I have never bought a carpet. Sure, I’ve come close a few times – who hasn’t by the time they get to my age? But that’s as far as I’ve taken it. Of course, I’ve seen new carpets. Felt their soft cushioning caress underneath my naked feet and scrunched my toes into the furry flooring. When I was a child my parents regarded carpet-buying as a competitive spectator sport. Many a school holiday would be spent shifting sofa-beds and bookcases out of back bedrooms. All so they could invite shoeless or slipper-wearing neighbours in to stare at, but never stand on, the new carpet.
Or there was the time a colleague got a new stretch of carpet by his desk. I’d invent purposeful reasons to go and stand on it just so I could enjoy the fresh tread. My loud meetings didn’t seem to bother him, but I think he did object to me taking off my socks and having a picnic while his team tried to finish important reports. You can’t take your shoes off on another man’s carpet. You have to get your own. But it seems too grown up.
Buying your first carpet is much more than just a home-furnishing decision. It’s a lifestyle statement. You’re saying: ‘I have a little bit of money to spare, I’m settled in the home I’m in and I don’t like standing on cold floors any more.’
As it happens, none of those things are particularly true of me. I have no spare money, I am desperate to switch apartments and, after more than a decade of carpet-free living, I’ve got used to slipping on tiled and even laminate flooring.
But I’m at the stage of my life where I think I should be buying carpets. It’s part of getting older. As a happily-married father I shouldn’t be worried. There are bigger things in my life. But I see people half my age buying their first carpets and think I may be missing out. Friends in England are on their third or fourth refit and I’m awake at night panicking. It’s time to step onto the first rug of the carpet ladder, and a nice Arabian rug would be a great start. A kind gent in a souk offered to sell me a beautiful rug at a ‘special price’. He was obviously aware he was dealing with a fellow expert. Unfortunately the negotiations fell through and I’m back to square tiles. My wife thinks I am over-reacting. It’s as simple as buying curtains, tablecloths or bath mats, she says. I’m too ashamed to tell her I’ve never bought any of those things either.