. The loft is full. And we do not have a basement.

Before you all jump on my case, I should point out that in terms of hoarding, my mother makes me look like a dilettante. Up in the loft is the Silver Cross pram that was last occupied by yours truly. My mother kept it just in case. Okay, maybe that is understandable, I am female and she was hoping for grandchildren. But that does not explain how the pram was ever going to be got out of the loft, it was a tight fit before the loft ladder was installed.

That also does not explain my grandfather’s golf clubs (he passed away in Melbourne, Australia in 1960!), there are also off cuts of carpets, none of which actually match the carpeting scheme in this house, wallpaper – 172 rolls at the last count… a toy box, a mountain of old, broken and curiously ugly Christmas decorations. They were pretty ugly before age withered them.

This house has a seriously redeeming feature. It has a real fireplace. Toasted crumpets by the fire in winter are just perfect, except that before I am even vaguely tempted to think about that the chimney needs sweeping.

There are a million ornaments that need dusting, pictures stacked three deep on the stairs, and I am attempting by sheer force of will (as opposed to green fingers or any real gardening skill) to keep the kalanchoe I bought two weeks before Easter alive. After all, my old, and very strangely decorated bedroom needs serious brightening up. Anything that draws the eye from the hideous pink frilly curtains I count as a serious plus.

So, I am sweeping under rugs, forcing closet doors shut on the mountains of clothing and assorted other items that are welling out of them and transferring boxes of stuff that doesn’t need to be kept particularly tidy into the garage. One day, I might even fix the garage door so that it actually shuts.

I am the least domesticated creature on the planet. I crave ultramodern and minimalist surroundings. But until then I will try to keep the hoarding at bay!

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