Shopping for items of interior decoration is an excellent process through which to deduce one’s long-term compatibility with another human being. It’s no good thinking you’ll be able to cope with each other on a foreseeable-future basis if one trip to Habitat sees your compatriot picking up items that makes you want to hit them over the head with the nearest available copy of Ideal Homes.
Thankfully, following a recent jaunt to variety of Oxford Street’s large department stores, there’d been a few debates, but no magazine-induced injury, and The Writer and I were still on speaking terms. We do – usefully, considering our situation – have pretty similar tastes in the important things in life: on wine, high-quality American television drama and balsamic vinegar, we essentially think as one.
But on matters of aesthetics, things are a little more divergent: a few modern art prints that were thoroughly at home in Blonde Towers didn’t survive the transition to Chez Nous, and TW definitely has ideas about which homewares that he’s happy to live with.
“NO!” he said vehemently as we wandered round John Lewis on Saturday afternoon, my poking and prodding and picking up things that I quite fancied. “You are allowed ONE piece of jingoistic furnishing per room. No more.”
Apparently our similar tastes don’t stretch to numerous items displaying a Union Flag print, and a second such cushion in the sitting room is apparently too much for the man to take. (I happen to think that furnishings with a Union Flag on them aren’t jingoistic – they’re patriotic (if a little twee). Critical difference. And anyway, I like it as a piece of design and it might not be round for too much longer so I want to make the most of it whilst I can.)
And it was just as well that we’d had lengthy discussions over several weeks about just what it was we wanted out of a toaster before we set foot in Selfridges’ kitchenwares department. Because even though we thought we knew precisely what it was we wanted, we stood – for at least 25 minutes – in front of a large display of Dualit toasters, pondering, debating – and, in the case of TW, eye-rolling.
For what is essentially a machine that heats bread, it’s baffling that it can have so many permutations, and that making the decision of which to buy merely to heat bread could be fraught with so much difficulty.
Could we get the orange one? Or would it clash with all the teal stuff already in the kitchen? And does the two-slice come in black, because the black one is the nicest in terms of colour, but the mini one isn’t as nicely made and the four-slice is just too big (and, frankly, expensive). But if the two-slice doesn’t come in black here, should we go to John Lewis where it does come in black, even though that would defeat the object of buying the thing in Selfridges with the gift card? And well, the chrome one is quite nice, but wouldn’t we spend our entire lives wiping it free of sticky fingerprints? And the cream one is quite homey, but maybe not quite right given that the coffee machine is black? And if we just grab that chrome one and put it here next to the cream one then it’ll give us a better idea, won’t it? And…
Upshot: TW can take precisely 23 minutes of debating kitchenware appliances before getting cross. We bought the cream one. It looks pretty.