Friday, 24 May 2013


There's a cold wind blowing down Marylebone High Street, but I can hardly feel it because I have an appointment at Fired Earth to see a kitchen plan the lovely designer has done and so I'm excited.

We sit side by side on stools at a kitchen island in the basement of the shop. Its marble top is cool and grey and beautiful. She shows me a sophisticated 3D image of what the new kitchen might look like. I sip Earl Grey tea. We pore over the design and the catalogue. We look at colour swatches. We compare samples of wood. I feel the grain. She brings out a tile with a glaze so lustrous, it looks exactly as if someone has poured thick farmhouse cream all over it. 
The whole thing is total heaven.

After an hour and a half I come out of Fired Earth back into the cold wind. I cross the road quickly and dive into the Conran shop. I stroke a long wooden kitchen table top with a ludicrous price tag of £5,000. I take photographs of hanging pendant lights with my iPhone. I touch the soft, deep wool rugs that hang side by side by the wall.

I leave the Conran shop and pop along to Skandium. I leaf through wallpaper samples and ask them if they'll order me one, just to see. It has foliage in blues and greens with bright orange and yellow flowers in between. It's £75 a roll.

I go into Divertimenti and look at the hand painted crockery like the set I have at home. Azure paint strokes, fat red plums, swirling chicken motifs - it's as if the warm Italian sunshine is bouncing off each plate and cup and bowl. The largest bowl is £75. I head back for the Tube.

It's so bitter that I stop to do up both my cardigan and my jacket and get out my scarf and gloves. Then I walk briskly, as all the while cosy images of my possible future New England-style kitchen play out in my head.

At Bond Street Tube I dodge the milling crowd at the entrance, heading for the left-hand side to descend, just where the sharper gusts of wind catch there on the corner, and nearly trip over something on the ground: it's a boy. 

He's young. No older than my Eldest who is, right this minute, still tucked up in his warm bed at home recovering from his exams and from having a nasty infection.

The boy is huddled. I can almost feel the cold unforgiving ground creeping up through his bones. He has an empty, upturned cap in his hand and a sign that says: 'Hungry and homeless, please help'.
 He looks utterly frozen and so pale that as he looks up, it strikes me his face is the exact same colour as the beautiful creamy tile I held in my hand a short while ago. 

I give him a pound coin from my pocket as I whiz by, and I feel completely ashamed.




  1. Pls excuse the many spelling mistakes that appeared in the first version of this post. I hope I've corrected them all now. Let me know if I haven't. I'm a terrible speller at the best of times but I also had a birthday disco for Youngest at the house today and wrote this in a big hurry. E x

  2. I didn't notice any typos or mistakes.. What a fabulous, thought provoking post