Never turn your back on builders. I only nipped out to walk the dog. I was barely gone half an hour. When I left I had one good room. The spare room. The only nice room in the house. I really love the only nice room in the house. I love the jasmine white walls, the beige carpet, the peaceful spotlighting, the satin curtains, the silk cushions, the newly fitted wardrobes. I keep it meticulously tidy because it is all I have got to show so far for my six-week-long renovations. The rest of the place looks like a bomb has hit it. The spaniel and I curl up on my overpriced Ikea day bed in the only nice room in the house and dare to dream.
‘One day, Cydney,’ I tell the spaniel as she snoozes, ‘it will all be like this. One day, everything will be jasmine white and beige, you wait and see.’
The spaniel opens one eye and looks ironically at me as if to say, ‘You’re deluded. I’ve seen the Albanians knocking ten bells out of the electric wiring. We’ll be lucky if we get out of this alive, never mind beige.’
Every time I leave the house, I shut the door of the only nice room in the house carefully and lay a sheet outside so that no brick dust can find its way in. I did this as usual as I left the house to walk the dog. But when we came back the spare room door was open. The nervous builder called Ben, who has very little English, had dismantled the day bed, hacked a metre-long channel in the bottom of the jasmine white wall and was, as Cydney and I stood there with our mouths wide open in horror, pulling a length of cabling out.