Foolish Things

So we are spring cleaning in the middle of an unseasonably cold autumn because we have no room and people who live like hoarders are a bit, well, cramped and perhaps a little ill. You may or may not know that Mark has a habit of dragging things into the flat that are, on paper, very good/new/nicer than the stuff we have, but then he is less good at getting rid of the things that we already have, and there suddenly becomes some sort of cosmic crisis because I go mental and hyperventilate at the sight of all the extra furniture and the lack of visible flooring, and he gets mad because I am ungrateful and naggy.  The children, however, are delighted because the flat becomes some sort of fantastical multi-layered soft play area, enabling them to bounce from couch to extra couch, onto various vintage marine wooden boxes, back onto and under a spare study desk, back to couch, and so on, until I have to leave the flat for fear of hitting someone. There was a brief period two weeks ago when Mark dismantled and then dragged in a massive grey couch but hadn’t yet gotten rid of (or even thought about HOW to get rid of) the OTHER extra couch, and the living room became one large bed. It was awful.

Then we freecycled the first extra couch and suddenly the flat felt HUGE again. Here I am, post-cleaner-visit, marvelling at all the floor I can see:


Do you see why I get very scratchy around the neck when more stuff gets shoved in? A bit sweaty and full of the blind rage? It’s a fine balancing act housing five children, me, Mark, the dog, the geckos, the office, totally unused guitars (three), a keyboard (?), more vintage brass marine equipment than an actual naval base might have, recipe books, lego, and my lipsticks in a two-bedroomed flat.

So I am getting rid of more stuff, mostly on eBay. Today, the first auction of six things came to an end, and only one thing sold. Now I am battling hurt feelings. The eBay community, apparently, has viewed my clothes, some have even *watched* my clothes, but then they haven’t bought them, and now I feel inherent rejection from the virtual world for my taste in Erdem silk dresses and Mary Katrantzou lilac sheer cardigans. DOES EVERYONE THINK I DRESS FUNNY? It is humbling, I tell you. Also, it is not a very efficient way to make money. I’ve made 60 quid and used a LOT of my emotional energy writing exciting clothing descriptions, ironing things and assembling cot furniture. I could make more money not buying stuff in the first place – but I suspect everyone knows this already.

A Seemingly Reasonable Idea That Turned Out To Be Very Wounding For The Spirit

So the other thing about having not a lot of space here in this flat is the fact that we should really somehow grow another bedroom for the burgeoning young-man-ness of our biggest kid (soon to be followed by his brothers like hairy pubescent testosterone-rich dominos). But you can’t grow it, or carve up the living room or burrow deep down under the road or extend the loft when you live in a rented basement flat, and so Mark and I had a tiny, tiny, joyful, exciting little moment last week where we thought we could – just – afford to buy a house here, because there are some savings in the bank for once.

Not ‘here’ here, but up the A40 behind the Hoover Building  in a little place called Perivale, near the Central Line station so that the bigger boys could still get to their school in about 18 minutes, Mark could still get to work and to his suppliers, I could still do whatever it is that I do (I realise that no one is entirely clear on this point, least of all me). And Mark could do up a house and put in an extension and we could have some space and extra bedrooms with a little garden and a shed to put his guitars and arm weights into. It seemed like it would be the same monthly repayments as our rent, pretty much. So I scheduled in a few viewings on Tuesday and I had visions of staying here a little longer, with Mark involved in his own project after years of doing it for everyone else, using his knowledge and contacts and some of the stuff he has squirrelled away over the years (massive shower head, anyone?) and the kids having a little space to themselves. But as we drove there, Mark spoke quickly to a mortgage broker who said there is no way anyone would give us a mortgage.

Is this too depressing? I am depressed just writing it.

It’s because we are self-employed, and Mark is getting a little bit old, and we have SO MANY KIDS and I have no proper job and we don’t have a borrowing history. Our house in New Zealand doesn’t count and our 15 years of renting also doesn’t count. So we are a terrible risk. THANKS BANKERS FOR CREATING THAT GLOBAL BLOODY CRISIS WHERE YOU RUINED EVERYTHING FOR NORMAL PEOPLE.

In Other News

Mark was in Wales on the weekend and I was in the shower on Saturday morning and the children thought it would be a marvellous idea to set fire to a wad of paper towels. They went outside in the freezing cold with some tiny plastic cups filled with water in case things got messy, lit the wad, whooped like little unsupervised savages, got sprung by the postman who told them off, chucked on the water and then ran away and hid. I *was* in the shower but then got waylaid very briefly by The Outnet clearance sale, so missed all the drama. I noticed a bit of a kerfuffle and a smokey smell, and ran out in my towel to meet the postman who brought me up to speed and told me to put some clothes on.

I really hope your November has been kinder.







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7 Responses to Foolish Things

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m dying with laughter over here in bloody Wales ! You need to write a book 😂

  2. theharridan says:

    Thank you! You have to laugh, really….and I am grateful the children supply me with evermore ridiculous material, even if it requires H&S breaches. You’ve got to find the silver in that parental cloud, or something

  3. Merann says:

    Space is over rated. You’ll just fill it with more stuff and possibly more pets or grand parents like I have. And just like us the kids will prefer to still share a room cause they love each other or love annoying each other. When we first moved to Australia into a tiny tiny 2 bed unit there was an Indian family of at least 6 adults living quite successfully and happily in a similar sized unit. It won’t be long before first son is off to uni (it comes so fast!) and like dominos it will all be over and you’ll be on your own.

  4. Cath says:

    For a while there our plan was to rent until the kids left home and then buy a much smaller house/apartment. That could still work for you guys. Owning a home isn’t a necessity but having a retirement plan is. God I sound so old. Old but wise.

  5. jacks says:


  6. raccontando says:

    Don’t take the word of just one mortgage broker if you really want to move! Try lots of different avenues.

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