We have been losing sleep over our lightshades. ‘How domestic‘ you might think. But the thing is, we’ve been trying to figure out how to get replacements for what seems like aeons. When we first arrived and fixed up the inside of the house, we got some paper lightshades from Ikea. Big rice paper globes. Perfect for our dining and lounge rooms (which are, incidentally, both 4.2m x 4.2m – I had to measure them last night). They are cheap, they look good. But we couldn’t cope with the idea of a seven hour round trip in the car to get more. So I asked my mother.
I know she drives within spitting distance of the Moorabbin Ikea every day.

B: …we really need to get hold of some lightshades before we try to sell the house.
Mum: Lightshades?
B: Yeah, remember the big paper ones we have? They’re so full of manky dead bugs that they barely cast a glow. And they look hideous.
Mum: Just put the house on the market, no one’s going to care about the lightshades. Sell! Sell!!
B: [sighs through teeth] I am not going to sell the house with manked up lightshades – and anyway, M would have a fit if I even suggested it. So I was wondering…
Mum: [silence] B: …I was wondering whether you could grab us a few from Ikea one day and just send them up in the post?
Mum: [for some reason, the accent gets more pronounced]. Oh. I don’t know. They’re so big. How will I wrap them?
B: [trys to bang head silently on door frame] Muuuuum. You send packages overseas every Christmas. You pack things I wouldn’t even dwell on. These are paper. They lie flat.
Mum: I don’t know how I’d send them. They’re so big.
B: You already said that.
Mum: Welllllllll.
[She says it in a dismissive way. She says it in a way that makes it clear that she is not going to be posting any lightshades in this direction any time soon. She says no without saying no in the same way that she did when I dragged her to the police station to sign a statutory declaration on which the fate of my house rested.] I gave up. There’s got to be an easier way. If you can’t get through to the recalcitrant American, go around it.

So today I sent out a plea to the mailing list that I have with some of my friends. Within four minutes one of them was on the phone (having already called Ikea to make sure they had them in stock) saying that it would be no problem at all. She would even pay for them and we could pay her back in beer (the best kind of currency) when we got back to Melbourne. She just called again from the post office to confirm our address. Thank-you Rachael. You are going to get such a serious amount of beer from us that you better start making some flood evacuation plans. We love you.