Tuesday, 5 July 2011


This is something I leave, because, just like everything else, the moment I start it I will get obsessed with it and not be able to stop. I know this from past experience. In order to avoid this utter saturation of my universe, I leave everything for weeks, sometimes months - generally months, if not years. The bathroom floor is covered with dead lace and jumpers and underwear, they used to be in baskets but have overflowed, and there’s a bucket with black clothes in it soaking, it’s been soaking for weeks and there’s a ring of slime round the rim and the water is brackish and has a film on it and instead of feeling guilty I just say, ‘wait’ to it all. The creatures grudgingly acknowledge this because they know what will happen when I get going. Which I am about to do, which is why this post is short. Firstly, I’ll do the bed, which is hard enough because there are so many things in it, but eventually I’ll worm my way through the Cranach postcards and the ashtrays and the letters and the novel and the Baudelaire and the Gaitskill and get to the sheets and the mattress cover and put all that in the machine with Vanish because of the wine stains and the abuse, and then I’ll re-wash everything in the sinister black bucket, put new Daz in, even wash it twice, and tenderly attend to every single item, and then I’ll put fabric softener for the final rinse and then I’ll hang everything out beautifully so all the little black knickers are arranged nicely and are amongst friends (most of my untidiness is about loneliness, which is why things are gathered in groups so they never have to face the solitude I do, but they of course match and I do not, so you could say my clothes are a demonstration of what my life would be like were there a community of people who fitted me), and then I’ll get hold of all the white camisoles and Broderie Anglaise fichus and lace tops, which will have to soak in wine stain remover for six hours (it works, by the way, so throw as much red wine all over yourself as you like, even if it’s Victorian lace); the trouble with the antique stuff isn’t the wine, it’s the ripping; nearly everything gets a little torn, even with my being neat and graceful and tiny and avoiding violent encounters, it still gets torn, so it has to be sewn, and there are baskets, actually drawers, and shelves, full of clothes waiting for repairs that go back years, decades even. In fact, I could just sit in my house and do repairs for another four years and nothing else and it still wouldn’t be done. But the whole sewing issue is for another day, particularly as I don’t have a sewing machine so everything has to be done by hand - most of the clothes’ washing is done by hand too as everything’s too fragile for the machine - in fact so am I and should probably re-title this ‘too fragile for the machine’. OK, sorry that is it, I have to clear the computer off the bed to get to the sheets and start re-soaking the black stuff which has probably gone mouldy sitting around in rancid water, but this is transformable. Once I’ve done the black bucket and the violated sheets and the hurt lace, then I’ll get onto the colours, and I’m so fervent and accurate I don’t just have blue, purple, red, say, I even have special subsections for shades of red or blue or purple, and yellow and pink. A psychiatrist told me that I was a perfectionist, ‘and the problem with perfectionists is they never get anything done.’ She had not counted on me, who sits there waiting for inspiration to strike, more or less gloomy for a long while, staking the job, and then one day, inspiration does strike and I do everything. Today is that day. I think - I may be wrong, but I think - this is tarantula logic because all they do is sit in a cave under the ground, unmoving, barely even breathing, and sipping at water occasionally, not rushing about, maybe the odd bit of sewing just to keep the place warm, years of this brooding, and then one day, a sudden call from the wild and they rush upstairs and grab the lizard, shoot him full of poison with their terrible fangs and start drinking his guts which have been turned into soup by the poison. Tarantulas can go without food for two years. I’m like that, but I have more prey to think of than merely lizards, though it’s the same principle: total inaction for a long, long time and then sudden, efficient moves of brilliant co-ordination and effortless precision, then back to the slump.

1 comment:

  1. You have found beauty in the mundane here, Jessica. One of my favourite pieces; deceptively simple.
    Also rather erotic - all this Victorian lace and Broderie Anglaise being lovingly caressed and gently bathed...!
    I love the idea of untidiness being about loneliness. I can relate to that.