Saturday, 5 June 2010

Fashion & Fabrics

If you want to know how you really feel about someone take note of the impression an unexpected letter from him makes on you when you first see it on the doormat”.
And how right Schopenhauer was, but a sort of sock was posted through my letterbox first thing this morning. How would Schopenhauer have felt about such a sock-at-an-early-hour, I wonder? I say ‘sort of’ because the sock had been ‘adapted’ – cut and stitched to form a strange kind of hybrid sock/glove combination. At first sight I thought it was one of my own socks carelessly kicked-off on the doormat. But God it gave me a fright when I tried to put it on. I was pricked - drawing blood - there was a pin left in the toe! I’ve never been so shocked by a sock. I smelled it (smelling socks – smelling salts?) and it was clean. Tried it on my foot, tried it on my hand. Strange thing: it made my hand look like a submarine and my foot, a hand grenade. Talk about burning your boats! Had they got my address right? And who were they? It hadn’t been through the post; the glove/sock must have been hand-delivered - delivered on foot. Part sock, part glove, part submarine, part bomb: who the hell – at any address, would dress – go out - in this?
Eight years ago – shortly after I moved-in – I’d occasionally find used-matches, pushed through my letterbox. I thought some nutter was trying to torch the place so, wearing rubber gloves to protect for fingerprints, I collected the matchsticks in a box (a matchbox) and took them to the police. They said, "leave it with us". Heard nothing for a fortnight, the burnt matches kept arriving, but never when I was at home; then I received a call from Social Services. I was told the postman was none other than my next-door neighbour and that he must be confusing my door with the door he normally pushes his used matchsticks through! “He usually pushes them through 32G not 32H” (my flat), the social worker said. She then went on to explain that my neighbour, once he’d lit a match, couldn’t bear to live with what he described as, “its burnt body”. His bizarre condition was complicated further by the fact that he’d become extremely anxious about how and where to best dispose of these “burnt bodies” - to the point where, after every time he'd lit a match, he’d be on the phone to social services, pleading for them to send someone round to take ‘it’ – one burned matchstick - away.
A workable if somewhat unorthodox solution had been found however. One of the other residents of our block is a retired carer, who upon hearing of my neighbour’s predicament offered to be the willing recipient of these used- matchsticks-through-the-letterbox: she hardly ever leaves her flat and keeps the cat-litter tray under the door to catch them in. My neighbour – he’s getting old – must have been getting confused. I’d asked Social Services why didn’t my neighbour simply didn’t deposit the dead matches in an empty matchbox? “He couldn’t do that, he’d see the matchbox as a coffin – a sort of mass-grave”. “Has he considered a lighter?” I enquired. “That’s not an option either as he has to keep count of the matches he uses every day: he counts-out 15 every morning; 10 are allocated for cigarettes and 5 for the cooker. He wouldn’t know where he was with a lighter” I was informed.
It seems Sock/sub hand grenades are the new dead matches (burnt boats?). Socks match gloves in function, even though it could be argued that the sock is more closely related to the mitten. I’ve spent most of the afternoon adapting the right arm of one of my old pullovers into a glove. And I’ve tried very much to work ‘in the style of’ my sock/sub sender. The pullover's a women’s pullover I found on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path years ago and have been wearing ever since.  It’s been a struggle – the fingers look horrible – and you wouldn’t believe I once did something called ‘Fashion and Fabrics’, at school. I can't live with a thing like this. But I can't bring myself to unpick it either. I know. I'll post it through my neighbour's letterbox. 

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