On a Personal Note: Yellow wallpaper.

So we moved, about six miles down the valley, to a slightly bigger village, and I am quite giddy with excitement. Granted, it’s not exactly Berlin, but it does have many features that mark it out as a veritable metropolis: butchers, bakers, a bookshop, even a post office that opens on Mondays and an ice-cream parlour. I can hardly contain myself. One day, when Having Time and Having Good Weather coincide, I shall probably make a video. YouTube’s ten-minute maximum will be stretched to the very limit.

The house is large and we have it all to ourselves, the entire top floor dedicated to being my office. This is a Good Thing in many ways, the most important being that I can now work in peace. At least in theory; a little while ago she waited until I came home and fired up the computer to burst in wielding a Dustbuster. She then proceeded to hoover the keyboard, apparently under the impression that doing so would cure a sticky spacebar.

But generally speaking, I am now free from having to process complex financial information while I am up to my metaphorical elbows in some knotty cross-browser compatibility issue. My wife can very effectively scupper my concentration by the simple trick of firing a whole string of numbers at me and expecting me to make sense of them.

Test your marriage

Still, one thing I have learned is that if you are brave enough to want to test the strength of your marriage, you can do so by moving to a new home, preferably one that needs extensive redecoration. I think the fact that neither of us particularly enjoys DIY (that’s “home improvement” if you’re American) may have been a strong factor in the high incidence of raised voices, but in my wife’s case, merely being female is enough.

Let me give you an example. My sister-in-law and I had just finished wallpapering the living room. To this end, we had used the wallpaper my wife had carefully selected without any input from either of us as being ideal for the living room. We had just completed the job and were standing back to admire our handiwork. My wife came in.

“It’s yellow,” she said, which was undeniably true. But of course, the manner in which she said it set my matrimonial alarm bells ringing: something was Wrong, with a capital W. Well, I concurred and said that the wallpaper was, indeed, yellow. I had no choice, really.

“I don’t like yellow wallpaper,” said my wife.


We’ll ignore the fact that my wife moved heaven and earth to get a very specific shade of yellow for the kitchen (a colour she now refuses to acknowledge is yellow, in complete defiance of all available data), because, in the universe she inhabits, this is irrelevant. Let us instead list her objections to this wallpaper:

  • It is yellow.
  • It is boring.
  • It is yellow.
  • It is ugly.
  • It is yellow.
  • Did I mention the colour?

It was around this point that I and my sister-in-law noticed a distinct pattern emerging. And our mistake was to try to reason with her.

She pointed out that it glowed most pleasingly in the evening sunshine. I pointed out that one wall is nearly all window, two walls would be completely covered in bookshelves and stuff, and we had enough posters to cover the fourth wall. She pointed out that it the colour suited the room.

But it’s yellow.

And this is the refrain that echoes through the house every time my wife goes into the living room: “It’s yellow.”

The Jungle Blog

To compensate, my wife has decided to install a rainforest. This seems to be a common problem among German wives and girlfriends; I know that Mil Millington of Things My Girlfriend and I have Argued About had a similar problem.

The fact that we took great care to move all of the greenery from our old place to the new one (accompanied by her worrying about where the heck we were going to put them all) hasn’ deterred her from importing vast new plants of various leafy pedigree from local supermarkets and gardening stores. I think her goal must be to turn the house into a biosphere: I have nightmares about waking up to find myself hermetically sealed within the house which is floating about in deep space, reminiscient of Silent Running.

Of course, since the living room is not quite finished yet, she hasn’t put any plants there yet. Instead, I have them up here in my office, so I have now had to purchase a machete so I can hack my way through the jungle to my desk. I am sure there is something big and carnivorous in there somewhere, so in the event it gets me (assuming it can find its way), thank you for all your support through the years, and it was nice knowing you.

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