A week or so
Okay, time for an update on My Life, because I have no idea whether that’s what you like to read or not but it seems to be something I do.
In the last main installment I was getting ready to move and a friend had just arrived from overseas. Since then, many things have happened! Let me tell you.
I moved on the 24th of August, which was a Tuesday. There were lots of heavy boxes to be carried up the stairs to the fourth floor. My calves were uncomfortably tight for several days afterwards, and I didn’t even do most of the carrying. And it turned out over the course of the next couple of nights that something was making it hard for me to breathe at night. But those are literally the only negative things I could possibly think of to say about living here. My flatmates are fantastic, the flat is lovely, the location is splendid, and other things are other enthusiastic adjectives.
On the Wednesday I dicovered that my journey to work, when work starts, is going to be very easy and pleasant. A bus stops on my very road, and a double-decker bus at that, and what’s more it only has a couple of stops before mine so there’s a very good chance that when I get on board every morning it will be more or less empty and I’ll be able to sit in the front seat on the top deck. And this promising bus takes an attractive route via Westminster and Whitehall to Leicester Square, from where it’s a short walk through Covent Garden to the office. Which is exactly where it took me on Wednesday when I went in to have lunch with a couple of the people who are going to be in charge of me, both of whom seem very nice.
The curious case of my sleep-allergy continues to be tricksy. At first, as you’ll perhaps recall, I thought it was the damp patch on the wall producing chest-clogging spores or something. Then when proximity to the wall didn’t seem to actually make any difference after all, I began to revise my theory. During about the fourth night I established as clearly as possible that being far from the wall didn’t help me sleep by going into the bathroom and trying — and failing — to fall asleep in the bath. Meanwhile a friend had suggested using Olbas oil to clear the tubes, so the next night I used some of that while also going to bed (uncomfortably warmly) with the window closed to test the hypothesis that some nocturnal native plant was triggering my hayfever very badly. The results were inconclusive, except to establish that Olbas oil may be all very well for clearing blocked noses and sinuses but doesn’t do much for constrictions in the chest. The next two nights yielded suggestive data: on both nights I was in fact outdoors, walking home, at about the time I would normally have been going to bed and starting to find it hard to breathe, and sure enough on both occasions I started finding it hard to breathe as I was walking along the street. (I pause to note that being able to walk home after nights out with friends is another wonderful thing about my new flat.) This gave strong support to the ‘deviant hayfever’ theory. Contrarily, however, I was at the same time being informed by the internets that my new duvet was filled with stuff that commonly causes allergic symptoms like the ones I was suffering, so last night I dumped the duvet in another room and slept under a sleeping-bag in stead. There was, I think, a noticeable improvement, but more data is needed so the experiment will be repeated tonight. In short, it’s all rather confusing, and I’m starting to feel like an episode of House.
More fun that night-time experiments with respiration were some day-time experiments with neckwear. Did I tell you about this already? Maybe I didn’t. Anyway, I’ve been feeling a need to accessorize and to have a bit of swish or flounce or something, so I’ve been popping into charity shops and buying scarves and similar floaty bits of fabric. On Friday I wore a very nice long thin blue one with many narrow stripes, just tied loosely in front, and that seemed to go down reasonably well with friends; then on Saturday I discovered that a smaller rectangular dark blue one with felty flowers on it went superbly with a rather nice black and dark blue waistcoat I have, so I tied it like a cravat and the whole thing worked out very nicely, especially since it was in keeping with the Victorian-bathhouse-turned-cabaret-style-nightclub we went to that evening. A trendy-looking stranger even asked to take a couple of photographs of me there, and I choose to think it was because of my nifty outfit rather than my ludicrous dancing. If any of my friends’ pictures from that night come out well I’ll show you on some future Wednesday.
That reminds me, I should do a GPOY. I’ll just chuck it here to break up the massive blocks of text. Here’s one from yet another fancy-dress party a few months ago:
While all this breathing and scarf-wearing was going on, my friend from overseas — let’s call her Tiger — started round up our old merry band and so last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were spent in her company and that of other friends in varying numbers, sometimes in restaurants, sometimes in bars and clubs, sometimes in street-markets and pubs, and all very pleasantly. It was nice to have her back and sad to see her go again. We were very close during the couple of years she lived in the UK, and used to spend a lot of time just chatting and walking around. Not that it was the easiest relationship: sometimes we seemed like dancing partners covered in invisible razor-blades. Once in a pub we were mistaken by the people in the next booth for a long-term couple on the verge of breaking up. But a lot of that was my fault, in the sense that she was particularly sensitive to, and prone to react particularly badly to, various habits and behaviours of mine that other people probably found annoying but not so much as to actually comment on; and having someone who did react noticeably to them helped me identify and change them, so that by the end we had a much easier relationship and I was a much easier person. So this visit wasn’t fraught at all. It was like sliding into a nice hot bath. But you can’t stay in the bath forever, more’s the pity, and Tiger went home on Monday.
Since the weekend I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a pet-shop. Did I tell you I have a pet rat? He’s called Banksy. What does he look like, you ask? Well, luckily, Wednesday is also Gratuitous Picture of Your Rat day:
I still haven’t found a decent pet-shop near here, so I may have to order stuff online in stead. But for now I managed to find food and litter, so Banksy is happy (although the food is only his second favourite kind). And I’ve been doing other things like trying to register with a doctor and so on.
Finally, bringing us right up to date, I’ve spent the whole of today making two massive book-cases with my bare
teeth hands tools and flat-pack components. They now loom above me like birch-veneer monoliths in opposite corners of the bedroom. Tomorrow I’ll fill them with books, and there will be much rejoicing. But for now, I bid you good night, Tumblr, and sweet dreams.