‘(The house) largely escaped his notice – there had been those stairs, there was a balcony, it was dark, there were many pictures, and these glass cases, it was a bit like a library….this made about the sum of (his) unrecorded perceptions.’
Malcolm Lowry, Strange Comfort Afforded By the Profession
I stand, as usual, surrounded by the bitter-green smell of geraniums, in this draughty excuse for a Front Room. At least I am not so often alone, there are more visitors here. We could go weeks without a guest, before.
Some of my old companions have travelled with me, though with some casualties obviously, as this surrogate home is much smaller than the last. The austere photos of those other families dead and gone remain, and Mr ‘Affe Mitt Shadel’, ominous as ever, perched on the glass-fronted cabinet full of books that no one ever seems to read. The polished pots in tinny brass and copper are here too, huddling round the empty hearth for warmth, weary of the polish rag that She still wields so regularly. It is not clear who She keeps them shining for, but perhaps it is habit more than anything, something to fill the days.
I certainly do not get the same attention; I’m afraid my own velvet is somewhat faded now, my trim sagging over my once stately legs. I find this rather unseemly and wait for my renovations to be taken up as a Project, but so far, my discomfiture remains unnoticed.
We soak up the silence in this room, hungry for our regular Friday afternoon visitations: the slow creak of young and old bones, the rasp and snip of scissors on fabric, the tinkle of blue china. She sometimes stands at the window and addresses the room directly, not realising we listen. I wonder if there is a strange comfort in our reticence, a familiarity in knowing that no one will answer back. What a thing it would be, to be able to respond!