I haven’t written anything for a while - partly because I was buried in my dissertation until Monday - and I’m just writing this to blow the cobwebs off. A bunch of disjointed thoughts and occurrences from the last few weeks.
The place I have now lived for slightly under a fortnight deserves describing. I live in the upstairs room of a house, whose downstairs is occupied by a Pakistani family. The house is within a grimy though not dangerous housing estate in a predominantly Asian ghetto. All of the entrance doors and fencing are painted bright blue to detract from the despair, like a Brazilian slum. The upstairs has a front door along a corridor, accessed by an exterior stairwell, whilst the downstairs front door is outside, like a normal house, but within the complex, as if a once cramped by cosy row of terraces has had prison/school type architecture added around it. The whole house smells of curry, all the time, and I’m not being racist, because it fucking does. I’m desensitised now, as I am to my 40st Pakistani roommate’s skewered-walrus snoring. The bathroom is fairly deplorable - dirty, dribbling shower, tepid or scolding water but no in between, flies trapped above the glazed plastic ceiling tiles buzzing in their death throes - but I’ve seen worse, and don’t officially care, just saying. The bulb blew up the other day and I had to shit by the light of my phone.
The house is dark, like really fucking dark. I can’t see my laces to untie them on the landing. I trip over other shoes like an old man. The cute little children look up at me from the bottom of the stairs when I come in, all shy and inquisitive, and the carpet on the stairs is thick green, and folds on itself, so that descending them takes the strain off my calves, and all of the smells and features and the murk in which they reside feel like some sort of memory I’m half-divorced from.
I’ve been downstairs twice, to do my washing. The kitchen is so grotty that, like The Matrix, no one can be told, they have to see it for themselves. I will not cook or eat anything prepared in there, and I am hardly a stickler for hygiene. Yesterday I was asked to keep watch in the kitchen whilst the family went shopping, because the washing machine was causing the sink to fill, and it needed to be monitored lest it overflow. But I was assured not to worry, because they would definitely buy some ‘medicine’ for the sink to solve the problem, a problem which made no sense anyway, not that I’m a plumber.
My mattress is on the floor and I have a thin sheet which I’ll have to replace when it gets chillier. I tend to wake up, shivering with cold, at about 5-5.30 a.m., and I don’t understand why, because surely it’s even colder earlier than that. I cocoon myself in the sheet, pin it airtight with the weight of my body, and try to turn my ears off against my roommate’s endless struggle with sleep apnea. He’s sure to lose that struggle one day. His sleep breathing gets more laboured and frenetic until it ceases, like an anticlimax, and then builds up from calm again. I heard him fart in his sleep last night; my farts are way louder.
He’s one of those people full of meaningless, apocryphal, voodoo-like advice, spoken with misguided, unshakeable authority, all of it relating to diet and health and thus utter hypocrisy. ‘You must have seven almonds and lukewarm milk before bed’. What? ‘Not six, not eight, but seven.’ What? ‘You need to eat lots before bed because it’s the body’s healing time’. No evidence for that. Bollocks. A surefire way to put on weight if anything. ‘You don’t drink milk? Come on man, you’re a runner, you need to drink milk.’ Well, I don’t drink milk, and I’m doing fine: healthy, slim, face not breaking into a sweat from standing up. My breathing after a 4.43 mile is more relaxed than you, sat there, watching standup, in your camel-coloured muumuu, having to decide whether to laugh or breathe, because both is out of the question (I didn’t say this; he’s an ok guy. No point alienating another person, spent 20 years doing that).
In fact, I am healthy. So healthy that last week I failed a screening for a medical trial because my PR interval was 90 milliseconds above the normal range, which either means extreme cardiovascular fitness or imminent death (according to a Google search: they wouldn’t tell me on the ward). It didn’t connote anything particularly, they claimed, it just meant that I couldn’t do the trial because any results on me would be massively skewed compared to others participating. I also have a BP of 112/50, allegedly good.
So yeh, £50 a week rent, saving about £200 a week, cuz I’m eating for free, Masters done, can get back to working on my own writing, travelling after Christmas. How much money I save dictates where I go. I live literally 2 minutes from work, so get 45 minutes more sleep in the morning, and I have to shower at night, because some tosser in the next room spends the half hour from 6.30-7 a.m. titting about in the bathroom. Still running, still writing, life still ridiculous.
Snakehips out x