At the now sadly deleted Gatochy’s Blog, Marianna would occasionally post a photograph with the title ‘This is so spiritually me’. Well, this is So Spiritually Me, the kind of room I’ve fantasised about inhabiting since early childhood. It would ideally be deep in a cool forest, way up in the canopy, in perpetual rain. The rain drumming on the roof and sighing in the leaves outside the window highlights the warm, gold-lit cosiness within, where you curl your toes in unending delight at the sheer cuddlesome snuggliness of your life here.
- How do the fridge, cooker, shower and loo work under such circumstances?
- They just do, alright? Hear the ice tinkling in my scotch?
- Won’t you have the Devil’s own job to fight black mould, what with all that damp?
- I’m just dreaming, OK?
- How come the place doesn't just collapse into a festering swamp, if it never stops raining?
- Christ, can’t I have a bloody fantasy?
No, not for long. The practicalities keep intruding. The reality is that I live in a small flat where I am very pushed for space. Lots of time on my hands these days, so I'm tidying the place up. I can’t stand the sight of disorder at home. (Work’s different – I have no emotional investment in my desk.) I can’t relax unless every cushion is plumped and every bowl, plant and candlestick is standing just so in relation to every other bowl, plant and candlestick. However, the place is usually tidy to outward appearance only. Wherever I’ve lived, in every drawer and cupboard there has been shut away a thicket of old bills, receipts, USB cables, CD ROMS, candle stubs, board markers, nail clippers and dozens of those small, unnameable odds and sods that have fallen off other odds and sods, and that you don’t chuck because you think you might one day discover what they’re for. Yesterday I had a ruthless clear-out, filling two and a half bin-liners with old papers and junk. Now you can open the cupboards without unleashing an avalanche. As always after a clear-out, I’m worried in case I’ve pitched something of vital importance for my paltry savings or dreaded retirement, but it’s too late now.
Today I decided to get started on the book cases, as it had become almost impossible to locate anything easily. I’ve had to ditch dozens of books during dozens of moves over the last 30 years, and so now I am absolutely not going to part with a single one of the six hundred or so I’ve accumulated since I came back to England nearly seven years ago, despite the space they take up. Whilst trying to sort them into categories, I was amazed to find one hung onto but untouched since school; Molière’s Dom Juan, all sixth-formishly annotated in my huge insecure teenager’s writing, and one saved from Cambridge, von Kleist’s Die Marquise von O…, a tiny yellow bog-roll Reklam paperback. It’s in near mint condition thirty-five years after I bought it, and I assumed that must be because I had never read it – certainly I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. Flicking through, I saw I had put just one lone note in a margin: ‘all is not what it seems’. You could have had a rubber stamp made with that one on.
|Why can't everybody be as clear as Russell?|
|Closer to home...|
Right, I’m starting on Coping with a Mid-Life Crisis straight away.
|Stuff by the Godly and the Ungodly. And Karen Armstrong.|
|Realised too late that Homebase shelves are designed for nick-knacks, not books. |
After a couple of years they start to sag.