Monday, 16 July 2007

Who lives in a house like this?

Except for a precious while at the weekend when I was blessed with company (for it is surely not the done thing to entertain two male platonic friends in one's bedroom), the last time I was in here was days ago. I am unsure when, until the iMac wakes from its sleep, the last document I was working on still on the screen casting my mind back to its deadline, and allowing realisation to dawn.


It's now Monday evening. But here I am. Uncomfortable to the point of agitation, but here.

I'd love to pretend that it was some kind of epiphany, some kind of courageous triumph over an invisible force or an immovable object. The reality is somewhat less inspirational - a knackered iBook charger - and the need for the internet that outweighed the need to stay cocooned tonight, and for once I am simultaneously glad that I spent money I didn't have on an indulgent gadget and annoyed that by necessity, it must reside in the other room.

The avoidance of this room is something I'm struggling to comprehend. It's neat, it's tidy, and yet at the same time, cosy and inviting, and nothing bad ever happened here; I'd even go so far as to say it's a beautiful room if I could work out a way to do so without sounding pompous. My favourite room in the flat, and the one I'm always proud to show off when having friends over for the first time. The one that sold the place, even though I rent. Metaphorically, then.

A dark wood floor, stained in golden hues of cherry. An original black marble Victorian fireplace standing almost half the height of the wall to which it is attached, that has long since lost its fire; instead, in its place, stands a collection of haphazardly arranged coloured glass bottles that catch the light as it dances through the gossamer thin muslin adorning the huge, airy bay window.

And alcoves. One either side of the fireplace, full to bursting point with books I haven't yet read by authors I know I would love had I made the effort, except the Murakamis and Hempels and the Carvers, the contents of which are and always will be imprinted on my memory, along with those of the Clarksons and the Mays. Unconventional shelf-fellows, perhaps, but I read those whose writing I adore, the literary credibility, or misplaced lack thereof, of the name on the dust jacket has never been able to sway.

Oh, the alcoves - simple, but perfect, for I always wanted alcoves. The initial enthusiasm over every place I ever lived in gradually melted into a faint sense of disappointment that I could never quite put my finger on until now, as the lightbulb goes off above my head: no alcoves. Now I finally have them at the ripe old age of 35, I barely ever see them.

I drop a cigarette into the makeshift ashtray next to me - a bottle, I refuse to buy an ashtray; until I do, I'm not yet officially smoking again - and wonder why.

Pictures give a small clue to the passions of the occupant within, or without; an Edwardian scene at Ludgate Circus; on another wall, three black wooden frames, a trinity, each containing a symbol which could suggest a French pavement cafe; on the chimney breast, the centrepiece: a framed poster announcing a forthcoming auction of classic cars. Fine Le Mans Winning British Marques. Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lagonda, Bentley. Let's waste time, chasing cars, around our heads...

A few, carefully selected DVDs, but not too many, because clutter and materialism have never sat comfortably: Peter Gabriel, live and otherwise; Glenn Miller, expertly played by Jimmy Stewart; one box-set of Titanic documentaries, another of a nameless television show over which I may have an obsession slightly too unhealthy for one of my years, especially for one of my years who never watches television; a gap where the Billy Connolly shows resided before I lent them out - to whom, I don't remember.

A souvenir from the job I adored, acquired in a slightly dodgy and alcohol-fuelled manner. A tiffany-style bowl, filled with odds and ends and coins on the wrought-iron decorated dark-wood coffee table that's such an accidentally perfect fit it may merge with the floor if seen from above. A climbing tree, already half shredded by one of three over-exuberant cats and the "Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure", a gift from a friend that makes me smile every time I see it.

An armchair that everyone else hates but that fits my form like a plaster-cast, an Indian-themed throw on the sofa-bed, sitting uneasily against the period backdrop and at the same time, blending in perfectly.

Who lives in a house like this? It could only be me.

This room is me.

Perhaps, therein, lies the answer.


An Unreliable Witness said...

As someone who tends to have something of a mental block when it comes to description - my answer to the question of what my living room is like would be "Er, well, it's a living room" - this entry is so evocative of its location that it feels like I'm sat there already.

I often try to describe my flat. The only word that ever comes to me is "home".

isabelle said...

What an eloquent description of a lovely room . And if the room is you,it follows that you are lovely too.

Absolutely Miles Away said...

Everyone needs their little place to feel at home - it is wonderful that you are able to describe and project this in such a wonderful way.