Tuesday, January 10, 2006
The Man Who Lived In the Loft
There once was a man who lived in the loft and I could always hear him walking about at night; his feet thundering across my boards and I would sometimes see him in his hobnailed black boots and diamond patterned socks, walking close to the wall, half enveloped inside his shadow and he never once looked up to greet me. Every time it was along that wall and around that specific corner I would see him, always in a hurry. I never once noticed him either coming in or going out of the loft itself but I knew it was him; the boots, the coughing, the snoring through the floorboards at night, the glimpses of his great bulk slumped on the floor and not on the bed through the gap under his door. Did he sleep like that or did he just drink a lot, I sniffed the air - no alcohol. The snoring had been coming through like a low drilling sound, warbling through the hollow boards; I'll have to do something about that monster rolling about on my roof, I thought. What was he doing, what had he done and what was he going to do now I wondered as I peered through the gap beneath his door, dressed only in my night gown? There, he is in, he is in, I see him, his shadow moving. I hear the clump of his boots as they pace towards the door. It opens. I stood there looking up from the steps, I could see right up his hairy nose. Hello, um, sorry to bother you but you don’t happen to have a coin for the meter do you, only I’ve, you know, ran out. “Um no, I have no money on me right now, and whom might you be young fellow?” By the way I live down stairs, below you, so, nice to meet you. I did not lean forward to shake hands. He did not lean to shake mine. He stood and knocked his boots together, I supposed because of the cold. His ragged none-descript clothes gave him the air of one who does not wash or buy new, nor care what other people think or do. I wanted to know what his interests were, why, oh why did he live in this way and do the things that he did. What were his friends and where was his family? He walked a pace forward and gestured towards me. No’ I’m OK here. He had his, like marching music on in the background or something. In my self interested way I asked him what his interests were, was he interested in art, he must have an interest as everybody has an interest, interesting. What sort? “In art. Er…” he says and picks up a book from a small shelf, here look, a book on Monet. Ah yes I said. “Yes” he said, flicking through the pages and finding the picture with his broad thumb. “Look!” The picture was of a train in station, one of a series, by Monet. “I like trains”, he said, moving his head in circular shape and It was then that I noticed the posters, cards, stickers and other railroad memorabilia exhibited around and about. Any other artists at all? He looked at me and shrugged. What do you do? I asked as if he had to be doing something, in his long walks out, he had to be going somewhere, to do something, an occupation of sorts? I can’t remember the details… just a job. What did he say - underground?; he went off mumbling about something; Divorced… err… split up… with his wife… he had sons… England… somewhere in England… lived for two years around the area of Manchester… rough. Oh yes I once had a friend who lived in Manchester - rough! Maybe that’s why he sleeps on the floor…oh and of course the bed is too soft, so he‘s not used to it, that must be it. This must be like paradise compared, with these nice smooth boards. Taking time to acclimatise, getting himself used to life outside of the Men’s hostel or maybe he was in the army, the Queens royal railway division or something, and it was disbanded because of the privatisation so he found himself a nice loft room, on top of me. He stood there and I stood down at the door. He let off wind, like it was just another occurrence, every hour, even minute of the day and he just carried on and I tried to prevent my nose from showing its consternation with rubbing my hand on it, and cleaning and then I noticed that he had a combination, of clothes on and his bed had no covers and no duvet so I briefly muttered that he could borrow my futon, as a kind of good will gesture, similar to being on the ground but more comfortable than the wood, for you to sleep on? I think he took it quite well, it went down well, but said no. He started towards me and I said to him that I did art in my room and it’s in a bit of a jumble at present, space at a premium you know, otherwise you could come and err…visit, maybe…yeah, later maybe, not now though, not now.