When I moved from family house into small flat (not that small said my son) I thought I would work again but regretfully, I haven’t much which is why this burst of discussing being sixty years old as the new forties and opining how much better it would be if we worked till we were 70 annoys me like prickly heat.
I’d love to work. Tell me, where do I find this employment?
The working world I was part of is under enormous pressure from changing technology, differing expectations, a savage lack of funds and very much pro-action.
Just as well among the things the Great British Public taught me over many years of prints and microphone is that poverty is a relative term, individual in perception: mine is not yours, yours is not mine. I can eat and pay my bills though heating will become an issue as I get holder – it costs more and I need more (see “earlier annalog “wood woe”). My stomach, feet and teeth still work. I thank heaven for eyesight and the many things that still give me pleasure – just as well – because as you get older, how you felt about life is there for all to see. You have the face you deserve.
Everything in the flat is cherished because it is the first place I ever owned alone. It is not an ours, it is a mine. And I made as few compromises as I possibly could in the realisation of it over time, aided and abetted by wonderful friends. Having been married to a man with a carpet fixation, I have none and many of the floorboards date from the original (1900). I have never liked curtains – I have shutters at the front and a French style muslin affair (not frilly) in the bedroom. And learning slowly that because a plant pleases my eye, it doesn’t follow that it will flourish in my short on sun garden, I have a small terrace full of wonderful trees and shrubs, some in beds, some in pots.
The builders who did the essentials when I moved in were perfectly pleasant one to one but the gaffer was horrid, a mixture of Jack the Lad and a bully, though he did listen (eventually) in the matter of the bathroom. Understandably there are people for whom the bathroom is just the loo and the shower but I am not one of them. The bathroom is a room in which I am as interested as any other which is funny because it is small, probably why the charmless builder wouldn’t make a mess of it. I have collected shells for years (in one great glass jar) and stones (mostly from Crete) in another. There are two pictures, a lump of white coral, some flowers, and the cotton wool is in a French lab jar from the 1950s.
And for ages I bought pairs of mats from Habitat, one for the bedroom by the French doors leading into the cherished garden, and one for the bathroom. I wore these till they faltered, dumped them and bought fresh. It was economically viable, decoratively and hygienically acceptable. Until Habitat didn’t carry them any more.
I didn’t know what to do. I wanted something – as I quite often do – that wasn’t around any more. I wanted something I had had, what met my needs and I could afford.
And then on my way to somewhere else I saw a small rug, folded up, in the window of a shop selling artefacts from the Middle and Far East – and it was as ever, the colours that drew me. And it was dramatically reduced. Entering the shop, I asked to see it. We measured it and I went home to see if it would fit. It did and I could just afford it by which I mean real money, not plastic. So I bought it on the understanding to myself that I would take care of it and that, if I did, it might live up to its dramatically reduced cost, four times the price (therefore four times the life span) of a pair of mats I couldn’t get any more.
Very quickly it became one of my pleasures. (You may sniff “little things please little minds” but if the little things keep you going, what the hell.) It is the only piece of Persian carpet I have ever owned, a Sumac, handmade in dull yellow, warm gold, a particular dead leaf brown, a mellowing green, a vegetable bisque and I smile at the floor.
A magic carpet.