Every time I go to one of those gift shops that look and smell amazing, you know, the ones with scented jasmine candles, strings of painted wooden hearts and Emma Bridgewater pottery, I start imagining that with a little work, my home could look just like that - full of desirable objects, ordered, stylish, clean and tidy and of course artistically stimulating. What a life that would be.
I sometimes buy something just to kick start the process, like a lime green teapot with just the right metal insert and lid, purchased during a recent gift shop experience. It could also have been a framed print of a Beatrix Potter mouse, a £70 scarf or a dozen important looking books about art, all of which would have made my life complete, but inevitably there's always a budget.
Of course it's no good coming home and just plonking it down on a surface; the surface has to be cleared of biology homework, unopened bills and breakfast cereal crumbs first, with a cloth. But the cloth is manky, so better clean that first, or better, bleach it and find a fresh one from the cupboard.
Underfoot the floor is covered in bits. Find the hoover; no suction; the hoover is blocked; empty the hoover bag over my hand; clean the filter. Hoover now working. Use hoover. Now the kitchen floor has no bits, wipe kitchen floor. Now the cupboards need a wipe too. Someone has left out half their lunch and the washing up needs doing. The once beautiful handmade papier mache fruit bowl (from a gift shop) is looking sad and dusty. Everything looks dusty. The perfect home (and life) is not magically materialising around the lime green, gift shop tea pot.
Come to think of it, it's the second green teapot we've had: the other one (from a gift shop) was all funky glass and metal. The metal bit rusted and the lid expanded in the heat and got permanently stuck.
Maybe Jesus knew a thing or two when he refused to turn the stones into bread. Bread perishes. You can't live by bread alone and you can't fundamentally change much in your life by applying gift shop mentality.