Finally starting to feel better – I completely forgot how awful flu can be! (The irony is that I was meant to have my flu jab yesterday, what a mockery). It’s been a rather undignified week – I went to stay with my mother whilst I was ill, swaddled up in my old bedroom at the very top of the house, time-travelling back to my boyhood and to my lunacy in the attic. God it felt good sinking into that bed, solid and as old as time, smelling very uniquely of the house and the past and my mother and wood polish.
(Toscar came to visit of course, brandishing chocolate and the usual perfunctory insults. I had to ask him to leave in the end because every time he made me laugh I coughed for twenty minutes.)
I was absolutely fucked with fever on the first night, aching like I’d just been gone over with an iron bar, and I had the most bizarre dreams. One dream involved HAL 9000 the supercomputer from 2001:A Space Odyssey. I was trying to rewire his damn circuits and getting it all wrong over and over again. (This particular dream speaks entirely for itself and needs no interpretation- Dee wrote me a letter when we were teenagers about how much he felt like a robot, and he wrote “I’m going to die like HAL, singing ‘Daisy Daisy…good-afternoon gentlemen.”) It seemed to last forever though, as soon as I’d woken up and drank some cough medicine, the whole thing would start again. Then, as the sash window blew rain into my bed and morning crept up, I had another strange dream. I was waiting in Westminster Abbey, about to get married to Julia. I was happy – trussed up very nicely, there were flowers everywhere, and then someone told me that Julia was in a horse-drawn carriage going around in circles in the middle of the road. I legged it out of the Abbey and over to the carriage, trying to stop the horses, and Julia was wearing a black suit, sobbing. She told me her dress had been ruined and she had nothing else to wear. I got in next to her and told her it was fine, she looked amazing, who gives a fuck about the dress, but she wasn’t having any of it. I had an overwhelming suspicion that she simply didn’t want to marry me – and when I woke up it was like the world had ended or something. The intensity of fever-dreams is almost unbearable! Anyway, I know there’s nothing so uniquely boring as listening to another person’s dreams, so I’ll leave it be. (The last time I had flu I dreamt I was being murdered by the number three, so perhaps it could have been worse.)
Now I’m back at my flat and I feel like I’ve gone from King to Pauper in the space of a cab ride. After being with my mother or my sister, or indeed after visiting any home that doesn’t stink of cigarettes and desperation, I always feel a bit ashamed of my self-inflicted squalor. Although I did get Daniel to block the rodent holes and dampen the stream of mice whilst I was at my mother’s, which is something. Next step – get over my guilt and finally hire a cleaner. Toscar told me that I didn’t actually need a cleaner, I just needed to invest in some storage and get rid of the ‘useless bits of furniture, like that fucking aromatherapy basket or whatever you call it’ (he meant ‘apothecary cabinet’) – which is actually quite sound advice. It’s not so much the cleanliness of the place that needs addressing – it’s the JUNK. I can’t pass a trinket shop without acquiring at least twenty pieces of uselessness. Toscar pointed out that I had several (read: countless) vintage biscuit tins on the kitchen counter top, and thee sugar bowls. I don’t suppose anyone needs three sugar bowls (BUT THEY’RE ALL SO LOVED! One is in the shape of a jelly with a MOUSE COMING OUT OF IT, the other is really really old and used to belong to my grandmother and the other is Limoges! Which two should I get rid of? Tell me, oh mighty one? WHICH ONE IS THE ONE TO KEEP??)
This clutter collecting has always been a problem, but it became wildly out of control when I started ‘working’ at V’s shop – he’s an antiques dealer and for every two items that came in, I’d put a ‘Reserve For A’ sticker on at least one. I just couldn’t help myself. I think he made more money out of me than any passing dowager.
My other big problem is books. I have – I don’t know – thousands of books, including many duplicates. The reason I buy so many duplicates is that when I feel like re-reading something it takes me forever to find my original copy so I just buy another one, which of course only adds to the problem. The books are stored haphazardly everywhere I can fit them – inside my towel cupboard, in stacks under the bed, in a tower next to the bathroom sink, some in the kitchen. During an argument with Tosc about my lack of direction (we were lost trying to find a friend’s house) I said to him “I just have no spacial awareness” and he replied “that’s because you fill your spacial awareness with books.”
I am a big reader, but the only reason I ‘read big’ is because I am a very fast reader. I can read a five hundred page novel in about two and a half hours. I’ve always been able to do it – and people are quite impressed when I tell them, even though it’s as much of a skill as being able to do up your shirt buttons really, really quickly. This speedy-reading has only meant that I need to buy more books all the time, resulting in the choke-hold of paper that now strangles my flat. I have to fight books to get to a tin of soup. Speed has, ironically, slowed me down.
( I am wary of people who complain about how many books they have, as it always comes across as a bit of a thinly-veiled intellectual boast, so I’ll balance this out by adding I also have too many socks. Probably as many socks as I have books, if not more. Socks and books and sugar bowls and tins. The calling cards of an idiot.)
The other thing that Toscar pointed out (it’s always Tosc who points these things out, as he is irritated and baffled by everything I do) is my habit of ‘displaying’ things. For example – I have a cup of pens that is entirely for display. None of the pens in that cup work. In this cup I also have drinks stirrers shaped like animals, the arm off a pair of girl’s sparkly sunglasses (no idea which girl they belonged to), jewelled hat pins and pencils with no lead. It is just a cup of pointed things.
No cleaning lady can ever sort this shit out. She wouldn’t know where to fucking start.