Sunday, 14 March 2021

The lives of inanimate objects

If someone (a scientist, probably) suddenly announced that the objects we surround ourselves with had a conscious existence, I for one wouldn't be overly surprised. Or maybe it's just my sometimes, over sentimental character. When I had to sell my old Morris Traveller to a specialist in Bath, the guy drove me sobbing to the station... and when our old, cow-painted Citro├źn Visa finally failed I drove it at the speed of a milk float to the breakers and, again, made a fool of myself while oil-stained blokes looked on obviously thinking, err, right . . . okay . . . 

It's the same with certain items of furniture, well-loved shoes, coats, and yesterday, the antique cooker we have been using day in-day out, since moving to this house.

the last supper (or rather, lunch)

The day had finally arrived. A new interloper (cooker) had been on order for months and was due to turn up at 2:00 pm. The old cooker had provided us with one last bread-batch, lunch and the ultimate pot of tea. It seemed so cruel to winkle it out of its snug place between the fridge and the sink and send it on its way to landfill. I would have given it away but as it was probably made in 1973, three of the rings were failing and it was perhaps 40% composed of grease I don't think anyone else would have been too grateful to receive it. It's amazing what you get used to. On seeing the kitchen for the first time the house seller had explained that the cooker and surrounding stuff was meant to be temporary around thirty-six years ago but somehow it had all remained. 

No . . . I don't want to go . . .

I totally understand. If we hadn't have been feeling flush at the outset of being in our new abode, we probably would have never ordered the scarily expensive new cooker, (enormous justification has taken place, many times, but since Mark makes possibly the best cakes in the world, we do need a decent oven) and would have made do with all the bizarre arrangement. Anyway, it's done now and apart from the cooker, everything else will be scavenged, recycled and bought from second hand emporiums.

With some help we now have the basic kitchen structure featuring the swanky cooker, fridge that was here; weird medieval cupboard, old book shelves, budget ceramic sink, marble worktop made from a worm-eaten buffet and more marble from another old buffet we found in the garage. Shelves will be added, better lighting, a tile splash back of rather beautiful ancient metro tiles I saw on 'Le Bon Coin' if they are still for sale, and a coat of seriously needed white paint. The best thing is having somewhere to chop veg on rather than the old bit of varnished ply-wood that partially rested on the now-departed (sob) cooker. May he/she/ it rest in peace.

                                                  The interloper and work in progress

Below, an extract from my new novel, The Couch. Following on from explaining my earlier theory of inanimate object consciousness, the narrator of the story is, The Couch itself, the story starting in 1975 in a Loire chateau, and ending sometime way into the future.

This extract, East London, 2010 after a wild party.

It is perhaps fortuitous that Rosa chose to have me covered in an abstract textile as most of a bottle of burgundy now decorates my main seating area along with many crunchy snack remains – most uncomfortable in the crevices, I can assure you! However, I remain, even as an inanimate object, more vivant than the few humans left within this room. The partially veiled sun has risen, its weak rays highlighting the debris of the night before. My globular compatriot has also been assailed by beverages, and some of the smaller items of furniture now reside upside down. The television has disappeared along with the laptop computer which were purloined by, I believe the term is a gatecrasher, before daybreak.

Even by the chateau party standards this one was lurid to say the least. I was fortunate to be covered by coats for a large portion of the evening – certain noises suggested the event had navigated towards carnality . . . 

The hoot of a river vessel causes a little movement in the room, and a series of groans. 

Why do human beings poison themselves thus? Having the ability to move around, talk, sing, dance, eat, etc should surely be enough. I would give a layer of horse hair to be able to do any of these things! 


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