THWACK! CLUNK! WHOMP!
No sign of Batman knocking seven bells out of some super-villain, just the sound of really thick wine glasses being knocked together in my kitchen a few years ago.
My cupboard was filled with glasswear from IKEA. You know the things. Triple glazed and aquarium-density, made to bounce off window sills and other people and of course, to last a lifetime. Or at least the length of a happy Scandinavian marriage (47.5 years, if you’re a stats fan).
Unfortunately, something in me broke that night (not the indestructible glasses themselves). I call it my Non-Crystal Nacht.
No longer could I tolerate the thick rims and stout stems. The glasses suddenly seemed clumsy and inappropriate. I could sense the expensive wine I was pouring into them wincing as it slid down the sides.
The wine, distressed as it was, wasn’t wincing as hard as the guest who’d brought it as a gift. His grimace would have given The Joker a run for his money .
And I totally got it. All of a sudden. I was drenched in shame.
I’m pretty sure this is a sign of my having entered Executive Youth.
When I left home I couldn’t wait to load up with IKEA goodies. Oh the Billy bookcases I have put together! The Hemnes beds I have wrestled in!
I’m still awash with tea lights I bought in 1993 for Christ’s sake!
Back then the store spoke to me of Scandinavian chic, of simplicity and style, minimalism and ingenious storage solutions. Hell, I hadn’t even acknowledged I had a storage problem to solve.
IKEA made my home look modern and deceptively spacious. Plus, because there were so few of the stores around back then, visitors to the house would not only admire the furniture but also me because they knew what toil it was to make the pilgrimage along the Purley Way to the Croydon store.
Those who had also worshipped at the blue and yellow temple knew what stresses I would have endured, obliged as I was, to shop there in the school holidays.
They understood how it came to pass that I drove off in the van I’d hired specially, without actually having loaded the mattress I’d bought. (I hope the persons unknown who picked it up from the loading area got lots of happy use out of its resilient foam; they seriously owe me one.)
But there comes a point in one’s life where one puts away childish things. For which read: ‘advertises IKEA stuff on the local Freecycle site’ in favour of buying proper grown-up stuff.
Friends, I have split with the Swede.
I’ve had enough of his cheery, cheap, stylishly functional but totally prolific gear. I have started walking the wrong way through the shop.
I eschew the Cath Kidston inspired duvet covers, the Ercol referencing chairs and the graphic rugs.
I don’t want to recognise my own bedding on shows like Celebrity Big Brother.
It is over.
The wine glasses were the start of something.
Yes, they hold wine. Yes, you can drink out of them. But drinking wine has become more than a function for me, it has become an event.
The younger me would have drunk pretty much anything from pretty much any vessel (please don’t ask me to recall my airline leaving do in ‘Father’s Moustache’, Durban, where the ‘sharing glass’ was contributed to by all the drinkers in the bar and then downed by me in twenty-three seconds). But the older me, the one who’s worked out which wines she likes, the one who only drinks three nights a week because she’s obsessed with liver disease, the one who loves that first glass on an empty stomach…. She wants to drink good wine from an elegant glass. Preferably crystal.
I think I may have been influenced by Alicia Florrick in ‘The Good Wife’. At the end of a tough day fighting for justice and combatting political corruption, Alicia pours herself a large glass of red wine. She drinks it with evident and unashamed pleasure.
I love her. As I pour a good Cabernet Sauvignon into my John Jenkins I imagine we are drinking together. I toast her silently.
My glasswear thing has grown into a preoccupation. I’m collecting antique crystal champagne coupes and tulip glasses.
The only problem is, now that I’ve given away my Hemnes kitchen cabinet, I’ve nowhere to bloody store them…