There is a house nearby in Camberwell, on a side street. I’ve noticed it a couple of times recently. A modern house, straight lines, blocks superimposed on blocks with sections jutting out in different directions. I do not know enough about architecture to give it a label, but you would have seen many houses like this of late.
In Camberwell they sit obtrusively in spots between the old Victorians and Edwardians. Chalk and cheese. The walls are invariably white and grey, charcoal grey, with maybe a smudge of purple or a splash of dark blue. This particular house is striking by its closeness to the street. The windows are large and square and almost lean over onto the nature strip. There are no curtains as far as I can see, so passers by can actually look inside at the various levels of the house.
I find it unnerving to see so far inside someone’s house. The point is the place is immaculate. It might as well be a display home. Clean, Spartan, open plan. A few books on shelves, but nothing out of place. The occasional but rare ornament. Vogue Living. I cannot imagine life like this.
I never see people walking through this house. People might mess it up, but there are no such signs.
We could never do such a thing with our house. We could never expose our insides to the outside world in this way. There’s too much mess.
I pause in my writing and look across my cluttered desk. Only a few weeks ago I had cleared it completely and once again it is covered in books and papers. I am hopeless the way I work. I am like my daughters who seem unable to return a lid to its jar once they have opened it, unable to close doors, or to replace a knife or fork once dragged from drawers if unused or put it once used into the dishwasher. They rarely hang towels on hooks after use, or put their shoes into their rooms at the end of the day.
They simply drop things, clothes, shoes, books wherever they are standing, usually in the kitchen, on the table and bench and given that there are three of them at home at the moment, the place accumulates stuff. Stuff grows like weeds along the kitchen bench on any available space, bench tops tables, chairs, all cluttered.
I cannot simply accuse the girls. My husband and I also collect our items to add to the ever-growing piles. It’s a way of life here.