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Ah the joys of living in community.

Varuna is the most wonderful place, but is not without its quirks and politics. The house has been kept more or less the same as when Eleanor Dark lived here, with mostly the same furniture and fittings and pictures. There are a few mod cons of course (sadly not in the bathroom/plumbing areas, but there is central heating which is a blessing), but generally it’s got the feel of a lovely old, well lived-in place.

When I arrived here on Monday I was shown the general direction of the kitchen but told “Oh Nicole the new housekeeper is in there, so we won’t go in just now.” For the rest of the afternoon I heard a lot of curious bangs and bumps coming from downstairs but as I was still settling in I didn’t think too much of it.

However, I did not realise that the beginnings of a huge controversy were underway.

Nicole the new housekeeper has apparently been given a brief to spruce up the place a bit. Never having been here before, I didn’t know what things used to look like, and it all looks fine to me. But when Julie returned for her second week after one night away, I realised this was a lot more serious than I’d thought. She shrieked at every turn and said, “I go away for one day and look what happens!”

The changes in the house have been the hot topic of conversation at dinner every single night. Why did she move the fridge? Why did she take the table out of the living room? What’s with the frilly cushions in the bedrooms and the rose shaped soap? Why is there a tea-cosy thing on the toaster?

Of everyone, Julie is most incensed about this, maybe because she’s been coming to Varuna for the last three years so knows well how it’s always been. “It’s just like living in a share house with a particularly passive-aggressive flatmate who just moves things around without consulting anyone and leaves notes in the fridge saying things like ‘whoever took my banana had better replace it’. It’s not a bloody late-Victorian B&B for goodness’ sake! I don’t want frilly pillows!”

The housekeeper is only in once a week, on Mondays. So in a similarly passive-aggressive reaction to all this, things are gradually being moved back the way they were, and I’m not sure who is actually doing it. Every time i walk into the kitchen the fridge is in a different place. The round table has been returned to its rightful position in the living room, leaving a huge void in the middle of the kitchen (which, like my kitchen at home has very little bench space and so nowhere to put things, which I suspect was Nicole the new housekeeper’s original motive for moving the table). The dining table was turned back 90 degrees to the way it was before. The vase of silk poppies is still on the sideboard, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they disappear soon too.

Mutiny is afoot!