I have house dysmorphia. Distorted house image, if you will. I don't think my house is larger than it really is - I just think it is really, really un-homely.
I am feeling it more than ever at the moment. Not only am I just back from my childhood home, which was warm, soft and cosy, full of nutritious meals and constant cups of tea, but I have also been feeding myself an intensive diet of Christmas issues of women's magazines. I have discussed my feelings on the cookie cutter identi-horror of all women's magazines for the over thirties before, but the Christmas issues are a million times worse. Why not, suggests Red and its army of Nigella drones, place your greetings cards (make them yourself! with hand carved woodcuts!) in an airtight tin with some open pots of Christmassy essential oils? Why not wrap your presents in foreign newspapers, tied with waxed string and a bunch of cinnamon sticks? Why not personalise your gingerbread people with the features of your nearest and dearest in homemade fondant? Why not fuck off and die you poisonous trolls? I think, scornfully, whilst on the inside, my horrid little lizard brain decides they are indeed right.
I look around the house with growing disgust. The CFO, ever energy conscious, has been living in sepulchral half light with all the curtains and blinds closed for the last week, adding more ugly jumpers to his small crochety form as the mercury falls. He has eaten all the food in the house and failed to shop or do any washing ("I cleaned out the fish tank AND videoed Star Ac!" he protests), and created a sordid little nest for himself and the reptiles. The intriguing tableaux vivant from before half term:
still crowns the kitchen shelf (though the crocodile's head has shrunk while its body has swollen grotesquely). The house smells of dust and tinned mackerel and unopened post lies everywhere.
The house itself is not the problem. I love our house - it's a great house (Brussels 1910 town house on 4 floors, tiny back garden, high ceilings, nice if grubby tiles), and a house I can totally imagine staying in forever until they children put me into a really cheap and nasty care home. I can say that with no false modesty because we've done nothing to it since we moved in. it's basically someone else's great house, but than doesn't make it any less great (hell, I wouldn't have shelled out for the HUGE baths or the Philippe Starck sinks). It just looks like sheltered housing for a bunch of hoarding crazies now. Crazies who got a job lot of brown furniture and haven't repainted in, oooh ten years or so. Why is everything I own apparently brown? How did this happen? I can only assume it was during some period of madness I have conveniently forgotten. How dirty can white paint get before you can no longer say it is white? There are books and Pokemon drawings and unidentified tools and plastic rubble and vital financial documents and shoes lying everywhere. There is a fantastic chair somewhere in our bedroom, but I can't find it under a mountain of Schrodinger's clothes. I idiotically had an ancient sofa covered in gorgeous Neisha Crosland fabric last year at eye-watering expense (you can see it here behind the models), but it's covered in unsorted socks and ancient corporate t-shirts, and someone has biroed all over one of the arms.
Everywhere else I go seems better than here. Violet's flat is serene and gorgeous and full of cake and art and loveliness. My brother's house, although there are even more stray frozen peas and chips lurking in corners than here and they have mice, seems oddly more grown up. More full of the stuff you should have. More relaxed. Everyone else seems to make their house more like home. Not necessarily nicer, more beautiful or even cleaner (though 99% are indeed in this category), just more welcoming. I feel like I am still not adult enough to carry this off, somehow - I'm a squalid teenager on the inside, waiting for someone else to sort my washing and make the dinner. There's some indefinable thing that I seem unable to conjure up.
I think - and hope - this is subjective. Maybe in thirty years time this house will exemplify everything that is homely and comforting to the boys (I am smirking as I write that, it seems so improbable) but it's a bit of an obssession of mine and I just can't seem to find the answer. This is why I fill the house with animals. I am currently working tirelessly on the CFO to get a dog when I stop working full time in the hope that this is what's missing. We've restocked the aquarium after the latest overfeeding apocalypse and the triops eggs should be starting to hatch about now. Hibernation watch continues on the tortoises. Lashes has been promised a lizard when he's 10. How many more creatures can we fit in here? I draw the line at additional humans.
Or else I bake - and you've seen how well that goes.
I tried to make soup today but have thus far only succeeded in setting fire to the spatula. I'll have a devil of a job explaining that when they get home. Then I tried to make myself a big pot of proper leaf tea, but dropped the wrong tea pot lid into it then burnt myself trying to fish it out with a ladle. Then I realised I had no tea strainer and the sieve is full of pond slime from the CFO's great fish tank clean. I am doomed aren't I?
Any thoughts? What is it that makes somewhere home? Am I missing some kind of homemaking gene? Anyone who has actually been to my house, did it strike you as cold and unwelcoming and filthy?