It’s time to get Covid glamorous | Eva Wiseman | Life and style

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I knew I was in deep when I found myself shopping on eBay for a tasselled velvet robe. Admittedly, my descent into Covid glamour has been slow, with makeup the last thing to arrive, just after soap. I started lockdown nine months pregnant in secondhand leggings – today I am writing in satin amid the smog of two scented candles. I tend towards glamour that is slightly lurid and vaguely obscene. A smoky eye that, rather than seduction and mystery, suggests burning buildings and a sense of inner chaos.

I think often these days of the decadent aristocrat in Joris-Karl Huysmans’s novel Against Nature, who buys a tortoise because he thinks a moving object will bring out the colours of his new carpet and defy the greyness of the world. Unfortunately, the browns are still too brown, so he covers the tortoise in gold. Which, can I just say, would have been enough for me, but alas Huysmans’s hero Des Esseintes is still not satisfied. He encrusts the tortoise’s shell with jewels, and finally its crawl across his carpet brings the creeping glamour intended. Except, the weight of the stones crushes the poor thing. Luckily, this being a book, a reader may close it before the metaphor kicks in, and be inspired instead by this sweet domestic fantasy. There is no need to ever go out when your carpet is home to a disco tortoise, its carapace glinting beneath the light of the telly. Along with the thrill of dipping a KitKat Chunky in tea for just a second too long, I’m finding glamour a satisfying way to manage existential dread.

Anchored to a sofa by both the threat of the outside world and a breastfeeding baby, I spend week-long hours now, gazing up at the problem of my home. It, too, has started to yearn for glamour. Starved of the tipsy bickering of a long Sunday lunch, my house craves attention. It misses the left scent of a gossipy visitor, the explosion of laundry after a holiday. All mess now is our mess. Dust gathering in odd places is sadder for being made up only of my family’s dry skin – no vivacious strangers are here to shed themselves. The paintings are only looked at by us, which means, not seen at all. The kitchen table like a snake, sheds its skin of dirty plates and felt-tip pens only to replace it promptly with a new one, almost identical. I feel sorry for this house, red-bricked, tight-lipped, watching me fold tired muslins – this was not meant to be a house of dying plants and Quorn nuggets.

Over the 100 years since it was built, my house has earned the right to a swishy rug, a magnificent cactus, a performance of Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All every evening at eight. Across the world, feverish now from gazing at the same ceiling crack since March, everyone is taking their home apart and gluing it back together again in order to better utilise the porch for such ends, or transform the kitchen into an office slash nightclub. A meme is circulating – a shelf of Lonely Planet travel books, the titles on their spines updated: The Lounge (57 Routes to the Sofa), The Kitchen (Extreme Experimental Zone), alongside a couple of Rough Guides, one to The Bedroom, another Exploring The Inner Wardrobe. It resonates. My boyfriend and I have taken to standing in doorways and asking whispered questions of the loadbearing walls. Early in the morning he finds me inhaling back issues of the World of Interiors and muttering words like, “suspenseful visual pause” and “antechamber”.

Thankfully, Changing Rooms is returning, just in time. We’re stuck not only inside our homes, but also inside our phones, where Instagram has introduced us to curated bathrooms and such fresh hells as “tablescaping”. I’m as guilty as the next cow of allowing a stranger’s taste to flow directly through my phone screen into the way I plate my elevenses, but before we start, let’s not pretend a £50 candle or bent pot is any more respectable than one of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s glass bowls with pebbles in it – all our interior design choices are made to quietly project an image we aspire to. While Changing Rooms offered a class bump through liberal use of Blu Tack, a vintage Moroccan rug or the framing of Matisse posters offers a culture bump. Which I will gladly accept – glamour requires a little pain in the ribs.

A thirst that in March might have been quenched by rearranging a bookshelf, today sees me making plans to remove our bath and build a dressing-up room. We have dry shampoo – the bath is no longer required. Would we ideally have somewhere to wash? Yes, but glamour is tough and rarely happens by accident. It involves a level of compromise and occasional discomfort. Luckily, this year we have plenty of both. Covid glamour began with the addition of perfume for Zoom calls, but soon extended into the redecorating of our homes as stages to perform on, as well as everything else. It is the wearing of a silly heel to put out the bins, the throwing of pink scarves over Ikea lamps, a sense of occasion for your Lemsip cocktail and, next on my list, the purchase of a tortoise.

Email Eva at e.wiseman@observer.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman

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Source: The Guardian
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