Tag Archives: personal space

The last walnut

It’s important to get a picture of the setup in your mind for any of this to make sense.

The living room is compact, and space for something like a standard-size desktop computer, on which to try to work for a living, is limited. As a result it sits in the corner of the room with the monitor facing back into the room. If someone suddenly removed the computer but left me and my chair where they were it would take me back some 32 years to when I was banished, forbidden to look at my classmates for having told a lurid story about nose-picking to five-year-old Wendy Jones.

The way I have to position the chair means I can see part of my minuscule back garden through the rear glass door of the flat. I paid a premium of some thousands for a tiny garden in London, so that I could watch it grow with increasing hatred that at some point I’ll have to get cutting implements and/or the mower out of the shed. The shed, which I erected myself to some acclaim, is the main thing I can see through the glass door.

And, above the shed, a little old man who I would dearly love to hack to pieces with a bolo machete.

The setup involves me staring at the monitor for long periods of the day, when I’m not typing, because obviously I never thought typing would be a required life skill and never learned to do it without staring at the bloody keyboard. I particularly enjoy looking up to admire a lengthy sentence only to find I accidentALLY HIT cAPS lOCK HALFWAY THROUGH AND HAVE TO RETYPE IT.

When I’m looking at the monitor, the roof of next door’s extension is in my peripheral vision. It just sits there, as roofs do, inoffensively. And then whenever whoever lives in the flat diagonally up and to the right of me decides to go on a little expedition, his greying dome and little round glasses pop into the side of my eye and I look up and across.

I fucking have to. There was nothing there and suddenly there’s movement, so up and across I look. Maybe once every couple of minutes he’ll pop his head over the little parapet and my brain will think “What’s that?” even though it knows full well it’s a little old man searching in vain for a long-lost contact lens.

Every single time he’s in my line of sight for no more than a couple of seconds, and every time I see him he’s looking down – not at me, at the floor beneath him. Peering down, more accurately, at the floor which he will, fucking please, fall through at any moment. I can only assume he’s wondering if the extension’s roof is going to give way beneath him, walking around on it stamping and muttering “It’s going to break in a minute, it’s going to break in a minute” like the relative who comes round to break your previously intact belongings to prove how poorly made they are, and thus how cheaply you live.

The worst thing is I brought this on myself. A couple of years ago the side wall of that extension was covered with ivy which crept up and over the top. In a fit of misguided garden maintenance I stripped it all off. Later that day a little old man peered confusedly down into my garden for the first time, like a kidnap victim released blinking into the light, bewildered by the unfamiliar sights of a world that’s moved on about three decades while he was getting raped in the basement.

Two nights ago I apparently slept with my head at 90 degrees to my body and woke with a neck pain akin to that of the T1000 when he gets blown up in the metal factory at the end of Terminator 2, and making a similar screeching sound. Perhaps, just perhaps, the sudden urge to snap my head to the right could be fucking skipped, just for a day or two. But no, there he is, scrabbling around for the last walnut or Werthers Original or whatever old people drop through their decaying digits these days.

And as you can imagine it plays havoc with both schedule and lifestyle. Working without distraction is impossible, while a cheeky one off the wrist is now a terrifying race to finish before the head appears. I can now complete that particular task with hand movements like Neo out of the Matrix, and when it ends seconds later it’s with an image of a little old man with glasses in my mind.

There’s no happy ending to any of this. In the only successful piece of gardening I’ve ever done, the ivy now won’t grow back. The extension looks sturdy enough to hold him, no matter how often he tries to shuffle his way through to the room beneath. There’s nowhere to move the computer to, and I’m still stubbornly refusing to get a job, though it’s tempting to do so just to get this damnable pillock out of my sight.

So stalemate it is. Perhaps I could buy a thousand jigsaw puzzles and sit on the roof of the shed throwing the pieces one by one into next door’s garden, in the hope he’ll be unable to resist grabbing at one and falling over the edge to his death. And when you find me on my shed clutching that one final piece, unable to let it go, don’t forget to look up and give a little wave to the chuckling OAP who finally drove me to the insanity I’m fast realising is already irreversible.

The tumour position

Women carry bags. Given the design of tiny jeans and short coats, both of which lack pockets deep enough even for a small phone, I get it. What I really pissing object to is the giant fucking boulders that women currently deign to carry in packed spaces. You know the sort, large enough to carry the torso of a murder victim, with impossibly short-arse and plainly impractical handles. This results in one of two stances – the Cheryl or the cancerous tumour position.

The Cheryl requires space to observe the wonder and beauty of Le Chav. Ooooh look at me, I have a giant bag draped in my elbow crack. Can you see the label? I can carry this and take up the space of two Texans airlifted from their bedroom. I’ll stop right on a busy street corner, so you can gaze at me while attempting to defy the fundamental principles of mass. Suck it in, find a way to absorb yourself into the wall, door, window or fellow human troll who dares to be trying to get somewhere civilly.

I warn you, don’t touch them or look remotely aggrieved or they’ll fucking tear the shit from your bowels, through your eyes. With hair extensions or a Chelsea facelift, you’ll have nothing to grip onto; even the boobs detach but let’s be honest – you’ll not get close enough to defend yourself with the foot long talons. Their ire is mainly saved for women or ugly men, so chuck a footballer at them and you might survive.

At least the Cheryl sets her stance. You move through fear into acceptance that they know no better. Those who adopt the cancerous tumour however are the worst type of female on Earth, and bearing in mind the praying mantis and black widow spider, this may seem a bold claim so let me explain. The shoulder boulder holder doesn’t understand the fashion of these bags, but buys the label as they have the money. They bought it, and they’ll bloody well fill it with bricks if they want to. This expanse is then shunted up their arm until it sits right in their armpit, creating a dangerous arc of terror. These ‘women’ have careers, they wear suits, they are trying to break that glass ceiling but dammit, the man is keeping them down. And boy, are they bitter, twisted and above all spatially egotistical.

Try getting in a lift at rush hour, go on. You get in, plenty of room, everyone looking elsewhere or the occasional allowed head-nod. On the first floor the doors open, and in walks the shrivelled corpse carrying her leathery trophy of past victims. She’ll probably be on her iPhone (white earphones) berating someone just because she can. Prepare yourself as she squints and huffs that the lift dare have someone in it, then…breathe in.

The speed and sense of entitlement to the entire square footage harks back to suffragette fervour, with a touch of old school IRA belligerence.  The first swing of the bag will take off a nipple before she reverses into you, crushing your ribs or your entire face with her mass of scrotum-like Chanel. Don’t expect her to apologise. You wouldn’t exist if she didn’t work her ass off. They only keep her at this level because they feel threatened you know, and you, pleb, will fucking appreciate her.

As the rest of the lift shivers in horror or blood loss, she now has space to swing the bag, searching for her pit bull pink lipstick when clearly she could wait the one floor descent to rummage. Finally, freedom. Well nearly, as she’ll block the bloody door as she continues to rummage oblivious that some of us would like to get the fuck out.

“You’re being a little harsh; maybe she needs it to carry laptops and papers to work.”  Then explain the sanctimonious little prig-nosed bitches who turn up at gigs hunched over these globes like vultures drinking G ‘n’ T (darling). Firstly, why the fuck would you take such a gigantic holdall to see a band? Secondly, why would you not realise that it will be crushed as the main act comes on? I do love the sarcastic “do you mind” exclamations as I attempt the sideways crab to squeeze by. No offence love, but I paid to see this band, not to get a crocodile skin abrasion down my arm or hear about Sandra’s issues with her cleaner.

Mind you, at least it’s not a fucking bag on wheels. You know who you are.