So, it was an email from Keli over at Counterfeit Humans which has sort of prompted this post. I had told her about our new conservatory and she waxed lyrical about whether we played music in there, if it was green and tranquil, and I suddenly realised that as our other reader (number one is me, and thus a Brit) and from 'across the pond', she possibly didn't really know what the British conservatory is for.
Well, as I look out of our bedroom window, I can survey a number of conservatories built onto the back of these 1950s Council-built homes (by the way, I am not a Council House Wallah...these houses were built by the Council for the masses of ICI workers who settled here to mine the salt and create all sorts of chemicals, sodium potash and explosives. You know I am a snob so forgive me, any Council House Wallah who may be reading this post...such as the ex...) and they are built, so it would seem, for two purposes: a) as a bit more space to a potentially cramped house and b) as a sun room (when the bloody sun shines in England, particularly the North West, where the Parsnip family reside, which is privy to the Gulf Stream, bringing rain, drizzle, fog, rain, damp, rain, showers and rain...).
With the installation of Mr Parsnip, my 3-bed semi appeared to be shrinking - he can be a bit larger than life at times - and it was decided that we would either move (bad choice in the current economic climate) or extend. And so, I had these grand ideas that we would have this fantastic, light and airy loft conversion for me and Mr P, with an attic bedroom, spiral staircase up, ensuite bathroom etcetera, etcetera, and up I went into the loft to spec it out, being a builder's ex-wife. When I realised that, even as a pretty tall bird, standing at 5'8" and not being able to straighten my neck, the pitch wasn't quite steep enough, I thought long and hard about extending from the side and building a new 'block' where the outhouses are...until I checked out next door and realised that Jackie would start throwing flaming pasties at my door if I did so - I guess it would have felt like living in a mausoleum to her, so dark it would have become...
I wracked my brains as to how I could handle having three growing people in the house, as well as myself, and not go mental.
And so it was deemed that I would increase my mortgage by an utterly stupid amount and have built the largest conservatory The Conservatory Outlet had ever had commissioned. (And I am not providing them with a link because they screwed me over, for three weeks, on my choice of tiles, so Yah Boo Sucks to You!). The erection, if you will pardon my choice of words, was built with three purposes in mind: an office for Mr Parsnip when he cannot be fagged getting out of bed at 7am to travel ten minutes up the road to his official place of work (which happens on an extremely regular basis); a dining area; and a sanctuary for me, replete with sofa; side tables for my over-flowing ashtrays; lamps by which I can read literature such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Viz Magazine and have a happy, peaceful place.
Initially, building work went according to plan, although I was quite perturbed when I saw the footings which didn't look as though they were going to provide us with the equivalent of three living spaces. But, as they say, never show an idiot a half-finished job, and when the base and brickwork went down, it started to look huge...which prompted daft suggestions from Mr P and #2 daughter of having bloody fish tanks all over the place, forming arches of marine life, giving aquamarine glows at night. And who'd have to clean these sodding fish tanks and feed the bloomin' fish? Me! That's who! As I have to feed Lambert & Butler (rabbits) and muck out Oscar, the new moggy, pretty much every day, I am damned if I am going to clear out Britney, Shenaz, Goldie, Shaniah, Rhianna, 50-Cent, Robbie and Compo while I am at it...
Anyway, the conservatory went up pretty quickly and it wasn't long before we had windows, a roof and doors. The only thing which just didn't seem to happen was the flooring. We were messed around repeatedly by the Outlet and I could tell that the MD was panicking each time I called to ask, in a crystal-cut accent, When Are My Tiles Coming? They did come...eventually...and so it was time to install ourselves.
Mr P took up residence in his 'office' fairly quickly and indeed, if I am looking for him to help me unblock toilets or put lamps together, I am pretty sure I will find him in front of his PC, purporting to work, when really, he is organising his 6000 digital photos into different categories. Only the other day, I found his notes by which he was cataloguing his images and felt quite touched. I stroked his head gently and tenderly coo-ed: Aahh. You're really quite anal, aren't you?
I can also tell when he has been in here as he has shed his hand-rolling tobacco everywhere...It is like having Worzel Gummidge, the TV scarecrow, in here, there is that much dust and baccy lying about. This means more cleaning for me - that is where my anality lies, I am afraid (and no, don't invite me over to clean your house; that line gets used on me way too many times for it to be funny any more). I have to keep a clean and tidy house. And I object to it being crapped up when I have been on my hands and knees scrubbing, in between bouts of being a domestic Goddess and baking all sorts of fattening delights. So, you can imagine my dismay last night when I discovered that the kitten, Oscar, had decided to use the brand new conservatory rug as his litter tray. It wasn't a decent, 'dry' one, either. It was revolting and made me gip somewhat dramatically.
Mr P banished the moggy to the kitchen (wherein lay his litter tray) and told him that he was A Bad Cat. The kitten mewed plaintively at him, attempted to climb his trouser leg (reminiscent of a humping dog) and was promptly ignored. #2 daughter was almost beside herself with angst. So we asked how she would feel if one of us took a dump on her pillow.
She soon came round to our way of thinking...
My haven hasn't come to fruition as of yet. I have the window ledges bedecked in candles and a candelabra which decided to splatter wax ALL OVER THE BLOODY TILES last night. I will generally iron anything that comes to hand, but I have never spent an hour ironing ceramic tiles and I hope never to have to do it again.
I also awake every morning to Fly Heaven. I have started calling the place Pet Cemetary there are that many dead things to walk in to. A few weeks ago, sick and tired of vacuuming the carcasses from the window ledge, I squirted some Big D Fly Killer all over the place and sent #1 in, replete with Hoover and gas mask to do it for me. Within minutes, she was squealing like a gurlie poof that the flies were 'still buzzing in the vacuum cleaner...Urrrgggghhhh!'
I found that divine retribution, actually, since I feel the same revulsion when I have to collect her skanky undies, which she has surreptitiously (lazily?) stuffed down the side of her dressing table, for the wash...
So, it's not quite my sanctuary yet. I am still waiting for Mr P's leather sofa to come up once he gets the removal men in to clear out his house which is now, thankfully, in the process of being sold (touch wood!) and then I am going to ensure that I possess the only key to the conservatory doors so that I can block out spotty belligerent teenagers and baccy-shedding husbands. I shall smile and wave at them from the far end when they are clamouring to get to me and pester me with demands for cake, drinks, talks and sex (the girls don't request the latter from me, I hasten to add...) and shall claim profound deafness. I shall keep a loaded wine rack next to the settee, a healthy (is this an oxymoron?) supply of cigarettes and have some soppy Don Williams or the theme from Local Hero playing. I shall become maudlin and tearful, bemoaning my mis-spent yoof, and thoroughly enjoy myself!
So yes, Keli, perhaps the images you have of our conservatory are not that far off the mark?