I am such a colossal ninny.
When The Man and I separated we were at the end of a twelve year renovation. Within a whisker of everything being completely finished. All that needed to be done was to install an efficient heating system, and build some shelves in the tiny ground-floor study. The Man had been meaning to build those shelves for, oh, maybe a year. But his stressful job and our stressful relationship kind of got in the way. Eventually, as everything irrevocably fell apart, we realised that The Man was never going to build those shelves, so I had a joinery firm we had used before come and measure up to do the job.
The nice young man came and asked me what I wanted, and I told him. Then I forgot all about it and he went away for three months because they 'had a lot of jobs on' as these firms inexplicably always seem to do when you want them. Then the shelves turned up in a van the other morning, and another nice young man started putting them up.
I popped downstairs after about half an hour to see how things were going. Now this is the point where I should have looked at the monstrosity he had put up on my wall, when it was held in by a mere half dozen screws, and shrieked, 'Good God, that is hideous. Take it down right now and put up the simple shelves I thought I asked for.'
Instead of which I squeaked, 'Oh yes, that looks so good,' and went back upstairs and kicked the wall. Truth is, I suffer from Over-the-Top Politeness Syndrome. Think Hugh Grant, but female, and less charming, and more like a prim librarian. I do not make fusses. I hate to hurt peoples' feelings. I am crippled by a sense of social awkwardness where I am afraid I might offend a stranger. I am the person who says, 'Sorry,' when someone else steps on my toes.
I was incapable of sending that poor young man back to his workshop with an unwanted, hideous set of shelves because he must have worked SO hard to make them. So I just let him put them up, and I will hate them forever and grin and bear it, because that is also what I do. Because clearly it was my fault. I must have said 'yes' when the nice young man proposed this monstrosity because I often say 'yes' to tradies, just to make them go away. In fact, I said 'yes' to the vision in my head where there were more shelves, narrower and closer together, but we only ever talked about it, and I never saw a visual representation. I am a very visual person. I should NEVER say 'yes' to something I have only heard about, with measurements I somehow agreed to without seeing what they would look like..
Aargh, I am so very spineless, with not a determined, predatory bone in my body. By the time the nice young man had spent some hours hammering fillers into the side of the shelves to jam them between the walls, and nicely puttied up the screw holes and filled all the cracks around the edge, it was Too Late to stop being a jellyfish. I waved off the nice young man and glumly started under-coating the hateful shelves, absolutely furious at myself for not being able to make a decent A-grade fuss about things I am not happy about.
I have stared down the beastly things for two days now as I paint them. If this were a novel or a movie, this would be the moment that I would take a sledge hammer to them, crash them down and build the shelves I want with my own two bare hands. This is not a novel or a movie. I have reluctantly conceded that the shelves look marginally better now they are white rather than dreadful MDF brown. I cannot stand the thought of the mess, the cost and the fuss of ripping them down and getting something else put in its place. The tiny traitorous thought has occurred to me that being so incredibly large and over-engineered, I can store every single homeless item in the house on those shelves. Practicality has won over indignation. But the indignation is still there. Every time I look at those shelves a tiny flame of indignation is fanned. I will not always be a jellyfish. I will find out what I really want. I will ask for it very clearly. And if I don't get it, I will absolutely, positively almost certainly say, 'Excuse me, um, there seems to be a, um problem with this thingy that, but, well yes, it seems it is not quite what I um.... want. After all. Sorry.'
I will be like Arthur Dent after he has worked up a real head of steam. I will be Unstoppable!!
The hideous bank of shelves which look like they belong in an accountant's office. Actually, they do look marginally better now they are painted white.
The simple plank shelves on the other side of the room which I like. I thought I had asked for more of the same on the other wall, only longer and thinner, but clearly not... I also took the opportunity to paint some baskets white while I had the paint out.
The best thing about my study is the view. It is the only room in the house which looks out at the garden from ground level.
Artichokes and bottlebrush and the pink flowers my mother calls kiss-me-quick. Their official name is centrathus ruber, but that is boring.
All the cups of tea, lined up in prim librarian style. The girls keep bringing them down to me. I think they are worried about the constant, slightly mad muttering coming from inside the study..