It’s nice to fall into the little domestic patterns. I walk into my room when I get home (which is usually a jumble of clothes, an ironing board, hair dryer) and open the little windowy things because it’s getting hot now. The windows are large but I only have the little shutter things to let the air in. And it’s incredibly loud at night. The little slats on the window seem to focus every sound into the corner of the room. It still amazes me how loud the night time world is; couples staggering home from the pub, random car alarms, even a bicycle sounds like a B52.
After opening the windows I take off my suit and shirt and add them to the mess on the floor. I put on green shorts. I lie down on my bed and have a few moments of 'me time'. ‘Me time’ usually involves picking at a spot on my chin and wondering what I have left to make dinner with. That done I get up and put away the ironing board. Susan has usually arrived home by now, tired from her day as a Social Worker in Brent and travelling back in rush hour.
“I was elbowed in the head!” She says, after dumping her bag in her room and sitting on my bed to roll a cigarette.
“Really? Did you thump him?”
“No, I said ‘Ow! You just elbowed me in the head…’”
“Well, the guy I was sitting next to was hogging the arm and poking me poking me with his elbow.”
Susan lights her cigarette and opens the empty film roll canister we use as an ash tray. Mucky pups.
“Did you thump him?”
“No, but I was just about to turn round and say ‘Would you like to put your arm in my lap, so you had some more room?’, but I think he got the vibe in time.”
I drop some dirty washing into my laundry basket.
“It’s a crazy world.”
Of course it doesn’t happen like that every night; it’s a variation on a theme. Susan tells me about her day and without naming names she lets me into some of the horrors of the UK welfare system. I put the oven on and then forget about it. Michelle arrives home slightly hung-over from the night before but still characteristically bright and chirpy. After dinner I sit and write for a while or play Spider Solitaire. After uninstalling all my games so there was nothing to procrastinate with, I’ve re-discovered this simple little game with its hours of fun and, um, procrastination.
Susan says goodnight. She goes to bed earlier than I do. I like to watch late night TV (the only time good programs like 6 Feet Under
and arty documentaries are on) and judge my bedtime by the force of gravity and the frequency of my yawns.