Blame Cameron For Reinventing The Kitchen
There are not quite Iago’s ‘wild cats’ in my kitchen but, to be honest, things are pretty feral.
There is a foul-smelling muddy pair of trainers to my right, the detritus of breakfast is still laid out in splendour in front of me, the coffee-stained newspapers are crumpled on the floor and I’ve been watching the cricket World Cup on TV with the sound down whilst, ironically, Bob Dylan wails at full volume about sitting in his kitchen with a dose of the Tombstone Blues.
And it’s heaven. If only for a few hours, I am living my own domestic hedonism. My family are under the impression that the sweet aroma of supper, calming sounds of ClassicFM and sparkling table-tops that greet them at the end of the afternoon are what the kitchen has always been like throughout the day.
That is my moment to impress the family, to convince them through well-practised fakery, that I’m a domestic god. Where once such credentials would have rested upon power drills and lawnmowers, now the proof of my masculinity is bound up in the kitchen.
As is David Cameron’s. And, I suppose, Ed Miliband’s. However, the difference between the two is that Dave can fake authenticity without looking as if he’s trying, whilst poor old Ed simply looks out of place, awkwardly drinking a cup of tea in what is little more than an upmarket pantry.
Clearly, Cameron knows with far more certainty than his opposite number that no room better encapsulates a man’s identity today than the kitchen. I admit that this morning I have enjoyed being a feckless slob, yet in a few hours I will get my act together and give myself that Prime Ministerial air. I will be chopping, helping with the homework, moaning about the bills, calming fevered brows, cooking up a storm and packing the dishwasher with my anally-retentive ‘special system’.
Because this room has become our domain. No Churchillian cigar-smoking in the drawing room. No Clarkson-esque, faded jean laddishness in the fast lane. No shin-crunching on the pitch. If you can prove yourself in the kitchen, you will be a man, my son.
A recent survey by an upmarket property company http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/news/9394944/Sexy-kitchens-Its-a-mans-world-now.html confounds conventional wisdom – liberally seasoned with a large pinch of sexism – about what men and women look for when they’re buying a new property. Forget about basements, garages and cinemas – what men desire are deluxe kitchens and shiny new kitchen appliances.
In metrosexual Britain, the kitchen has become a macho status symbol, driven by the convincingly authentic – and female-friendly – mateyness of Jamie, Heston, Gordon et al. Where once men would have splashed out on hiring a Porsche to whisk away their beloved to some fancy country-house hotel, now showing off means booking one of those absurd ‘chefs tables’ in the middle of a chaotic restaurant kitchen, where conversation is drowned out by clattering pans.
In this quest to turn cooking into theatre, to make kitchens cool and a masculine measurement of prowess, men have remade kitchens in their own image. Everything is manly stainless steel and invariably bigger than it needs to be, there is a whizz-bang gadget for even the simplest of tasks and it all screams ‘power’.
And, if kitchens are indeed a reflection of a man, the politicians have let us see them as they really are. Ed’s is boring, characterless and unfamiliar, while Dave’s is just a little too cynically PR-perfect and filled with too many whizz-bang gadgets that look good but which you tire of pretty quickly.
For me, the kitchen is a disorganised mess filled with outdated cultural relics and worn-out attire. Which, come to think of it, is possibly an accurate reflection of my own status.