All I Know I Learned From Telly: Houses

Tim Minchin is both a wise man, and my celebrity doppelganger (seriously. Just ask anyone who’s ever seen me in the morning. We look so alike it’s frightening.) And Matilda is a show so great that even someone with a deep aversion to musical theatre will come out of it raving. But there’s one song that I take issue with.

It’s got nothing to do with children being maggots, or the importance of being loud, or eating entire chocolate cakes. It’s to do with tv.  The song in question is “Telly”, in fact.

Because yes, Musical Master Minchin is right in that you can’t learn everything from telly. But you can learn a lot. And I’m going to tell you just what I’ve learned from telly – starting, this week, with everything I’ve learned about houses.

How to buy a house






When I very first went to see my bank to talk about getting a mortgage, they asked me if I knew very much about the house buying process. It’s a fair question for a first time buyer, yes. But they hadn’t realised that I was a first time buyer who’d watched far, far too much Location Location Location.

It’s not all laughing at incredibly unrealistic wishlists for houses and marvelling at the strange power dynamics in other people’s relationships. Turns out that in between all the innuendo and talk of needing to compromise, you accidentally learn the house-buying process. Why else would I even be at the bank getting an agreement in principle, if Kirstie and Phil hadn’t told me to do it?

How to sell a house




Phil Spencer is, it seems, a strangely helpful man. During a period of particularly low-brow TV watching, I became oddly addicted to his arguably lesser companion show – Phil Spencer: Secret Agent. The premise is simple: people can’t work out why they can’t sell their hideously painted, terribly cluttered, utterly filthy houses. Phil points out that they’re hideously painted, terribly cluttered, and utterly filthy. The owners sort that out. The house sells. Everyone’s happy.

Especially me, for when the time came to sell our first house I knew to ship off half our crap to my parents’ garage (sorry about blocking all your bikes in, Dad), paint the whole thing the most neutral shade ever, and hire a cleaner.

Maybe I could do Phil’s job for him.

How to decorate a house






It’s important here to talk about the new Queer Eye. To be honest, all I ever want to do is talk about the new Queer Eye, for it is one of the greatest joys ever beamed into eyeballs worldwide. Admittedly, I can’t always see precisely what’s going on because of all the crying I’m doing, but I have picked up a few tips. Like repainting old furniture to make it look fancy and new. And something to do with dark paint not actually making spaces look smaller. I think. I was crying a lot at that point.

God I want them to come fix my house and give me a hug. Can I nominate my husband? I might nominate my husband.

How (not) to build a house




So far we’ve been all about what you should be doing. But telly also teaches some magnificent lessons on what you shouldn’t be doing. Take every episode of Grand Designs ever, where somehow everyone makes the same mistake.

They try to build in winter. They don’t leave a big enough contingency. They try out new materials that go all awry. And, in the greatest mistake of all, they try to project manage it themselves. “NEVER PROJECT MANAGE IT YOURSELF” scream Kevin McCloud’s eyes as he talks calmly, if judgementally, to camera just before the ad break. “It never works out!”

Except when it does. Which is quite a lot of the time.

And finally….don’t ever give interior designers free reign






There’s one show which we really must dig into our collective memories to be horrified anew by. Changing Rooms. My GOD, they came up with some monstrosities on that show. Rooms that looked like a toddler’s e-number fuelled nightmare. Rooms that looked like alcopop vomit. Rooms that looked like Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen dresses. It still haunts me now, even at a distance of 20 years.

Maybe everyone who went on there should get a second makeover from the Queer Eye crew. Maybe I should present it. Maybe all the fab five should come live with me while they’re over here filming it.

Sorry. Got a bit distracted there.

But seriously, fab five. Call me.

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