Over-Vertebrated Spinal Warps

Saturday 18th July

This was the original publicity shot used for the Sofa Diaries in the Peterborough Evening Telegraph when I wrote the Saturday column, posing on the sort of sofa I would never dream of actually owning, in an outfit that I’d only ever wear for job interviews. It’s not representative any more, obviously. But I'll just pop it in here, and have a little nostalgic sigh and feel slightly irritated with myself that I thought I looked middle-aged then...

Don't get me wrong, I am fond of the elderly woman who peers back at me from the bathroom mirror every morning, but she does get on my nerves after a while, what with all the muttering to herself and wandering about endlessly looking for the reading glasses she apparently needs for the simplest things; e.g. not walking into walls and searching for her reading glasses.

Monday 20th July

I have to rush off to the chiropractor again (I know it’s a contradiction in terms, but ‘limp off’ lacks the drama of this emergency which I really, really want to convey) because of a very incapacitating twinge in my back. Not even caused by anything impressively energetic, just bending down to put something in the recycling bin. Bloody recycling.

I put on one of their humiliating back-opening gowns and lie face down on the couch. There’s a bit of back cracking and, not screaming exactly, more a sort of noisy whimpering (me, not the chiropractor). It stops twingeing, but is still sore, so I don’t rush, but hobble home to tell Mr Young that it is essential that I lie on the sofa for a couple of days.

“What, no moving about at all?” he asks incredulously.

“Nope. It could be fatal.” But I’ve gone too far; fatal is clearly an overstatement. He does the patented Mr Young Sceptical Eyebrow Raise.

“Seriously,” I say, “it’s an over-vertebrated spinal warp. The whole of my back could disintegrate like a house of cards. At any moment.” We both know that this is an outrageous fabrication and there is no such thing as an over-vertebrated spinal warp, but I think it’s a pretty good improvisation. (I am a mistress of improvisation. Or should that be person of improvisation?)

I bravely maintain my Telling the Absolute Truth Stare, even in the face of the Eyebrow Raise. He eventually capitulates (he knows I never blink first) and brings me a cup of tea. And a cushion. And makes supper. Good old spinal warp. (I’ve written that one down for future reference.)

Wednesday 22nd July

Ruby is very frisky today. She has bounced all over our duvet cover with muddy paws, eaten the toggle from Mr Young’s walking-the-dog fleece and dug a big hole next to the rose bush. And that was all before breakfast. Mr Young says she has reached her rebellious teens, as she is now a year old.

It’s a good thing children don’t reach their rebellious teens when they are a year old. Toddling into their bedrooms and slamming the door, then secretly smoking under their cots. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Toilet training is bad enough.

Thursday 23rd July

Our kitchen is now on its last legs. Or last plinth, to be accurate. It was perfect in its day, but the self-closing drawers have forgotten how to self-close, and the fridge interior is grey and cracked and leaky, rather than shiny and white. Now that I think about it, the kitchen and I have aged together, which is quite poignant.

Mr Young is busy designing our new kitchen, and gets very excited about a glossy black and white Ikea kitchen for a while, but it’s just a brief flirtation, as I don’t think a flighty Italian-style, minimalist set up would suit him at all.

“You need something user-friendly,” I said. “Something a bit messy and comfortable, that will age well. You don’t want to get carried away with anything modern, just because it’s new and sexy.” Yes, as metaphors go, it’s a bit heavy-handed, but sometimes a point is worth driving home with a sledge hammer. In any case, subtlety has never been my middle name.

Friday 24th July

To back up my argument for a more farmhousey-style kitchen, I get an extravagant interiors magazine, which is full of glossy Smallbone and Mark Wilkinson designs. Some of the kitchens start at £65,000, which could buy half a two-bedroom flat in Peterborough.

At a push, you could probably move into one of these kitchens and live quite comfortably. Although a sleeping bag on top of the bespoke Carrara marble worktop might be a bit uncomfortable after a while,

The owners of these kitchens are also occasionally featured – chic women in black with impossibly long slim legs (which is entirely believable as there is never any food on show, apart from the occasional bowl of glossy fruit). I wonder if these women ever have mismatched mugs? Or teeth marks on the bottom of the unit drawers, at about the height of a small Jack Russell? Or a pile of junk mail next to a pot of biros that don’t work? Ha! I think not.

Monday 27th July

My back feels much better, so I am restored to full mobility (reluctant Hurray!) and able to return to my housework rota. Today is cobwebbing, washing the sheets and dusting the TV room. It is a subject of great family hilarity, my housework rota, but if certain people would only listen, they would understand that there is a point to its apparent arbitrariness (a great word, although one that you wouldn’t want to attempt after a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. Like phenomenal. Or over-vertebrated spinal warp).

I have often tried to explain the raison d’etre of my rota; to escape the drudgery, I made a list of all the household chores and then allocated them randomly to the days of the week. This means that I might hoover a room on Monday then dust it on Thursday, for example.

“But surely it’s more logical to do the whole room on the same day?” ask the certain people (see above), with irritating smirks.

“Yes,” I say. “You might think so, but this has the benefit of avoiding complete and predictable drudgery, and at the end of the week, the whole house is done. Ta da!” It seems quite obvious to me.

Variety is the spice of housework.

Wednesday 29th July

For kitchen storage inspiration, we go to Ikea so that we can examine wire baskets and cunning drawers for recycling bins (not that I’m going to risk using those, unless I want another two days on the sofa. Which come to think of it, I might, so I had better start campaigning for them).

I do like the Ikea children’s department. When we are grandparents, I intend to fill an entire room with miniature chairs and tables and a tunnel stuffed with colourful soft toys. And bunk beds, of course. I love bunk beds, and have, only half-jokingly, suggested to Mr Young that we should consider having them for ourselves.

“Just think of the extra floor space we would have,” I point out.

He looks at me scathingly; this is currently battling it out with the Eyebrow Raise for becoming his default expression. I would prefer the latter, given the choice. At least that has a touch of fondness about it.

He’d have to have the bottom bunk of course. He’s much heavier than me, and the thought of Mr Young crashing through my ceiling of pine slats would probably give me sleepless nights, which would defeat the object, really.

I’d get more rest in my sleeping bag on top of my Carrara marble worktop.

As long as I wiped off the sticky patches and moved the pile of junk mail.