I’m retired.


  1. packed up my home office
  2. caught the bus into town and handed in my swipe card and my work laptop, and
  3. moved across the corridor at home to my writing room again.

It’s good to be back.

This is the room it took me three weeks to repair, repaint and tidy-up last year. Since then it’s been a neat mausoleum to the books we gave away, my once youthful knee cartilage, and in a way our old lives.

This was our bedroom once, when we were young, before we built upstairs.

Since I set up my home office in the spare bedroom six months ago the writing room has mostly been a transition space between the mess upstairs and the mess downstairs, and not much used. As the last room renovated it remains pristine. I’ve passed through it in calm, bewildered awe.

Those days are over. There are cardboard boxes of cookbooks all over the floor now. Our Noritake dining setting is stacked up in a corner. Nina is asleep in an Arras six bottle wine box that she knocked sideways and curled up in.

Sometime in February – date to be confirmed – we’re replacing our 15 year old kitchen. It’s a bit like those rare elections when something happens: the swing is on. Things are happening.

I’m not sure if our house is Tetris or Rubik but it keeps moving.

Robinson has left the kitchen redesign to me – I’m paying for it with my months of toil down the salt mines, stripped to the waist, singing Russian folk songs – and I’ve come up with a genius layout that has almost no cupboards. There’s no room for cookbooks or pots and pans or knives and forks in my new layout. Those kitchens are so passe.

It’s annoyed me forever that our kitchen is the one room in the house that I can’t rearrange. There’s been no room to do anything other than cook meals and wash up. In our new kitchen there’ll be a whole wall with nothing on it (blank canvas!) and nowhere to put anything.

That’s why things are in boxes in the writing room. We’ve already started culling our old lives and preparing for a decade of finger food.

It’ll be like living in a caravan, but with fewer cupboards. And no riverside view.

I’ve decided to include an oven and a kitchen sink, but like a closing down sale in a pandemic everything else must go!

Robinson agrees with me (in a high pitched voice) that there are currently shelves full of blender attachments we’ve never used, too many mugs, too many serving plates and salad bowls (actually she doesn’t agree with that bit), too many graters and cheeseboards (or that bit), too many bottles of olive oil and vinegar and herbs, packs of noodles, passata (ditto).

But battered by 2020, she is practising sufferance and cultivating kindness.

She even bought me underpants online, post-kitchen design, which was a surprise. Then she showed me a review she posted on the purchase site of me and my new underpants. This was spectacularly mad and hilarious and we laughed like people who still have knives and forks. I’m now more or less Marky Mark.

Except my box is full of old vegemite jars we don’t need to store any more.

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