In Thoreau’s classic, Walden, the protagonist in 1850’s Massachusetts adopts simplistic living. It has set me fantasising about building my own house, tending crops, shaving with a big knife, living off woodchucks . . . <googles ‘woodchucks’, has second thoughts> . . . a life of solitude amongst the natural world! Then when you’re faced with six weeks alone during a Victorian lockdown you start having doubts, wondering when you’re going to next strike up a face-to-face conversation.
‘Wow! That is fascinating! So, what happens after you go to Unit 35?
‘I visit Unit 36’
‘Oh right, of course. Just like that eh? Amazing. What a life you lead! Then what?’
‘Well, I then deliver the post to Unit 37’
But one has to make hay whilst the sun shines behind those Melbourne clouds, and so winter-cleaning has started in earnest. A bottle jack for a car I don’t own, two deflated footballs, wires and cables for devices long broken, and fifteen thousand bottles of shampoo. The number of hotels I must have been in and snuck away with a small bottle, I’m surprised I even bathed in the damned place. If there’s a shampoo net deficit in the world, my bathroom cupboard has the answers. I have three large tubes of toothpaste and pretty sure I still only possess the single set of teeth. The kitchen remains a mystery. I opened the bottom draw and a tsunami of plastic bags fell out. In a cupboard I found three bottles of vanilla essence, despite not baking and never having once used vanilla essence – the latter clearly self-evident. Bags of bay leaves, they seem indestructible! And an emergency can of beetroot slices remains ready and available for that time when . . . back in the cupboard you go.
‘Give me a lever long enough and I shall move the world!’, chimed Archimedes – may I introduce you to the jar of treacle that has barnacled itself to a shelf? The treacle isn’t even opened, yet somehow contrived to sally out of the tub and just quietly sit in wait, patiently biding its time and harnessing itself to the cupboards. I contemplated just replacing the entire kitchen. I eventually had to use threats, expletives and a big knife to cleave it free.
The six weeks has already become five weeks and four days, so there are plenty of positives. I plan to be as productive as possible. I’ll finish the first draft of the second book, enter some photo competitions, continue to make tea on an industrial scale and take mooching around the flat to a professional level. Feeling under the weather this morning, I took a moment, got myself together and embarked on three noble errands to then find the Post Office is now closed on Saturdays, the market pop-up stall taking photos of your iris is abandoned, and the supermarket is too packed for me to get any vanilla essence. The sashaying rain was inevitable, really. Let me google ‘woodchucks’ just one more time.
Writing and writing...