Thursday, 29 April 2010

Too much porn and not enough goulash

Warning - this blog entry contains sexism, stereotyping and spelling errors.

The last couple of weeks have seen some poor spelling and a seemingly never-ending search for sanitary ware. Idly flicking through the local authority jobs online, I came across one that involved dealing with ‘members of the pubic’. I wondered whether to apply, at the same time pointing out this rather amusing faux pas in the application, but quickly thought better of the idea. Nobody likes a smartarse. However, everybody likes a handy set of three fridge storage boxes, and the co-op were doing a special deal on them last week. Except that the notice described them as ‘fidgde storage’. I wasn’t sure how to pronounce that.

Back to the sanitary ware. The time is fast approaching for our friendly builder to start work on the refurbishment of our bathroom and shower room, and it’s not until you start to make a list of the necessary fixtures and fittings that you realise how much stuff you need to get. Bath, two basins, two toilets, two shower cubicles and trays…then there’s the taps, tiles, floor covering…I have to admit that, when it comes to choosing such things, I’m an amateur from the school of ‘let’s just get something, shall we? This’ll do.’ But my pathetic, half-hearted interest in things ablutionary doesn’t go down well with Mrs. H.

Mrs. H is a porn addict. Perhaps I should qualify that remark. She has no interest (as far as I am aware, dear bloggy friend) in magazines featuring gentlemen dressed (or rather, not dressed) as gladiators, firemen or horny Vikings (I refer to their helmets, which are always incorrectly surmounted by horns). No. Mrs. H. is into something far worse - Home Porn. On the days when she finds time to do so, she can be seen in our breakfast room, surrounded by catalogues; bathroom catalogues, tile catalogues, household gadget catalogues, and magazines featuring home decorating and refurbishment. These publications always seems to feature some thirty-something woman who has turned her bleak 18th century shell of a cottage into something out of Grand Designs for a few hundred quid. They always seem to ‘know someone’ who can build them an entire kitchen out of salvaged ships’ timbers, or who rewired their house for a couple of pots of home-made jam and a bottle of elderflower wine. It is these publications that Mrs. H. will read in preference to the latest novel by Mr. Dickens or Mr. Thackeray, and I have to admit to feeling rather uncomfortable with my bed time book - Three men in a boat - whilst Mrs. H. peruses the most recent update to the John Lewis catalogue.

The Sunday papers really don’t help the cause of those of us who find the whole business of decorating rather less interesting than, um, just about everything else. Their lifestyle supplements often carry articles about a couple who have refurbished their house. Invariably, of course, they are a Perfect Couple. She is often a fabric designer, whom we see engaged either in arranging flowers or baking cup cakes in her kitchen with her unnaturally well-behaved children. He is an IT consultant with that shaven head that seems to be rather popular in certain circles, poring over his laptop whilst a curiously quiet jack russell terrier sits at his feet. Their house, which is usually in Hastings Old Town, looks fabulous, with its shabby chic (or as I like to call it, badly-painted) furniture and little accessories dotted about, and has clearly cost a small fortune to get to that standard. But we have to listen to all this ’we had a really tight budget’ nonsense. Why not just be honest and say, ’it cost us an arm and a leg to do the place up.’ All this false modesty makes them sound like politicians who, having gone to a private school, try to persuade us that it really wasn’t much better than Bash Street. But I digress. I just wish they’d stop parading all this Home Porn before our eyes.

During the course of our bathroom odyssey, we came across one of those discount furniture warehouses. You know the kind - the ones that sell ‘genuine oak furniture’. Yep, it’s genuine, all right. The only problem is that it’s…how shall we say…rather chunky. The coffee tables have legs so thick that they might have been constructed from recycled fence posts or railway sleepers for all I know, and weigh so much that I’m surprised they haven’t collapsed in upon themselves like neutron stars. This particular warehouse only had a few sad, massive pieces dotted about; all the rest of the stock was in huge cardboard boxes, piled higgledy-piggeldy three or four high, either side of a central walkway. As we stood there, an employee was lugging another huge box on a wheeled truck into the bowels of the warehouse, and I was suddenly transported back to the final few moments of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the crated up Ark of the Covenant is buried deep in some US government warehouse. I said as much to Mrs. H. She said I think too hard for my own good sometimes.

This seemed to be a good time for us to depart and, as we walked through what appeared once to have been a office, I saw some coat hooks on the wall. Or rather, I didn’t; I saw one coat hook, and three sets of screw holes where three further coat hooks must once have hung. Beneath the one good hook was the name Terry. Beneath the screw holes were the names Phil, Andy and Paula. What was going on here? Was this some kind of employee incentive scheme? Was Terry awarded the only coat hook on the basis of his superior sales figures? Were Phil, Andy and Paula new members of staff who, due to their inexperience, had not yet qualified for the coveted hook? Had they previously had hooks, but been relieved of them for some misdemeanour, or for failing to meet their sales targets? Or (which seemed unlikely) had the hooks simply fallen off and not been replaced? I barely had time to ponder this before I saw a sign just outside the warehouse. It said ‘Hand car a £5’. This seemed a rather curious instruction. How do you hand five pounds to a car? If I had taken my car over to the sign, would someone hand me five pounds? No. 1 daughter seemed to think the sign should have said ‘Hand car wash £5’. By then I had already done far too much thinking and headed for home.

As we’d had quite a busy day we thought a takeaway might be in order - Indian, Chinese, or just good old fish and chips. Then No. 1 daughter pointed out the leaflet she’d picked up for a Hungarian takeaway. Now, I don’t know much about Hungarian cuisine, but I do know they’re supposed to be famous for something called goulash, and I thought that might be rather nice for a change. Sadly, I scanned the menu for this piquant item in vain. I did, however, find the following treats:

Fried Camenbert cheese with rice, served with blueberry souce
Hungarian sausage wraped in port fillett
Fried streaked chicken breast with cheese souce
Gipsy stily pork steak
Grilled pork fillett topped with traditionell Hungarian Lecso served with rosted potato
Crepes filled with creamy popeyseed with cherry souce.

I took a look at their website. Sadly, some of the food looked as if it had already been eaten by someone else. Food porn it wasn’t.

I opened a tin of baked beans.

10 comments:

Ivy Black said...

Sadly, like your good lady, I am a House Porn addict. Start with the soft stuff like the Ikea catalogue and then your on to the hardcore like Elle Decoration. There's no going back....
And as someone who's only had a few sandwiches all day, I could go a Gipsy stily pork steak.
x

chris hale said...

Ivy - Interesting to look at the internet history of a house porn addict - Chair, chair, chair with velvet cushion, chaise longue, standard lamp, faux leather picture frame...I'm sure there must be a law against it.

One gipsy stily pork steak comin' up!

willow said...

Yeah, I would take a can of beans over streaked chicken any day. Tell Mrs. H. I can certainly relate to the house porn. The chunky coffee table legs made me giggle.

Ivy Black said...

Ta, Chris because I'm salavating...perhaps not for the gipsy stily pork but for the thought of cushions. Can't have too many cushions..ask Mrs H!
x

Ivy Black said...

Salivating even. See, I haven't had enough to eat.I'm losing the pour to sllep proberbly.
x

Derrick said...

Most edifying, Chris. Clearly, you have never heard Antonio Carluccio pronounce the word 'sauce'. Your Hungarian friends have it just about right. Pity about the goulash.

chris hale said...

Willow - Honestly! You ladies and your soft furnishings! I have passed on your comments to Mrs. H. I'm currently looking for a support group that can relate to my 'issues'.

Ivy - Cushions! Aargh!

Derrick - I may be mistaken, but I thought I'd heard him say 'sowse-a'. Yes, it is a pity about the goulash; was quite looking forward...

Rallentanda said...

I knew that food would be bad, because of the spelling.I would report that business to the Minister of Education for inciting the corruption of the English language. If you like I can refurbish your entire home in
recycled shabby collage chic for a
few hundred pounds plus two return airline tickets!Show the Mrs. my newly decorated blog site POW
(Poetry On Wednesday) to see if she is interested. Hope you are taking care of thse synthetic kangaroo socks
Cheers
Rall

Rallentanda said...

Oops typo..those..don't want to be in trouble.

chris hale said...

Rall - I'm afraid I'm a terrible pedant when it comes to spelling. But I have tried to soften my attitude to soft furnishings, so I'm having a set of cushion covers made up, based upon the design on those wonderful kangaroo socks.