desultory

…that which goes constantly from one subject to another in a manner without rhyme or reason, with little sense of direction and in a half-hearted way

In the half-light of midday, Oscar’s living room, the room in which he lived, the set, could best be described as a room, a space, which lacked any coherent function apart from one in which a person, any person, might live, could possibly live, but was unlikely to live. Indeed, this was the room in which Oscar lived – the only room in which Oscar lived, this was literally his living room – since his being sacked from his last job as a teacher of English Literature to respectable young ladies.

It might even be deduced, if one confined one’s attention to one particular corner of this vast space of a room, the corner nearest the front window, up to a height of four feet and no higher, or else you would have to account for the blood stain on the wall and a pile of dubious photography books, that this indeed was the home of a respectable teacher of English Literature to young ladies. In that corner of the room, one four foot high pile, and two other piles which did not reach so high, of “the classics” could be found, some well leafed through, others assiduously ignored, some stained with coffee or some other kind of dirt, one or two missing their covers, more than a few with loose and tattered pages peaking out and one, a copy of Romeo and Juliet which topped one of the smaller piles, both covered in dust and the most obscene doodling which rendered the beautiful and innocent faces of the young lovers both grotesque and ridiculous.

But of course one’s attention cannot be confined to the height of four feet of one dusty and ill-used corner of a dimly-lit room of such vast proportions, especially whilst there is so much more to discover, and what would most likely draw the attention of an intruder or somebody who just happened across this place, would be the great Muslim arch in white gloss-covered woodchip wallpaper which separated the front of this room from the even darker rear. What once must have been two small rooms in this Victorian terrace had, by some enterprising and forward looking past owner, been knocked into one open-plan and modern space, all of which was topped off with the flourish of an over-zealous and ill-conceived and wholly inappropriate pointed arch which was itself supported on two red-bricked pillars of vast proportions, relative to the size of the room, which stood out from either wall just to the left of the only entrance to the room. What light seeped through the brown curtains and dust covered Venetian blinds, was caught by this anomalous shape, and was bounced off and sent into all the nooks and crannies of the room, tainted by the abnormality of its dimensions.

This tainted light, robbed of its brightness by the joint efforts of the brown curtains and the dust covered Venetian blinds, robbed of its purity by its bouncing off such an ill conceived construction, might next have caught the garish pattern of the ironing board cover, yellow bulbous flowers with a pillar-box red centre, or maybe it would have bounced off the blank face of the decrepit computer in the furthest corner of the room, overhung by a sprawling aspidistra, softly touching the coffee stained and crumb scattered key board, or maybe it would glint off the sides of coffee cups, some light being lost to the gaping cavities of pizza boxes and dark entrances to bags of crisps and the murky rich colour of some food half eaten and abandoned to its fate, or joining with the reflection of the gap in the curtains on licked-clean tea-spoons, or glinting off the unused portion of a butter-knife, the light would be finally and completely swallowed up by the lingering shadows beneath each dun coloured sofa, which were overhung with various blankets, towels and assorted bed clothes, over-scattered with cushions, both gaudy and dull, and overcome by the so many bits and pieces of life that had dribbled onto it, fallen and spilled all over it, abandoned on top of it, forgotten beneath, lost behind, hidden between and thrown at it, discarded and carefully placed down upon it, never to be retrieved from, left there to rot on it and that’s the lot of it.

But it is all now upset by the arrival of Oscar, he had only been to the shop, had only left the set for a couple of minutes, even though it had acquired the atmosphere of a place abandoned for days, weeks, perhaps months, but with the front door opening, and the sound of the stumbling, the sound of the footstep after footstep of Oscar, foot steps not thrown down but left fall down of their own accord, it was all changed, and it opened up to welcome him, at least not to ignore him, so that it would be like he was never away from it, he threw down his coat on it, and stumbling over a piece of it that had long ago been abandoned to the floor, threw himself down on the sofa in the middle of it, clicked on the television, brought the place to life a bit and pulled open, some must have fallen to the floor, they would be in good company, a packet of crisps, cheese and onion, from which he haphazardly took on the precarious journey to his mouth several greasy potato crisps, and those which found their way there, as opposed to the gap between the cushions or the darkness of whatever made up the floor beneath it, were sufficient to keep the business of life going on a bit, keep his head above the stagnant water, just as the life-like figures which laughed across the screen making soufflé and risotto were enough to keep his soul nourished for the time being at least.

Also, it should be noted, that there were many other items in this room, some hidden from view, some exposed to the dim light, which simply haven’t been commented on, which may or may not be far more significant than what has heretofore been commented on, which might not have been simply abandoned there, which may be sought after in the future or which might have been long since forgotten and as good as buried at sea.

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