Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Cupboard Love

I have a serious cupboard obsession. I want cupboards so bad, I dream about them. When visiting friends, I only want to talk about cupboards: exactly how many they have, and were they self assembled. I have become ‘That Scary Cupboard Woman,’ with bizarre and slightly disturbing fantasies about fitted wardrobes.

In my one bedroom newbuild, there is a closet for the boiler, meters, and fuse box, which heats everything stored inside to just above blood temperature. Foolishly and in desperation, I keep my vinyl there. I had no choice really, and I now fully expect my precious records to look and sound like Dali’s dream clocks.

I need bigger kitchen cupboards, but the mass purchase, one-size-for-all- unit is tiny. I have no space to keep much food, or store pans. This oversight wakes me bolt upright, screaming in the night. There’s not even a bathroom cabinet, as they are classed as non essential. Imagine guests greeted by haemorrhoid cream, diarrhoea tablets and intimate deodorant (not that I possess those items - honest - but you get my drift).

H had a basement in her house. She could never cherish it as I would. I crave a basement, or an attic. I can actually get quite wistful; just imagine, no boxes, nothing strewn around your home. I would spend time in that basement. I would love it, as it deserves to be loved. In fact I’d worship it like a god. I would install a shrine dedicated to: ‘Stuff’.

Without cupboards, you can’t economise and buy in bulk – even a bargain bumper pack of toilet roll is a major space devouring purchase, stored by necessity in the lounge, which is inconvenient in so many ways.

I am compulsive about chucking things out. There’s nothing I like better than empty floor space. I keep all my belongings boxed up in the ‘hall,’ as there’s nowhere else. It makes me feel temporary, like I’m passing through, or as if I can never stick around.

A growing pile of papers, and general stuff waits menacingly at one end of my lounge/kitchen/diner/entire life. I know I have to clear it up, for the sake of my own sanity, but where will it go? It’s already moved once of its own accord, and now it’s looming over me. I shift it regularly from one room to the next, sorted, sifted and reduced, like a creeping glacier of filing with no place to be filed.

Society is increasingly acquisitive. We need little encouragement to accumulate huge amounts of general ephemera, even with nowhere to store it. Why do urban dwellers need less space? We are the big consumers, the generation with books, clothes, CD’s, kitchen gizmos, and piles of general things.

Could architects and developers please grasp this salient fact: if they persist in shrinking flats, we will have nowhere to spread out, inspect and air our lives. It’s sad, but in Dovecot Towers, a cargo cult has emerged. We dance wildly and sacrifice goats to honour the great God of MFI, hoping that - in His infinite mercy - He will send us manna, and cupboards.



We have a void: an area we planned behind the (backless) wardrobes in a peculiar place where we can keep old tins of paint, suitcases, spare tiles, some Christmas decorations, odd shoes, a saw, some skis, the back tray from a VW Golf, a 14" square of melamined chipboard, a sports holdall containing around 100 unloved CDs, an atlas of the world, one empty tin of matt varnish, one unknown black item made of plastic that looks like it is an essential part of something else and an empty box. It's like Narnia meets Steptoe & Son. And I know just how lucky we are. x

Anonymous said...

Again, it's easy to pick fault - and yes, I agree that the flats which are being built are tiny - but what's the alternative?

What do you suggest as an alternative?

I'm sure you'll shout "Let us live in big houses near parks and we can have a drive for our cars and we can easily escape to the countryside"... except there will be no countryside left because it will be covered in large houses with drives and gardens...

There are 60 million people in the UK, and that is growing due to immigration and a rising fertility rate. In order to sustain the growing economy (which is, as you point out, based on consumption), we need more people to buy the endlessly regurgitated crap that litter the small flats you describe- clothes, CDs, magazines, food, gadgets, plane tickets, white goods, more white goods to replace the broken white goods as we don't (can't) get anything repaired anymore.

Again, I agree with your posts entirely - but the problems you're experiencing are part of a wider economic and social trend. Zygmunt Bauman calls it "Liquid Modernity" which affects our relationships, cities, jobs, moods and much more. Essentially it's about the ephemeral, the easily replaced, the short-term. It's also about the ersatz - simulations, hype over substance, image over reality, doing rather than being.

So as well as griping about cupboards and deposits (which does make interesting reading) how about pitting your brains towards a few solutions?

renter said...

Hmm. what would I do? If I was ana arhcitect, developer, or landlord, with choices, I would design flats with peoples needs and lifestyles in mind, not solely on the basis of economy. A Utility room, a pictire rail, some inbuilt cupboards, efficient soundproofing and a more 'human' design aesthetic (which might encourage people to speak - and I do speak to my neighbours) would help. But what do I know? I just pay hufe amounst of rent to live in those places...