January 3rd, 2008


I had a cold. It went away. Then it came back again. In the brief interval when I didn't have a cold I got all fired up and did some housework. "There you are," said Ailz. " You stirred up all that dust and now you've given yourself rhinitis."

Could be. 

Can I use this as an excuse for never picking up a duster again?

No- because there are little pills to treat the condition. I've just popped one. And actually I'm quite a fastidious person. I don't mind dust and think piles of books and papers enhance a room- but I don't like it when things become sordid and start to smell. 

A house is an expression of the self, a second body, a vehicle for personality- which is why novelists think it worth describing the rooms in which their characters live. A tidy room shows a tidy mind. Francis Bacon, the painter of screaming popes and decaying flesh and men humping one another on rumpled beds, lived in an absolute pigsty- as you can see from pictures of his studio. Well of course he did.

Ailz sometimes mutters darkly about hiring someone to come in and clean. I react with panic. I don't want a stranger handling my things. Everything is just where it ought to be until I choose to rearrange it. Bleaagh, get your mucky hands off!

Ailz, I should hasten to point out, is no tidier than I am. She may in fact be worse. And most of the time she's quite happy to live  in bohemian disorder. It's just that every so often she gets these cravings for the house beautiful- which I dismiss as an atavism.

We keep one room all neat and tidy for receiving guests. It's very nice. And- guess what- we hardly ever use it. I took a book in there yesterday and sat for fifteen minutes or so in a comfy chair- then got up and left.  I missed my clutter. The prettiness made me feel uneasy.

The room we mainly live in looks like this. 

It's home. And as long as there's still a space where I can safely balance my teacup I don't see any need to change it.