If you ask me, I would like to ask you: would you mind if, from now on, we only talk in Farrow & Ball?
I could kick us off, if you like, by saying Elephant’s Breath and Mizzle and Mouse’s Back and, if you have your wits about you, you could come back with Dimity or Incarnadine or, perhaps, any of the whites that aren’t just white but may be All White or Wimborne White or White Tie or House White or Lime White, at which point I may have to give up, as there are more Farrow & Ball whites than anyone can reasonably be expected to get their head round.
I have never, ever home decorated before, but then our son let slip his friends call our house “the squat”, and as I was getting kind of fed up of the oven that would only stay shut if you shoved a chair against it anyway, I actually Got The Builders In, who’ve so far cost me £30,000 in tea, coffee and biscuits, and now they want to know what colour I wish to paint the kitchen, on top of all the other decisions I’ve already made! Don’t they realise I was up until 4.45am Googling the lights that turned out to be out of stock? Don’t they realise that, when I’m not Googling lights, I’m waking in the middle of the night thinking taps? Don’t they realise that, after years of sneering at Living Etc and Elle Decoration and Suzanne, whose “effortlessly stylish home” has involved joining the cottage to the stable block via a glass and polished concrete extension – what exactly is your definition of effortless, Suzanne? – that I may be going down this route and there may be no return, particularly as I am now fluent in Farrow & Ball?
I was not at first, obviously. The fact is, I couldn’t speak it at all. I am embarrassed to say I didn’t even know there was more to white than just white or that All White was a million miles from Strong White. Yet I have proved, somewhat uncharacteristically, a quick learner, and am now, effectively, bilingual. If, for example, you took me to Islington or Hampstead, I could walk down any street and recite the front door colours, as follows: Downpipe, Downpipe, Downpipe, Downpipe, Downpipe, Plummet, Pigeon, Downpipe, Downpipe and Downpipe, as Downpipe is all the rage, as you would know, if you were as fluent in Farrow & Ball as I am. And as for getting any Farrow & Ball colour made up for a quarter of the price down the local paint shop... Well? Yes? No? For God’s sake, after all these years, you could at least make one of the decisions for me.