My muse at the moment is a masonry drill, interlaced with the robust soundtrack from the bathroom fitter’s radio and power tools. My house is festooned with dustsheets and off-shelf books piled high. Plumber’s materials and boxes of new sanitaryware promise the bathroom of my dreams. If I dreamed of bathrooms, which I do not. But it will be some while before I have the luxury of quiet. Tomorrow, I am told, some men will come and dig up my garden, for a broadband cable. Fibre – at last – has come to this remote corner of Cumbria. The kiddies will be pleased. That no one told us this was happening, is incidental, as things often are. Knowledge gives a sense of order, even if it is beyond one’s control. It is deceptive.
It is also the season of Christmas baking. Cakes and mincemeat, always homemade, but not improved for a spicing of cement dust or fibreglass from the loft. I shut the kitchen door, dream of a degree of order, and a quiet corner to read and enjoy a cup – or glass – of something, with or without a mince pie.
It is fortunate, perhaps, that I am writing of a dystopia right now, the smell of damp sandstone dust and plaster brings the notion of dereliction. My dystopian bathroom is cold, with peeling green paint, and has the dripping iron pipes of imagined institutions. It smells of mould, decayed flesh and corroded metal. The sanitaryware is stained and chipped chipped, the plugholes and drains drop downwards to some kind of dark pit, where foul black slime accumulates. Even dystopias need bathrooms!
For fun, I post a darkly silly poem about bathrooms, and spiders.
Close up in your mirror, eye to eye,
you fear the mascara’d spider.
Her hefty lashes flirt. She loves you.
You love her not.
She shimmies on the glass;
her doppelganger shivers a perfect mirage.
With the vacuum cleaner you whisk her cruelly
from your sparkling bathroom
to the hidden prison of the dust bag.
You hope for absolution as you wash, and pray
that she does not pay her ransom in dust-coated coins.
But, really, you hope that she is dead.
With a towel on your head, you imagine
the filthy wraith seeking vengeance.
You cleanse your skin until it stings,
and apply your make-up,
noticing the fine dust
that powders your lashes.