Sometimes the house takes on a desolate air. (As if you left three months ago and time has stroked a finger through the dust you left behind). Sometimes each room declares itself depressed and hovers around the housekeepers heart, slovenly and maudlin. Sometimes it is a cosy hug. A wallpaper lined snuggle. An infrastructure of bricks, mortar and history created only to laugh at your jokes and wrap warmth around your pimply skin like an apricot satin eiderdown.
Today it is none of those things. Today it is a burnt soup prison. A place swimming in the raspberry rosewater jelly juice you dropped again on the way to the fridge. Now splattered up the walls like a scene from a grisly murder. Today this little house is drawing in its flocked green breath and gearing up to betray you to a visiting five year old. A child who will go back to his mother and declare with all the innocence of a fluttery blonde angel that “she fed us hairy rabbit shaped jelly and lets spiders live in cobwebby housing estates on the ceiling”…
Today you don’t much care. Sometimes you take on a desolate air. (Because your mind has gone trawling through New England). You don’t have any more nails left to bite and your dreams are peopled by strangers wearing vulgar hats. Your son says he wants to crawl inside your jumper and live in your tummy. He wants, he says, to see what you see. You blow away the prickles of claustrophobia even as you squeeze him tighter and touch his skin with your teeth.
Occasionally the road to rack and ruin calls your name. A silky gown and a naughty smile? You think about marmite crisps more than you should. Today (whisper it) you are wearing yesterdays socks.
Now you are in the fluorescent lit kitchen, separating icy cold spears of broccoli and crunching an apple, shocking yourself by breaking the rule of a lifetime by eating fruit after dark. Next door, you can hear the irritated hum of marital argument. But here the entire house is ringing with the giggles of childhood devilment and it is catching. In a moment of adult abandonment you laugh too. First a titter then a downright guffaw. The radiators clank along with you. The house is falling down. Your roof is letting in…
There can be no soup. It is flavoured by charred pan. But there is a cheese and mustard scone, a sliver of salami, some rosewater jelly, a handful of pistachios and a dribble of Shiraz.
A feast! A veritable fiddly feast for a leftover Princess.