Why I could never date a man without a wood-burning stove

By Charlotte Phelps

THERE is a baseline of things we expect in a relationship – respect, mutual attraction and, of course, a faux-rustic stove fuelled by little pre-chopped logs.

A wood-burning stove says a lot about a man, specifically: ‘I am incredibly middle-class and this Dik Geurts glorified metal box cost £4,000.’ That’s very attractive when I’m planning my future and factoring in private school fees and the chance to pack in my job and write my bullshit novel.

Being at one with the elemental forces of fire and nature also implies a man is primitive and virile, but not too primitive and virile, like a builder. I’ve seen the ones working on Cassie’s extension, and let’s just say evolution has not been kind to them.

Perhaps most importantly, a wood-burning stove shows taste. Not good taste, more a sheep-like devotion to predictable middle-class status symbols. But if that’s what it takes to impress the bitches I went to school with, I’m happy to be front of the herd.

But, I hear you say, what about the recent bad publicity? Well, yes, these stoves cause horrendous air pollution. But you have to be realistic about the environment. I recycle everything that doesn’t need washing out, and that gives me a clean slate to go on holiday to Crete as much as I like.

I’m more concerned about particulates entering your lungs, liver and brain. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare – having thick children. But with a private tutor to make them more intelligent we’ll probably barely notice a few missing brain cells. Certainly not worth giving up such a homely fire for.

Yes, I see my romantic future as inextricably bound up with wood-burning stoves. I’m currently seeing a solicitor called Dan, but frankly I’d dump him like that for a merchant banker with a better stove. It sounds harsh, but the heart wants what it wants.

Who knows where this magical journey of love will take me? Hopefully to meeting ‘the one’, who not only has a wood-burning stove but is also receptive to the idea of getting an Aga.

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How to pretend you're greener than you are to your eco-conscious friends

ARE your tree-hugging, save-the-Siberian-marmoset friends on their way over? Here’s how to give the impression you’re basically Greta Thunberg.

Hide the car

Move it up the street, pop it on a neighbour’s front lawn, drive it into a river – do whatever you have to. Also park a bicycle or two outside, preferably those cargo ones with a box on the front for carting your kids around like posh wine. If you don’t have one, theft is acceptable — you can return it when your superior friends have left. It’s not like you’ll be using it.

Set the scene

All reusable water bottles and coffee cups should be rescued from the back of cupboards and placed on display by the sink, as if they’re lining up to go into battle. Now hide the clingfilm under the bed, empty your pulses into paper bags and don’t offer anyone a bleached teabag. Also, take out the main bin because 50 per cent of the stuff in there should have been recycled

Make sure it’s freezing

If you can afford to put the heating on a little bit, just to take the arctic edge off your living room, don’t. Offer your friends a blanket if they’re chilly, but don’t wear one yourself — pretend you’re used to the temperature. If your teeth start chattering, claim you’re having a seizure rather than admit you’re used to a toasty 23 degree house.

Move your tumble dryer into the back garden

Or at the very least throw a tablecloth over it and disguise the laundry room as an alternative dining area. Make sure all the towels in the house look suitable crusty and air-dried.

Police your photos 

Take down any pictures of holiday destinations you clearly have to fly to. Only shots of grey clouds, windswept hair and miserable children are permitted to prove you wouldn’t dream of holidaying outside the British Isles. 

Don’t flush

Make sure all the toilets in the house are unflushed. Since your friends may not even need to use one, it would be preferable to take a dump, at least in the downstairs loo, so the stench will let them know that you would never dream of wasting water in this way. If they do use the toilet and are horrified to be confronted by a large turd sitting there malevolently, they won’t quickly forget how much you love the planet.