Since moving house I have become a little obsessed with home interiors - ohmygod, I'm turning into one of those men from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It all started with
three months ago with a trip to Ocean in Manchester, and since then I've gone mad over their giant suede floor seats, curved white minimalist vases, computer workstations that hide themselves into cubes when no-one's using them and beech bedroom furniture. My home has become a shrine to Ocean: tasteful, clutter-free, with feature walls, pictures in anti-glare frames and vast windows looking onto lanscaped garden. I've become one of the happy people you see in magazines.
But it didn't stop there. One too many visits to expensive hotels has resulted in me not just making my bed in the normal way (e.g. pulling the duvet across it), but folding a colourful blanket across the bottom and propping up coloured suede cushions against the pillows. I have started buying Home Interior magazines, grouping candles in threes in my living room and discussing the pros and cons of plain or patterned carpets with anyone who'll listen. Did you know that you're supposed to have 4 types of lighting in your bathroom? Yes, four! Natural light, task lighting, ambient lighting and spot lights. I only have two! What am I to do.
The ultimate in interior design, and my current Goddess is Ms Naomi Cleaver (name tells all) - she has a big blonde stylish bun in her hair, a selection of tasteful overcoats and a received pronunciation British accent that can summon up unseen depths of disgust when saying words like "suburban", "cream" and "beige" (three things she hates). Naomi presents "Other People's Houses" - a rather cruel programme where she follows the travails of various people who wish to redesign their homes. Naomi offers advice (which they rarely take) and them jumps in during the last reel of film to tell them exactly how they've cocked up, ripping their dream homes to bits with lines like "Your bedroom reminds me of a processed cheese sandwich/novetly Homer Simpson tie/carehome". Her catchphrases include "It's not my cup of tea" and "But they love it, so that's what counts." She likes bold statements and authentic retro houses, so I'm sure she'd turn her perfect nose up at my boring sofa which doesn't curve round a corner and clashes with my carpet. That's the trouble with caring about your house. It's never good enough. I know it won't bring me happiness. But it'll at least bring the appearance of happiness. And in today's surface-obsessed culture, where happiness doesn't really exist anyway, that's all that counts.