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Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I'm at one of my jobs, where I work as a part-time PA. When I get to my boss's home, there is opera streaming loudly out from the open back door and Braid the Deerhound lollops out to greet me. He is a giant of a dog with scrawny gangly limbs and he leans against my newly purchased skirt and runs slobber all the way up from hemline to hip.

The weather is sunny and I'm not wearing tights, it feels lovely to have bare legs again. I'm also wearing brown suede high-heeled slingbacks. I totter into the house with Braid drooling all over my thigh and knee and make my way up to the bedrooms where the office is.

I have to climb through the child gate at the top of the stairs, a challenge in these shoes, I'm not taking them off though and I clamber through and on into the first room. This is an open-plan bedroom and bathroom, the bath and basin and loo at one end with a little half-wall between them and the bed. Then up a few more stairs into another bedroom where the computers and printers are set-up as an office.

My boss is on the phone, he gestures a hello to me. There are piles of paper-work everywhere and cups abandoned on the floor. It looks like he has been up all night so I decide to make us some coffee and picking up a handful of cups I teeter back across the floorboards, down the couple of steps into the bedroom/bathroom, clamber back through the child gate and very slowly click-clack down the wooden stairs. I don't want to slip. In fact I really shouldn't be wearing this sort of heel at all as I don't usually ever seem to be able to take stairs slowly.

When I'm at home I tend to rush from room to room, hitting furniture and open doors at an alarming rate and my legs are covered in bruises.

These stairs feel slippery underfoot and I tread very carefully, my boss fell down them in bare feet a few days ago but that was because he leaped out of the bath to answer the phone and then skidded on his own dripping bathwater and landed with a painful bump at the bottom.

I make coffee. Braid is standing at the bottom of the stairs as I go back up, opera is still blaring out, it's Bizet's Carmen. I wonder what Braid thinks of it. I manoeuvre myself and the coffee cups up through the child gate as focused and dedicated to my task as an equilibrist on a Pilate's ball.

A few hours go past and then I want to pee.

I knew I shouldn't have had that coffee as it always causes a dilemma. Both the bathrooms here lack privacy, the one in the bedroom has a couple of large floor to ceiling windows which, though on an upper floor, still feel rather public, as every now and then someone will walk past glance up and wave.  And the one downstairs is worse, the loo sits right next to large curtain-less window which looks out onto a working courtyard. The property is part of a privately owned complex, a beautiful house and parkland, a sprawling habitat of artistic creative souls - almost a commune in some respects - and private lavatorial needs don't appear to be an issue for them. But I'm made of weaker stuff.

When I first started to work here my boss threw up his hands in horror at my delicate middle-class sensibilities.

'But someone might see me!' I said in a small anally-retentive voice when shown the arrangements.

'Oh for heavens sake' said my boss 'from the outside you just look as if you are sitting in a chair!'

So I tend to use the one in the upstairs bedroom. I have honed my technique finely and I can now quickly strip, dart and squat without being seen. It's all in the method.

When I have finished I find that Braid is again waiting at the bottom of the stairs, he looks up at me with a curious furrowed brow and then looks away and into the middle distance vacantly. I adore Braid though there doesn't seem to be much of a brain in a Deerhound. But I know what he is thinking. He is waiting, with trepidation, for the return of Creit, the other Deerhound, a puppy who caused chaos and who has been sent away to a dog training camp in Wales to learn some manners. Creit managed to practically decimate the place before he was sent to dog boarding school. Nowhere was safe, that's why we have the child gate at the top of the stairs. Every chair downstairs has puppy tooth marks etched  into its legs.

It's awfully quiet without Creit but I know my boss misses him and will celebrate his return at the end of the week. I'm not so sure whether Braid will though.

We go off to visit a local artist, my boss has bought a piece of work from him and he wants to discuss the framing. The studio is in the attic eves at the top of an old mill, we have to walk up four flights of stairs. My clattering on the concrete treads resonates all the way to the top.

While the artist and my boss talk about the new work I get the chance to browse around the studio. There is a large print of a close-up of  an ancient rusting bedstead. Its covered in bubble-wrap but I still get a clear enough view and its wonderful. I love the twisted rusty frame and wonder who once slept under its covers? Who's head once laid on its fat feathered pillows? I want to stay and stare but we have to go. We make our way back down the concrete stairwell and out to the car.

It's a relief to sit back in the car and be driven around. I can take my shoes off for a bit and relax. Wearing heels takes effort, sometimes they hurt and my legs get tired. I love wearing them, I enjoy the extra height which gives me confidence, but this love has ruined my feet, at the end of the day they get red and are painful and look battered and ugly.

Maybe I should take a close-up of my feet, photograph them. Maybe, like the rusty old mattress frame, someone might find some sort of beauty in them.

Later, when I've finished work, I go and meet Lavender and Anabelle for a cup of tea in the cafe at Waitrose. There are nice loos there. All the way down in the basement.

1 comment:

  1. Love this. You have such a gift. I get lost in the atmosphere and forget I am reading. Thank you.