Leaving Oxford in 100 blog posts: 1. Curtains
We may have sold our house. I say 'may' because we have accepted a low offer from our potential buyers, and they are doing a full structural survey. Who knows what further wranglings may result, even if I believe (as I do) that the faults of the house are as visible as its glories.
But we're far enough down the track to have instructed a solicitor. She was recommended by a friend who is also a solicitor. You may never be able to get an electrician if you're middle class, but you can source good conveyancing within minutes. And now we have forms to fill in, many many forms.
One of them is about fixtures and fittings. What is included in the sale? We get to tick and cross boxes (including putting prices on things we are prepare to leave but only if they are prepared to pay for them), and then if the buyers disagree (or want to haggle over a price) we negotiate via our instructed third parties. This seems potentially confrontational to me, and I'm not in the mood. And who'd take *light fittings* with them anyway?
So basically, my first thought was that I'd just tick everything. But then I got to the curtains.
We only have three pairs of curtains. Two of them I could happily never see again. But the ones in the living room are different. We bought them at Seasons Furnishings in Delhi in January 2003, a shop recommended by Plumbing S which was the devil to get to, not because it's hard to find, but because it's hard to find a rickshaw driver who will take you to a curtain shop that isn't owned by his cousin.
When we got there, M realised he'd forgotten to bring the window dimensions. So we used their phone to call the UK, woke up then-housemate S at 7 am, and made her get up and measure the window. She was really pleased about that.
It took us about 30 seconds to agree on the fabric, a deep red raw silk that we both loved on sight, and the deal was done. On the way back to our hotel we stopped in a market to buy shawls and eat momos from a street seller. It was chilly, we were happy, and the curtains were delivered to us two days later as promised, just before we were due to leave for the airport to fly home.
The red curtains have not been an unqualified success. They came with the cheapest, flimsiest possible curtain hooks, which we a) had to insert ourselves, and we did a bad job and b) have never got round to replacing. They fall out regularly and the curtains droop off the rail. They aren't very warm in the winter. And most pertinently, raw silk is a terrible choice of fabric for south-facing windows. The edges of both curtains have faded and shredded. We swap them round every couple of years (while still not replacing the hooks) to try and mitigate the worst of it, but they are basically now shabby chic, without that much of the chic.
But I love those curtains. And they're coming with us.
NB The photo above was taken in 2004. That coffee table is no more (M put his foot through it one New Year's Eve), but the curtains look much the same on a sunny Sunday morning.