Sunday, September 12, 2010


I can see the hills from our new kitchen window. I look out. The light, bright patches shine underneath the glowering sky. There is drama and majesty where the hills preside, while the banal is left in the hands of the city-scapes, these broken misshapes and scuffed souls.

I am gazing at the hills in the knowledge I have to go to Debenhams to buy a cotton rich percale fitted sheet. Super king size, chocolate brown. Eighteen pounds.

I cycle through rain damp shining streets, standing on my pedals probably too much because it makes me feel like a twelve year old boy which, for some reason, I find liberating.

I lock my bike in the town centre next to a bench where a sockless man eyes me. I unclip my basket and, hooking it over one arm, hazy Sunday daze my way to the corner where Debenhams squats. The doors slide back to reveal Justin Timberlake doing his sultry best to sell me perfume, accompanied by a fire-eyed girl who dangles lustily from his arm. I avert my gaze from theirs just in time, so they quickly move on to their next victim.

I wander past rows of glitzy shoes, who arch their backs and wink at me. I am dazzled but don't alter my course, knowing the sure fate of girls who stray from the path into the dangerous woods with their bountiful diamanté fruit.

On the escalator models writhe. They are glossy. Glossy hair glossy skin glossy eyes glossy lips glossy teeth. I glide by them and am reminded of flayed horses, eyes wide and teeth bared.

Homeware is on the third floor. On the second escalator I pick my nose and idly gaze at the linen-clad bottom of the lady in front of me. I am delivered to the third floor and I wander into it, basket on my arm, suddenly lost. Surrounded by a thicket of towels and clocks, pans, cushions and CD racks, I cannot see the bed bit and fear I am in the wrong place. I am too involved in my own dreamy experience to want to ask for help so instead I wander, my eyes caught by sequined cushions offering me a more glamorous sitting life and thick piled rugs promising an eternity of cosy comfort.

Eventually I see the sheets, and study the array. I bend down to pick one up and read aloud from the label. "Cotton rich percale fitted sheet. Super king size. Eighteen pounds."

I can't see where it says that it is chocolate-coloured. It is definitely brown, but I don't want to get home and find out that what I assumed to be chocolate is actually shit.

A tiny label on the back reassures me, so I buy it.

Out. Past the oily models, past the pouting shoes, past Justin (who is still turning his snake-hipped charms on everyone who dares to enter) and out, into my own bright light patch.

I wheel home, standing up on the pedals. Up, up into the new flat. I go to the kitchen and realize I am sweating slightly. I look out of the window, past the razor sharp angles of the city. I look to the horizon where, I realize, the hills are rolling with laughter.