Right. Which of these can I put on a credit card?" I asked Darren from Better Homes when I ventured into his office to pay agency fees and deposits for my new flat in Dubai Marina. I was as winsome as possible. "None of them," he replied sternly. So I duly whipped round the corner to a nearby cashpoint and pillaged it of Dh500 notes, gulping at the wedge of cash I was forking over in one go.
It was naive of me not to have calculated the costs of moving. The upshot of it all is that I now have a delightful apartment, with a vast balcony just yards from the marina's yacht club, but no furniture. No fridge, no cooker, no washing machine, no sofa, not even a chair. It makes minimalist look positively maximalist. The question has become one of priorities. Would I rather buy a fridge so I can keep milk and make a cup of tea in the morning (though that would also require a kettle), or would I rather treat myself to a washing machine and thereby stop running the sniff test on clothes to see if they are appropriate for public use.
I admittedly have an air bed, which is like sleeping in a doughnut; I wake in the morning having sunk into the middle as the air deflates. But that is the lot, and as I have three friends from the UK arriving to stay with me at the end of next week, I am beginning to fret about the level of comfort I can offer them. It hovers between tramp and squatter. I have tried. Last weekend, sound of mind, I drove myself to Ikea in Festival City. I briefly entertained that flush of enthusiasm which greets you upon walking into the Swedish emporium of nightmares, but this dwindled by the kitchen area and was certainly all gone by the lighting section. Weakening, I decided not to take home anything that required heavy lifting. But this didn't make for a particularly productive shopping experience, and I left with a vast wall clock, one pink rug, a lamp and some glasses - one of which smashed on the way home because I got lost, diverted through the Springs and pummelled every speed bump in my post-Ikea fury.
"Did you get a bed?" asked my friend Cam after I returned home, worried about the state of my apartment. "No," I replied sheepishly. "Though I did get a beautiful lamp." Trouble is, I cannot sleep on a lamp and neither can my friends. So, sadly, I foresee another weekend navigating the aisles of Ikea, where no one can hear you scream.