…Mother said, “The spiral patterns on the gate don’t mean anything, dear, they’re just decoration.”
If life is a search for meaning then it would be as well to point out from the start that there is none to be had, that way more people would be able to relax and appreciate their surroundings.
The gate of number eight Teesgrove Road did not mean anything but at least it now existed for me in some sort of meaningful way. Those spiral-line pieces of metal made me think that they were a pretty beautiful and elaborate way of saying absolutely nothing…
In fact those spiral-line pieces of metal made me wonder just where the gate of number eight Teesgrove Road stood in relation to the other gates in the street and the very short answer to that question was that the gate of number eight Teesgrove Road was unique.
The Urban and Suburban Town Planners sit around tables drawing up each new uniform vision of the future and the people they have designed the latest uniform homes for move in and immediately start turning meticulously planned dreams into their own personalised versions of heaven or hell.
At some point in time between the construction of number eight Teesgrove Road and our arrival in the street, the previous owner must have flicked through brochures, or paraded around showrooms, ‘hummed and ahhed’, and eventually plumped for the intricate, metalwork, spiral-line design which was, years later, to become a source of such wonder.
People, I have heard it said have no grasp of what they do.
The metal work spiral-line design on the gate of number eight Teesgrove Road did not mean anything to mother but it must have been having some sort of an effect on her reasoning because when she finally got around to transforming the stairs and hallway of number eight Teesgrove Road the metal work supports she chose to adorn the newly scraped, sanded and varnished wooden banister rail comprised a spiral-line design.
“Ooh look,” I said when I first saw it, “the banister rail now matches the garden gate.”
“Oh yes,” said mother, “so it does, I hadn’t realised.”
The spiral-line metal work design of the supports for the newly scraped, sanded and varnished wooden banister rail were black but of the twisted metalwork slats which were to alternate between them and which had come through the post at the same time, some were black and some were white.
Someone at the Mail Order Firm had made a mistake.
“Tutt… look at this,” said mother “they’ve sent the wrong ones… I ordered black… Damn and Blast it… Now what am I going to do? They’ll have to go back, it’s no use… They’ll have to go back… I’m not having ‘em… Flaming Marvellous… it’s not damn difficult is it… I mean, black is black isn’t it? It’s definitely not… blasted white…And I wanted to get it done this weekend…”
I started laughing.
Mother started laughing too, “it’s not damn funny” she said and then her laugh started to turn into a sob…
“Try it anyway,” I suggested “the skirting board and the picture rails are still white, you never know, it might look okay.”…
The Mail Order Firm had sent ten twisted black slats, five twisted white slats and ten black spiral-line designs which we arranged in a three to one ratio, starting at the bottom of the stairs with two twisted black slats, a spiral-line design followed by a twisted white slat and proceeding in like manner until we finished with a twisted white slat at the top of the stairs.
Now when mother was vacuuming and I huddled into the corner of the dog-leg two thirds the way up the stairs so as to feel the full effect of the vibrations rattling the floor-boards and juddering the stair-well, I could also trace the spiral-line design with my eyes… and amid all that noise, with cold shivers traversing the length of my spine…
I could think of black…
and then think of white…
A Cellular Life