We’ve all done it, girls. You pop out ‘just for some window shopping’ and before you know it, there you are, sneaking in by the back door, smuggling slats, curtain rails and mattresses up the stairs in the hope that hubby won’t notice. “Buy anything? Me?”, you shout down. “Nah, didn’t see anything I liked”, you boldly chirp, all the while trying to work out where to hide the bedposts and when would be a good time for the “crikey, look what I’ve found” Big Reveal. Well, today that was me. And I am ashamed, although, as ever, I have my excuses.

To put it in context, my partner and I have had the same futon since our student days over a decade ago. And it was second-hand and broken when we got it. Hence last Christmas my dad generously gave us some Ikea vouchers with which to purchase a nice bouncy new double. And that’s just what I’ve done (with the addition of some funky but somewhat superfluous posts).

Of course, given our current financial situation I should have thought “fuck the bed” and used up all the vouchers on our weekly shop. I mean, I wouldn’t mind living off Dime cake and pickled herring for a few months. But the bed was on special offer and it was being discontinued and it was a FOUR POSTER so I had to have it. D’you see? I HAD TO HAVE IT.

The expense doesn’t bother me that much, or rather, it was covered by the vouchers, so Not Real Money, or so I tell myself. I guess the thing that bothers me now is what the fuck am I doing with a four poster bed in my house? To put it bluntly: my house is a tip. A complete and utter tip. I wasn’t “good at” housework before I had kids, and now I’m even worse. So what on earth is one to make of a gorgeous white princess bed set in the middle of this utter squalour?

I am aware that there is a certain status attached to living in a pigsty. “Only boring women have tidy houses”, or so the fridge magnet says. A friend from school, now a proud mother of four, once posted a poem as her Facebook status, the details of which I’ve forgotten, but the essence of which was “who cares about a bit of dust when you’ve got love and cuddles and childish laughter filling your home”. And quite right, too. Only I’m not talking about a bit of dust. I mean, I wouldn’t call in Kim and Aggie just yet, but the fact is, our house is not nice. And I’m running round in circles, not to improve it, but just to slow down the decline.

I could, I suppose, do more. Once I’ve finished work, put the kids to bed and done the “basic” kitchen tidy and put on a wash, I could have a daily focus: hoovering for Monday, hob and oven cleaning for Tuesday, upholstery cleaning for Wednesday etc etc. Years ago, before I had kids, I did actually go through a phase of being like that. Funnily enough, it was when I was giving up smoking. It certainly helped, but I still look back on that time of domestic madness and shudder. I just couldn’t bear going through that again. I don’t want to lie on my death bed and think “well, that bit behind the sofa’s still looking pristine”. But by the same token, I don’t want to lie on my death bed and think “blimey, these sheets could do with a wash” (I accept that I’ll probably be thinking neither of these things, but you never know. I’m not a religious type so will no doubt be running through all sorts of random rubbish to avoid thinking of my imminent non-being-ness).

Well, anyhow, perhaps the best you could say is that the four-poster’s a means of bringing a peculiar kind of balance. A haven of luxury in the midst of chaos. And failing that, it’ll probably be quite good for shagging on. Once I’ve found a way of revealing to my partner that it’s actually there.*

* As you may have worked out, some of this is a fib. Partner was with me when I bought it and it’s actually being delivered tomorrow. But the part about it being a four-poster is true. So ner.