So today I tried to buy some curtains……. or something. Never again.

Let’s assume optimistically that seven years is 1/8 th of my life. For those who don’t know me, I have spent the last seven years living in a goldfish bowl.

I am speaking metaphorically, obviously, but the house is open to some degree on all sides. The front door and porch are clear glass, my bedroom window (downstairs) is clear glass. The back door (overlooked by neighbours) is clear glass and to add insult to injury there’s a window looking onto the side path owned by my neighbours. The result is that unless you’re upstairs there could be someone looking at you at any one time. Now this isn’t appealing, well, ever, really, but after seven years I had got sick of not being able to pretend that we weren’t in and knowing that the chances of being spotted looking like the Wild Woman of Borneo in my dressing gown were something approaching 100%. I happened to have separated from my husband by this time and money was not something I had the pleasure of owning. So in absolute despair one day I ordered the cheapest plastic coating to put onto glass known to man. Honestly, this stuff is really awful. It makes me giggle just writing about it.

It’s that stuff that you often find on GPs windows. It does the trick all right but it looks hideous. And that’s if you apply it to the window correctly. Unfortunately, when my ex-boyfriend and I decided to administer this stuff we had had a drink or four and neither of us (he didn’t) read the instructions. It was straightforward – it just had to be smoothed on gently and evenly.

The first thing we (he) did was cut it to the wrong size. The next thing that we (he) did wrong was not to paint the surface with water. So ever so carefully we smoothed on this thin film of plastic that you would cover schoolbooks in with the same care and attention that Michelangelo gave to his ceiling. We were then woken in the night by the sound of four strips of plastic falling down. They had literally peeled off like burnt skin. So we read the instructions and discovered that water had to be used as some kind of adhesive; you applied it to the surface first and……etc., etc., etc. I can’t be bothered to write it. The end result is the entire porch is now covered with some godawful, horribly bubbled plastic. It looks truly horrendous and it was not improved by my discovery that my younger daughter had taken to peeling down a corner of it to see out because she was used to it. Now one corner is permanently peeled down which we all use to see in and out. Mission wasted and I am seriously considering offering my house as a location for Shameless.

Fast forward to today and I decide that the time has come now to limit the direct view into my bedroom; I’m starting to expect complaints about not providing seats and popcorn. We were out already and I decided to pop into the curtain shop. Not for curtains, you understand, because I have those, but a blind, or some plastic – whatever. Very quickly I found a Venetian hardwood blind, and very quickly I also realised that I had no measurements. Ah. Bugger. I was going to buy it anyway, but the combination of the measurement thing and me not owning a drill to affix the blasted thing to the wall with meant that I changed my mind. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a single person who would willingly allow me to use their drill. Even on my own house.

So off we potter to the net curtain section, my little girl and I. It isn’t called that but it may as well have been. This time, I requested help and the first thing she asked me was “What measurements have you got?” Well, I hadn’t, so I said as much and then as her face fell I had a brainwave.

“You know a King size bed?”


“Well, that size. But a bit longer.”

She looked at me doubtfully but we went over to the panel section and she bid me choose the right width and drop. And, she kept reminding me, I needed to make sure that the pattern I wanted was available in the right size. Which pattern did I want? I didn’t care a jot which pattern I had at this stage, if it was in the right size I’d have it. The lady, who looked about one hundred years old kept muttering things like “90in….6 foot…..”. In the end I had to be honest and admit that my maths skills don’t equal hers. Ultimately, I chose three panels of material, two in one pattern and one in another because there weren’t any of the first left, but I don’t think she saw.

“Now, I just need something to attach it,” I announced grandly. The lady produced a pole which we thought was OK and then realised that it couldn’t be fitted to a ceiling. So instead I went with this thing which was about £2 and presented itself as a ‘twist and grip stick’ which essentially you just wedge against the ceiling and hope for the best. Suited me. Sounds a bit like my life.

So we arrive back home and on I get with the job in hand. Firstly, I had to identify the correct length for the pole, which was quite easy. Then to attach the panels. Honestly, I swear, I tried. I really tried. I looked at every end, stitch, inch of material but I could not see any way of getting the pole inside the space it was meant for. None. Half an hour I puzzled and prodded and picked and poked for. Half an hour scrutinising the instructions to see if I’d missed some magic trick. But nothing. So in the end I cut a hole where I thought there should be one and shoved the pole through. Repeat three times, and then the last panel was a different style and the openings were already there. Completely obvious. So I now have butchered panels of material which will eventually unravel under their own, feathery weight one day. Marvellous.

Once the panels were attached, then came the job of fixing the pole onto the wall. Well, I huffed and I puffed but just when I’d got one end into place then the other would slide out of view as frustratingly as a baby’s head back into the birth canal. And only mildly less painfully, I imagine. Eventually I acquired a chair and managed to get the thing in place, at vast cost to my arm muscles. But I’d done it! It was up!  Except, when I took a step back and actually assessed it properly, it does not look like the flowy-curtains of exorbitantly expensive Keira Knightly perfume adverts. Oh no, my bedroom now looks like something resembling a gypsy’s boudoir. Find me my cloak and my crystal ball.

And that’s it, DIY is not my forte and I give up with trying to prevent people from looking in.  Because whatever they see looking in is going to be far more attractive than anything I can see looking out.

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