Let me take you back a few years - okay, so slightly more than a few years - to a primary school in North Yorkshire.
Here is a newly built low level school, with bright modern classrooms, set in the middle of a huge open playing field, backing on to rolling farm land, on the edge of a rapidly expanding village.
Look closer. There's a little girl taking off her coat, hanging it on the peg with her name above it. Can you see? She's skinny, with blonde-ish hair, which is rapidly disappearing but it was there when she was a toddler, and she's rushing straight for the Home Corner.
Remember those? They were usually next to the Interest Table, the one that had the ubiquitous feather on it, sitting next to a couple of shiny stones and a bird's nest with a broken blue speckled egg that somebody found on the way to school and brought in.
All the items on the Interest Table in that classroom have folded card labels to say what they are. Not that the little skinny girl rushing to the Home Corner can read what the labels say yet because she's in Reception, and only four years old, and she's not one of the early readers who arrived at school a few weeks ago already able to devour the entire series of Janet and John in one sitting.
Oh no, this little girl hasn't got time for reading anyway, she's only interested in getting to the Home Corner before anyone else so she can tidy it up, make it look pretty, and make pretend tea while bossing the others about.
Surprising isn't it? Because of course you've guessed who the little girl is. She's me.
Fast forward a few years - okay, so more than a few years - and that little girl is going to come out of the closet and admit something (it's a very tidy closet). Here we go...
My name is Elizabeth and I am... wait for it, wait for it... house-proud. That's right, I'll just type that again in case you missed it: HOUSE-PROUD.
So here we are in 2013, in south London, and the little girl isn't skinny anymore, she's not even a little girl anymore, but she tries her best to keep middle-age spread at bay with exercise and lots of walking and sorts out the no-longer-blonde hair thing with the aid of her cheque book and a whole bunch of chemicals.
In other ways she hasn't changed that much at all. She's still in the Home Corner a lot of the time and if it's a mess, which it invariably is, it still makes her crazy. She's still bossing people about when she can get away with it and she's constantly tidying, lining up shoes, re-plumping cushions and, most of all, sweeping the floor. She likes a place for everything and everything in its place.
She finds it hard to sit still and work at her desk in the office (she did learn to read and write eventually) when the Home Corner is still throbbing with wet towels and toast crumbs all around her, but she does this when she must.
To be honest, a lot of the time she thinks it might be nice just to go and live by herself back in that primary school Home Corner in North Yorkshire.
Now, I'm not dim (I'm going to drop the third person here because it's getting weird and I'm beginning to sound like Margaret Thatcher), I know that busy modern women are not meant to confess to this sort of thing. Not educated so-called 'professional' ones anyway. But to be honest - and that's what I always try to be - all my life I've wanted to play house, to make my home look pretty and tidy, and so I offer the Home Corner anecdote by way of explanation - and a sort of apology.
But why should I apologise? I've decided I don't care if it's somehow anti-feminist to say that I like to keep a nice house, so I'm outing myself. I am what I am (to coin a phrase) and home-making is a massive part of my make-up and, I would imagine, a massive part of a lot of other women's make-up as well, and even some men's, but not, I regretfully hasten to add, the ones I live with.
I don't understand how, somewhere along the line, being 'house-proud' became a pejorative term, associated with small-minded bourgeois stupidity. I don't see why it should be. I can be as intellectual as the next woman (well, maybe not!) but I also want to have a nice, tidy and, crucially, fully decorated and finished house.
So, this brings us bang up to date, to April 2013, and the question of our kitchen...
our knackered stair carpet,
and the peeling paintwork on the outside of the house,
to all the things in our home that have not yet been 'done' in fact, or not done to my satisfaction anyway, since we moved in six years ago.
Wanting it all sorted and decorated is not an icing on the cake thing for me. It's not something that's sort of or vaguely important. It's something that matters A LOT.
And not because I want to show off or keep up with the Janet and Johns, but because to have a nice finished house will make me happy. It's something I have been craving ever since I walked into that Home Corner and started to sort out that plastic mismatched tea set back in 1970-(cough)-something.
Why am I telling you this? Because we are about to go on a journey together, you and I, dearly beloved blog reader. Finally I have the go-ahead from Husband for a new kitchen (and if ever there was an anti-feminist line that is it). He has conceded that, yes, it is cold and dark and in need of updating. The lean-to conservatory type arrangement that the previous owners, in their infinite wisdom, attached to the back of the kitchen/house is not fit for purpose. It is rotten and draughty and must be replaced. Plus I want to knock down the side wall and build into the side return and add roof windows.
So, we are getting the builders in this summer (if I can find some). We have put in the planning application. We have talked to the neighbours and, most importantly, I have made a mood board full of swatches of Boho-syle wallpaper, like the type Sophie Dahl had in the kitchen in her cookery series a while back, plus Brasserie light fittings and natty shelves.
Here it is...
And here are some more pictures that have inspired me...
So hold on to your hat, dear reader, because I think we might be in for a very bumpy ride.
See you soon!
I want wallpaper in my kitchen somewhere - a bit like that!