tenses and landscapes and isherwood and laundry rooms.


we have been thinking (not always a wise move) about the sheer Chance of the Thing.


as in – if we had been born in the country of those that provided us with this (somewhat dubious but ever-such-fun) genetic Pattern – we would be speaking a different language now (french, irish/gaelic or, possibly, Arabic – how delicious and so very YSL).

and using Other Tenses like “gnathchaite” (the continuous past in gaelic) or Modh Coinníollach (conditional tense).

but due to the nature of Chance (or was it? *mysteriouslooktocamera*) we learned to decline Latin verbs instead with a Terribly British Accent.

but are those languages right now coursing through our blood as yet fully unexpressed? did they lead us to visit places we had no idea we needed to see?


we had Odd occurrences during our youth of getting on the boat train from Victoria and arriving in Paris at gare du nord quite a long while later and feeling Different.

suddenly twisting a scarf in a new Way and sauntering to purchase a carte d’orange and Actually Speaking French.

then in Ireland – smiling and seeing similar eyes reflecting our gaze was unnerving at first (especially for our travel companion) – yet somehow Right.

which is probably why we ended up in America.


because one can be Anyone here – but only if you’re from somewhere else – because the woman in the Laundry Room just after dawn rose simmered with a rage we rarely encounter on this mellow Coast – as she stood with her hands on her (yoga-slimmed) hips and stared us down while we stood helplessly with two bags of laundry (too busy writing and consulting until this very moment to do it) and she Guarded five machines. She is trapped here – doing the laundry of what looked like a full apartment (which is curious because there don’t appear to be Families here – we are all single Creative Types by and large) – perhaps she Takes Laundry In – and would not budge. We paused. It was early. But a spelt scone and a long walk to wake up might help. We said we’d return. And we did. Sadly she didn’t look like she’d have time for a scone and a walk as she was still knee deep in Folding.

Makes you think.

“An afternoon drive from Los Angeles will take you up into the high mountains, where eagles circle above the forests and the cold blue lakes, or out over the Mojave Desert, with its weird vegetation and immense vistas.

Not very far away are Death Valley, and Yosemite, and Sequoia Forest with its giant trees which were growing long before the Parthenon was built; they are the oldest living things in the world.

One should visit such places often, and be conscious, in the midst of the city, of their surrounding presence. For this is the real nature of California and the secret of its fascination; this untamed, undomesticated, aloof, prehistoric landscape which relentlessly reminds the traveller of his human condition and the circumstances of his tenure upon the earth.

“You are perfectly welcome,” it tells him, “during your short visit. Everything is at your disposal. Only, I must warn you, if things go wrong, don’t blame me. I accept no responsibility. I am not part of your neurosis. Don’t cry to me for safety. There is no home here. There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it, and you will be happy.”

― Christopher IsherwoodExhumations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtis not surprising then that we have chosen to live in a land that looks so much (in a certain light) like the places our blood desires.

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”

― Christopher IsherwoodGoodbye to Berlin

even the woman in the laundry room has now entered our brain – who is she? why so much laundry? why so early? why does she fold so carefully in the laundry room (when most people stuff into canvas bags, throw it onto the bed and listen to loud music through earphones while folding in the comfort of one’s own apartment)? who waits upstairs? how long has she been here? what does she do (apart from laundry)?

and what did she want to do with her life?

w h a t   h a p p e n e d that made her so full of  r a g e?


these are the things we think about (constantly).

it’s exhausting.

but also Rather curiously wonderful.

8 thoughts on “tenses and landscapes and isherwood and laundry rooms.

  1. Laundry rooms are like Limbo – you meet people there who are not quite of heaven or earth, or of any other region either. I don’t mind myself; sometimes you meet that boy who waits until everything he owns is dirty and he’s only got a pair of ripped tighty whiteys to wear in the meantime, but the harpies in sad tatty housecoats who want to stay and fold? THEY are not appealing nor even necessarily human and should be approached with extreme caution. The nether world of sub-basements attract all kinds. XXXX

    1. thankfully, dear 1904, the Laundry Room over here is not sub-terre (like the scary ones in NYC were which is why we Sent It Out) – but has a lovely aspect onto the street and the paparazzi lurking to see if gwen stefani has checked back into the hotel.

  2. Love the nature of California personified – want to print it and wallpaper the kitchen with it – that said, you’re welcome to do your laundry here, anytime.

  3. Dearest G
    Oh yes, language and the sense of self.
    Would the French be such a confident people if their mother tongue would not be so beautiful?
    If I had not learnt a language first in which words mutate in relation to one and other and where the written form is almost separate to that spoken would I find it so easy to hold to points of view simultaneously?
    Magical musings.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  4. “did they lead us to visit places we had no idea we needed to see?” Oh indeed they did, indeed they did. I am convinced, completely, that the sounds and sights known to our forbears are imprinted on our genetic pattern. And they know how to take us where we need to be. As for angry laundry lady, with genes in rebellion at finding themselves in the laundry…..I think you let down Miss Pym by not following her home; although, in the circumstances, that they may have been unwise, even for a Miss Pym.

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