Tidy October 11, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
I woke up craving quite strong, milky coffee, toast with a hint of crispiness and slatherings of jam and wondering whether the Russian and I should get married tomorrow or pack our bags, decide that it had all been a bad joke and agree never to see each other again.
We sat down later to spaghetti with bacon and halloumi and talked of Marx and nuclear fission, work and our next hundred holidays. England, Turkey and Poland are all on the agenda and will be visited by Friday. Squeezed in some speed-nagging. Both enumerated with pride each of the communal things we’d paid for to score points over the other. Then celebrated being alive with a disgusting cup of tea – I vaguely loathe tea – from our brand new teapot.
The Russian would ideally like every moment when we’re not eating or planning a holiday to be occupied with some activity or other, preferably useful and unpleasant. Little does he realise what a nag-meat godsend it is that he is, like almost all Russians, a stickler for cleanliness and tidiness and I am a slovenly slob. We have colonised a room each in the flat. I get culture shock every time I leave his room, which looks like a neat Norwegian hotel room and re-enter mine, which looks like a room in a doss-house where the resident’s corpse has been lying unnoticed for a week and a half. His room smells of flowers and productivity. Mine of cigarettes and dust.
“Vot zese papers lying khere?” my darling asked primly, motioning towards reams of tree scattered around my desk with only some dictionaries, calendars, anti-allergy pills, a calculator and wayward ash for company. “I dunno. Probably some unpaid bills or other.”
I live in fairly muted terror of the times when the Russian decides it is time for me to conranise my life. When I can sense that his sigh-level is about to beat all previous records, I might frenziedly try and bring some order to my chaos. But it’s worthless and counterproductive labour as outward neatness only means that my system has broken down and none of these papers will ever get dealt with. For when things are as I like them, one pile of papers strewn there may be the dealt-with pile, another might be the being-dealt-with pile and another the haven’t-even-got-round-to-thinking-about-dealing-with-them pile. Whereas any neat stack of papers will inevitably turn into an oh-I-give-up pile and will then only get dealt with when the threats start coming in the post.
But the Russian is currently into tidying my internal as well as external world. Terrifying. This inner and outer slovenliness has got to stop. “You’re 72 now.” It’s going to be theatre on Mondays, swimming on Tuesdays, museums on Wednesdays. Exhausted just typing it. Basket-weaving on Thursdays. Fish on Fridays and god know what little something for the weekend.
I try to put up resistance but I know he has the moral high ground. I say it’s part of my translatorly lifestyle – you know, we’re almost writers and all that – to live like Christopher Hitchens but we look down at our hitchensian bellies and concede that he is right.
If I can get past the lashings of (sugar-reduced, at least) jam, I’ll be all lithe, lissom and tidy in no time.