Sometimes we are beguiled by wonderful images we see on the internet. I am thinking of you here Pinterest, and specifically of this website which I discovered via Lauren Laverne on Twitter (@laurenlaverne).
It’s called Hygge Life.
Hygge is a Danish word which we derive our word ‘hug’ from.
Hygge is about snuggling down. It’s about chilling out. It’s about sharing great food and drink with the people that you love. It’s about relaxing and nesting, and basically a cosy, gorgeous version of hibernating over the winter months. It’s the whole taking time out to smell the flowers thing, but slower, with the heating on, and comfy pyjamas.
I love this idea. Love it.
I fell deeper in love as I perused the Hygge website. It is crammed full of glorious photographs of an idyllic life. Cute dogs, old vans stuffed with French loaves, fairy lights, posh picnics. Happy, gorgeous looking people.
Then I got sad.
This is not my life.
This is not going to be my life. With the best will in the world I am not this sort of person.
Even if I buy that quilt, or those tea lights, or decide to raise fancy chickens, or buy a trug, I am not going to turn into a cream skinned, flame haired beauty with carefree tousled appearance and a winning way with the chic life of the effortlessly rich.
I live in a post war semi in a cul-de-sac, not a period manor house made of age weathered stone with roses round the door.
Until I read Jane Austen my only experience of Ha-Ha’s was in a joke book.
If I do buy the lifestyle it is only a matter of time before someone will spill ink on my quilt. My tea lights will smell of burning hair. My chickens will get mites. It is the way of my people.
Look what happened when I tried to turn into Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. We ended up with potatoes growing next to delphiniums, next to endless courgettes nobody wanted to eat, and a plague of black fly on the carrots. Then there was that almighty row about who was going to pick up the windfall apples.
I still can’t look a courgette in the eye.
Look what happened when I read too many romance books in my late teens and didn’t have a boyfriend for three years because not only had I lost all confidence in my own appearance because I didn’t match any of the women in the books, but I also failed to find the man who was basically Benedict Cumberbatch crossed with the business acumen of Alan Sugar and the winning bedroom naughtiness of Christian Grey.
It is with deep regret that I inform myself, as much as everyone else, that you cannot buy your way into the perfect lifestyle. No amount of Anthropologie knick knacks are going to take the East Midlands out of the girl. No amount of soft focus Instagramming of latte is going to soften the blow that your bins smell and your middle child has tracked mud up the beige stair carpet.
And you’ve got beige stair carpet.
And you are not going to transform from what you are. Not really. Not where it matters. You might fake it for a while, but it’s hard work, and draining and ultimately unsatisfying having a double life.
I must, therefore, step away from the desire to go and fill my dented VW Polo with baguettes from Tesco Metro and drive up and down Welford Road with the window down and my hair streaming in the wind, trying to capture that sense of hygge, or joie de vivre or whatever it is I think I’ll get when I see those photos.
What I must do, instead, is embrace the me-ness of my life and celebrate it, and revel in it, and accept that it is totally ok to enjoy eating chips from the chippy, and to get more excited by the new Marian Keyes novel than about the new Michael Faber novel (which everyone is raving about, but which they serialised on Woman’s Hour and I hated). My Hygge is probably going to involve mis-matched pyjamas and being snuggled up with the blanket the cat likes roll all over while watching Buffy re runs on Sky. And that’s cool.
It is absolutely fine to enjoy what websites like Hygge have to offer, either by stroking all the lovely pictures, or buying something, but I need to remember that I’m not buying polyjuice potion. Whatever it is I buy, I am still me. And that’s fine.
Apart from the mud on the stair carpet.