A revamped house for Mr Johnson vs everyman’s quest for corona-era comfort

A refurbished house for Mr Johnson – that’s all the UK prime minister wanted. The pandemic had scuppered his India visit. Home is the sanctuary where everyday working people recover from Covid-precipitated disappointments. Some have built the Eiffel Tower at home with bolsters and cushions to attract social media consolation for their scrapped Paris vacation.

Since Boris Johnson is no average Joe, he sought the Taj Mahal of wallpapers for his Downing Street quarters. (An aside: how average can Joe be if he lives in the White House?) Perhaps Johnson aspired to add Empire-level pomp to the adage ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’. With the £58,000 renovation project, he may have wanted the wallpapers to fortify the aesthetic ramparts that tower over the British middle-class taste.

For most people around the world, tending to their homes is a corona-era necessity. Being forced to shelter indoors, people want their temporary prisons to radiate the brochure gloss of a self-development resort. Some feel triumph gush through their souls when they manage to fix, on their own, chronically choked plumbing. Others stack their mantelpieces with inspirational curios of culture. Indeed, ‘Ulysses’ plays a significant role in renewing the senses – it makes breathing better and leaves a layer of euphoric sweat on the face. That is because a hardback version of the James Joyce novel is a sturdy base for the plastic steam inhaler.

Many spend hours e-shopping for ergonomically designed, sofa-matching chairs that support long stints of work at home. Their encyclopaedic accounts on Instagram about their newly acquired lumbar luxury show that the chairs do improve online productivity.

For Mr Biswas of VS Naipaul, home afforded the liberty to “walk in through his own front gate, to bar entry to whoever he wished”. For Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds, home seems to be the refuge that bars the entry to common people’s decoration choices. Symonds sneered at the “John Lewis furniture nightmare” at the prime ministerial residence. That quote is not on record; it could be her secret “interiors monologue”.

John Lewis is a department store regarded affectionately by ordinary British people. So if ‘infra dig’ refers to something beneath one’s status, it is possible that Symonds was horrified by the ‘infra diwan’ in the sitting room. If ‘hoi polloi’ means the inferior masses, Johnson possibly had nightmares from ‘polloi pillow’ in the bedroom. Meanwhile, most modest homes, sensibly, invest in bouquets of sanitisers rather than in tulips that make wallets weedy.



This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.


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