A Journal of the Plague Year Day 61

Monday 18th May 2020

I lie. The body becomes a map, a landscape of sensation. The room limits to a universe.

The main focus floats above, the slowly rotating lamp that is the sun, moon and stars through this time. Bought from Ikea, who J regards as a boil on the face of history. He believes the cheapness of furniture is encouraging a throwaway society, and that we should treasure the items we have. He would say that, being into antiques. He always mentions the design (Killå?) that keels over and dispatches people, a chest of drawers that was recalled across the world, but is still extant in hundreds of thousands of uninformed homes, hiding, waiting.

When we saw it in the lighting section we knew that was gonna be our choice -made up of several sheets of fireproof, snow-white material. You crumple each sheet and create a flower; it spins now like a giant meringue, UFO-like as we sleep.

One side is a grey, sheer drop that is the curtain, space-y and shimmering. Found at discount, long forgotten in a corner of TK Maxx, and creased with fault lines that have never ironed out, despite gravity upon the heavy cloth. The wall is blank, a tall, narrow mirror leans as an adjunct before the door, an amaryllis that takes all year to flower punctuates the expanse of dove white, elevated by a shoerack. It’s the only colour, a veridian noteworthy of beauty were it not reminiscent of a double-pronged leek. The mirror reflects the wardrobe, which is really a stack of shelving in an alcove with another of the grey curtains to obliterate the complexity. That’s it for the room, everything else out of scope when positioned on the bed.

The window view, rarely revealed is of the world’s busiest train station where we can see straight onto the waiting, windblown commuters on platform 1. Blocking the occasional eye contact (awkward, unwarranted) are a clutch of wavering trees and a modernist church, now abandoned and awaiting some fate. It employs into its architecture ‘CHRIST IS THE WORD’ in stark black and white, encircling as a walkway to the witch’s hat steeple. Should they ever convert it I wonder if they’ll recarve the letters, perhaps replace it with some kind of family-friendly diorama, just as contrived, or the usual collection of unassuming shapes -saved by the inoffense of geometry.

Sometimes the clothes rack gallops unannounced into the room (I wake to it waiting by my side), source of annoyance as a barricade against reaching clothes, or reflection. It is here today, marring the simplicity of the space with its desultory drape of mismatched socks, t-shirts and underwear.

There’s a chenille rug in front of the mirror, reminiscent of the 80s in a big round dot. Cream and deep pile, like a spotlight made flesh. Probably my favourite seat. A framed photo of A and I sits on the bedside table, dressed in morning suits, all tails and no hat, for a picnic at Buckingham Palace. The sun is in our eyes; it’s framed by fake baroque.

Behind, where I cannot see, are two portraits, one of A (kneeling, eyes cast downwards) and one of myself (backdrop of telegraph poles in the snow). I made the colours wrong, to look ethereal.

My legs ache, feeling vast like leviathan blocks. They’re shells, ceramicised over pulsating, gentle pain. The rest of me flattened and pharaonic; I’ve half a mind to lie with arms crossed, were I not balancing the laptop on my chest. My chin tucked into neck to look downward, generating a crick and ridiculousness should you stand at the bottom of the bed. The light’s grey, pigeon grey, and dampening into dusk.

Later I’ll take a walk round the block in pink light, brewing beneath more scullery skies. It’ll be chilly, we’ll talk about the world, wash our hands once inside, then more of the same, these four walls that are continents.



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