It's Curtains for Curtains
Do we really need them?
Have you ever driven through parts of Europe at night and been surprised at the number of open curtains? In the U.K., as soon as night falls, more often than not curtains are firmly shut, and privacy reigns. But not so in other parts of Europe , where our curiosity may be drawn to investigate brightly lit rooms, and the lives that are lived therein. Each un-curtained window is like a proscenium arch for the nosey, or the merely curious. In my novel 'Because You Were There' Tina gazes into a brightly lit family room. It is dusk , and the curtains are still open. She is being driven to an immigration detention centre, and longs to be with her own family , just like the family she sees through the window.
Brian was brought up on a farm in the African bush. No need for curtains there. But I am from densely populated Britain and for me curtains are decidedly drawn at dusk. Even now that I live in the middle of a French national forest , my instinct is that curtains must be closed. "Who but the sanglier can possibly be looking in?" my husband argues. I despair. How can we possibly resolve our differences? Just like the thermostat for our heating system, I currently get by with occasional tweaks and adjustments when my 'other half' is not looking. But at last I have found a solution that may well suit both of us. And it has all come about because we have the decorators in.
Before the decorators arrived, our lounge and dining room were duly cleared, and curtains were taken down. Everything was stacked in an empty bedroom. We surveyed the nick nacks, pictures, objects and books that were piling up with some dismay. For sure, after living here for nearly twenty two years, things had accumulated. " It will be the perfect opportunity for us to declutter , before we put everything back," we reassured each other. This shedding of possessions is, of course, 'an age thing.' You may recognise the syndrome. However, we recognise that this process is not going to be at all easy.
The painter has now left and our walls are a resplendent white. There is not a spider in sight. All that remains is for the plasterers to finish rendering our conservatory. Moreover our third rather bulky sofa has been whisked away to the recycling centre(I hope it has found a good home.) It is time to reposition the furniture, wash and put back the curtains, and hang our favourite pictures. But what's this? There is something new about the place. What could it possibly be? Ah... It's LIGHT and SPACE!
The upshot of all this is that we have decided not to rehang the curtains. From now on windows will remain uncluttered to allow the light of the midi to flood in . After all, French houses are always equipped with external blinds or shutters to use when necessary. Moreover, those twelve three metre long lined drapes that are all waiting to be washed, ironed and rehung, can be cast aside. What's not to like?
There's just one small cloud on the horizon. When darkness falls, temperatures drop, and there is no moon to gaze at, will we ever be able to agree over the closing of the blinds?