I am writing this on my bed, in a bedroom which contains every movable item from the living room, including two sofas, a hat stand, several large plants, a dining table and chairs, a small cupboard full of glasses, and a set of botanical watercolours, plus the new cooker and washing machine. For lo, verily, it occurred to us that we should do the environmentally responsible thing and replace our medieval boiler (last serviced 1983) and then also seize the chance to lay out the kitchen differently so that the boiler wasn’t next to the fridge, and so that the astonishing amount of kitchen equipment and supplies we seem to own – seven different types of sugar, three kinds of whisk, a doughnut maker – could be stored properly etc etc. Which is why I have been, since Friday, acting as unpaid project manager to the gas fitter, the electrician and the kitchen fitter, who appear to be having some form of testosterone contest in our tiny stripped kitchen which prevents them from actually communicating – apart from the horrid fact that it emerged that our inoffensive old IKEA kitchen cabinets concealed dangerous, illegal home-made electric wiring, and the fact that the gas supply pipe is too small for our new boiler, so all of the floorboards have to come up. The price of the whole thing has mounted by roughly a third since Saturday. My chequebook winces. I. is in the
For two pins I would say, Put it back the way it was, cover the fire-hazard wiring in tiles and we’ll pretend nothing’s happened!
The thing that is keeping me sane, oddly, is opera, about which I know nothing and have never much minded about. But with G. now working at the ROH, I get to a lot of dress rehearsals at odd hours of the day – most recently to Wagner’s Flying Dutchman and Bellini’s I Capuleti et i Montecchi. I go in with no knowledge, no preconceptions – nothing of the critical mind I bring to the theatre – and plonk myself down in an orchestra seat that I begin to think of as mine (despite the fact that it costs £220 for a performance) and sometimes all I hear are vocal acrobatics, strenuous and impressive, the way someone doing the high jump is impressive, and sometimes I’m absolutely ravished by some aria or duet and go home humming it badly.
What I still cannot handle is the silver-haired smugfest in the row behind shouting 'Brava!' at curtain calls.