Welcome to Britalian, a podcast that should track my metamorphosis into a British citizen, but that will see me fail miserably today. Please, do come in. Please, do take off your shoes, we’ve got new carpet.
Whoever spends more than 20 minutes with me knows that I am generally an agreeable man, but I have one archenemy, a nemesis, the hate of my life: carpet.
Last time I saw carpet in Italy was when my mum decided that horrible stuff in our spare room had to go. I was 4 or 5 years old. My life was then carpet-free until I moved to Scotland, and I realised it was everywhere, like a pest growing out of control. Why would you put something that absorbs and traps dirt, smells, dust and the occasional animal (or human) puke?
It is fluffy and warm when you wake up in the morning.
Just buy a mat! A rug! A pair of cosy flip flops!
It’s like having a wall-to-wall rug.
Sure, but I can wash my rug, you can’t wash a carpet.
It absorbs you neighbours noise.
Well, mate, you should start enjoying the Italian art of eavesdropping.
That’s why every time I moved I looked for hard-floored flats. “Do you have an allergy?” asked the agency guy. No, but I’d prefer not to develop one, thanks.
This, until I moved in with my boyfriend. Of course my boyfriend didn’t come with a hard floor, that’s a filter that Grindr should definitely add, thank you very much. My boyfriend’s carpet had a dodgy colour and an even dodgier smell. We both knew it was high time we got rid of it.
One day we were having Sunday roast with friends and the table was so full of plates, bowls, glasses and food, my boyfriend put his glass of red wine down on the carpet by his chair. I looked down and I thought it was a most dangerous place to put a glass, but said nothing. Obviously, not long after he turned around and knocked it down. Our friends jumped on their feet, grabbed some kitchen paper and dabbed it away. I just sat quiet at my chair, enjoying the show. The enemies of the carpet are my friends. I couldn’t care less it would leave a stain. That would mean we would change the carpet quicker.
The carpet was so wicked, it didn’t even leave a stain. Anyway, we embarked on a long search for a new carpet.
Flooring shop number 1. The owner asked: “How old is the carpet?” “mh-47 years maybe?” “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch it, did you just say four-to-seven?” “No, 47.” The man just tipped over. “We recommend you change it every 8-10 years”. Woppsie! Anyway, we couldn’t find what we wanted, so…
Flooring shop number 2. The funny thing with carpets is, the carpet roll is sold by the square yard, but you measure the room in metres. Guys, this does not make any sense. The carpet man came to measure our flat. He didn’t take off his shoes. He’s a carpet man, goodness. He should know better how not to step over a carpet. That’s how you measure the floor. You start in metres, then round up to the nearest inch, then convert in feet, then gallons, then guineas, then back into yards, and finally just screw the customer. managed to add 10 extra square metres to the final surface. That was another no. Which led to…
Flooring shop number 3: this is starting to sound like a laugh. I went in with my measurements, which my boyfriend had carried out by the centimetre. The shop owner sent me to an older man sitting behind the counter. He was scrolling through page three of the Sun online. I was horrified. When finally his attention moved from the boobs to me, he set out to work out a quote. He couldn’t make out the measurements. Eventually he said, tapping on his big calculator and double-checking on a conversion matrix: “it’s £500 for the carpet, plus £100 for laying it down, total is…£400.”
Mate, you had one job, and if you can’t work out 500+100 with a calculator, I wouldn’t trust you with my flooring.
Eventually we got a greyish-beigeish carpet with speckles from John Lewis, so dirt does not look so bad on it. I passionately campaigned for parquet, laminate, bare planks, anything but carpet, but my boyfriend conceded only the entrance. And when we finally laid a lovely hard flooring in the hall, it felt quite…echoy. Please don’t tell my boyfriend.
My battle with carpet is not over yet, and who knows who will win. I do believe carpet will torment me until my dying day, perhaps afterwards. Because yes: damp, grey, dusty and smelly: hell must be lined with carpet.
Next time: misfit.