Thursday, 19 June 2014

Notes from my attic bedroom

Up here, at the breezy altitude of the chimney pots, it could be one hundred years ago. I love the perspective from my attic bedroom. The skylight, at eye height, can be opened to stick your head out and inhale the night air. The road and houses extend out before me, with assorted rooftop paraphernalia from all eras. I like to imagine I am one of the first residents of this late Victorian abode, breathing in the darkness in just the same way, with smoke blooming out of those chimneys and a tin bath and a mangle downstairs.

But I can also see beyond. This house sits on the edge of the city. When I open the window and look out nostalgically amongst the rooftops, the shimmering, beating heart of Oxford sits to my right. I can see the hospital and it's big, reassuring modern lights, and I can imagine the people scurrying about their city business like ants, talking authoritatively in mortar boards and making BMWs. In front of me is a mysterious meadow where wildlife must roam and from whence we hear the occasional blood-curdling scream of a mating fox. And to my left is the ring road, snaking with streams of red and white lights, and making its presence known through the never-ending hum. I am liminal - somewhere between urban and expansive, between teeming historic civilisation and rampant green grass. There's something epic about it that I love.

And from above, on those all-too-frequent occasions when it's not balmy and romantic but wintry and wet, rain pounds on the flat roof above like pattering on a tent. In my more positive moments I think of it as a special kind of glamping, like I'm in a remote camp, or a den made out of the curtain round the back of the armchair in the living room.

It's the place where my dreams unfold, where books are read in atmospheric darkness. A place to do nothing and hear the cool breeze swish through the treetops. A place where cats come to flop in over-indulgent luxury. Where weather is observed from an indoor cocoon that protects and encloses. My own little magical palace-cum-enveloping womb, top of the house and queen of my own little planet.

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