My Room-room is used to invent new rooms. It is furnished with a desk and a chair, and is – via a Japanese screen – in fact a sub-division of the bedroom. More ample ample Room-rooms, I imagine, in houses more spacious and better endowed than my own (yes, these exist!) would be equipped with space to trial new species of room and distinguish the really  valuable from the unfortunate red herring. As it is, my trial space is an imaginary space and I must content myself with the practice of paper-interior-design, which still, I heartily proclaim, yields riches. Some of the new rooms that have been wrought in my Room-room include:

The Jigsawery – A patchwork sort of room, one must piece it together before it can be used. But on completion one finds that the actual process of puzzling out the magic of the correct design was its ‘proper’ use, for once completed it seems no longer to be a Jigsawery but completely another type of room – a kitchen, say, or even a potting shed. Can one disassemble and then start the Jigsawery again? Would the same room result from the same Jigsawery pieces? Who knows? What is known is that it makes a great family activity at Yuletide.

The Beard Room – For excess hair.

The Oubliette – Unlike the traditional room of the same name, which is a horrid type of dungeon, this chamber is a sort of anti-museum or a palace of forgetting. Those things that cause pain or strife, or even a pale form of unnecessary angst, can be removed or just left out of this room, whereupon the occupant can concentrate very hard on the contents (in particular on the voids) and in this way erase the unwanted objects from their memory.

The Screet – Short for discreet. A very subtle room. Quite modest, far from boastful, almost shy. I have yet to determine the proper use for the Screet.

The Lunarium – The nocturnal companion to the Solarium, which would – from the influence of the night – take on its character. A space to indulge in the appreciation of moths and owls and the somber, silver beauty of moonlight and the dark.

The Metacorridor – A passage to join another passage to itself, with no other purpose.

The Bosculium – A room within a tree, composed of tree, where one thinks of trees.

The Ridicularium – A jocular sort of room for the purpose of jollity and for making jokes. The room may be adorned (if your humour tends towards this sort of thing) with comic material or it may contain objects like bananas, plaster noses modelled after Michaelangelo’s David, plastic shits or any other item that is inherently funny. If the hilarity gets too much, one can retire to the Sobriatory.

The Kerchiefen – A small closet, sound and mucus proofed, where one can blow one’s nose undisturbed by other persons or by the grave worries that afflict any conscientious participant of the modern world.

The Scruffage – In which to deposit my mess.

The Bone Library – A room to store one’s collection of bones, ordered along the guidelines put forth in the Dewey Decimal System.

The Chamelaroom – A room to avoid the embarrassment provoked by the absence of a room in front of guests. If one is showing a party around ones abode and is asked to present for inspection some faddish chamber – the red room, the green room, the refectory, the Balkan spa, the nose-nest, the interior-lawn, the supra-kitchen, the languidry, the laundry, the billiard-and-spice-room, the silly-patio, the chapel or the nervous-office, then without worry the host can open the door to the Chamelaroom and – voila – there is the visage of the expected space.

The Urgentry – For when one is in a flurry.

Doors and Windows


door and window.jpg


Attitudes of Doors

Doors are either points of access or impediments. In most cases they are not easily by-passed because of the walls, so they hold, virtually, a monopoly on traffic.

The Character of Windows

Windows are either intrusive (if you’re being looked at) or they’re illuminating (if you’re looking). In each case they aid vision and they’re always eyes – hence their name, wind-eyes.

The Privy of Perfection – or The Metamorphosis of Ajax


Doesn’t everyone have that fear when they sit on the toilet? The fear that once you have placed cheek to seat, relaxed your sphincter and disgorged, that the concurrent shiver of relief (such a magnificent moment!) will be interrupted by something icy, strange, but unmistakably a limb, wriggling like an eel up your rectum. Doesn’t everyone fear those clammy fingers slithering up their buttocks? Slithering around their tender insides? Doesn’t everyone get a bit nervous that they’ll feel that slimy hand gripping tight their intestines with a strength so fierce that they will be incommodiously rooted forever to their commode?

I certainly do.

Sir John Harrington devoted an entire book to an allegorical treatment of the construction of his flushing loo, complete with specially composed music. A great discussion of toilet aesthetics is to be found within In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki, who gives a lot more thought to this neglected subject than it is usually allowed. Important though, is the lavatorial position, not only in the realms of digestion, but also in the more cerebral appreciation of art and literature. What other place is so arresting? Luxury Victorian toilets were often furnished with a battery of conveniences: newspaper holders; pipe-stands; a lecturn for books or sheet music; a handy dining table complete with cutlery drawer (television dinners versus defecation dinners?). A picture hung before the privy ensures that it will be a picture well studied. Though measures will need to be taken to make sure that the art-work is damp-resistant. I recommend something with plenty of detail, like a reproduction of a work by Pieter Brueghel the Elder for example, perhaps his Dutch Proverbs. Or something educational, to make sure that time on the crapper is time not wasted. A map of the world would be good in this case, the Peters Projection, a star chart, or a infographic detailing the most frequently flown flight routes around the globe. Besides the visual material, you should place a list of information that you wish to learn. The Latin and common names for the flora of Great Britain would be great bog-knowledge. Or placing a handy list of the Roman Emperors, the presidents of the United States  or the elements of the periodic table on the wall somewhere in the latrine would ensure that the ablutional experience is as edifying as it is entertaining.





Six Urban Superheroes:

Sophie (F, 23, lime-green lycra suit with multi-tiered head-dress resembling the papal coronet, AKA Miss Macadam) can read the secret meanings contained in the tarmac.

Charles (M, 36, beige leather overalls, large strap-on yellow goggles and matching overprints, AKA The Amazing Human X-Ray) can see through external walls. He has distant memories of facades from a golden time, before puberty, when his powers had not yet developed. Charles associates windows, columns, the classical orders (particularly the doric), architraves and all sorts of exterior ornament with feelings of safety and wellbeing and the love of his mother.

Suzi (F, 17, sienna leotard, sooty stockings, AKA Chimney Lass) – not only does she never ever get lost, she will be able to direct you to the nearest pub, green-grocers or artisanal bakery.

June (F, 54, tangerine cotton onesie, AKA Tabitha) can turn into a cat. Every morning and early evening she assumes feline form and visits her neighbours (three doors down) who give her boiled ham. She is gluten intolerant.

Boris, (M, 31, Indigo slacks and vest, AKA The Buster) like the beavers in bestiaries, bears the valuable cure to several previously incurable diseases in his testicles. Nefarious drug companies and trillionaire sufferers of the the disease have made attempts on Boris’ life. A recurring discussion he has with his loyal man-servant Wilfred, is how obliged is he to remove his precious glands for the good of humanity.

Celia (F, 44, shebert skin-tight latex pinafore, AKA Electric Gal) can travel very, very quickly through electric, water and gas lines. Though she uses her power to get to the bathroom for nocturnal visits, she does not use it much on other occasions. It is not very useful when shopping. She says: ‘I work from home, so I suppose I’m not making the most of my special abilities. When I go out, I really would rather just enjoy the walk’