This week, for the first time in a long time, I am getting house mates. I'm a little nervous about this - as it has been my very own space for a long time. There will need to be some compromises on my part - no whole evenings spent in the nude, no smoking inside, no washing up left for weeks on end, and the removal of around four thousand precariously wobbly piles of books. I live in harmony with meat eating slugs and ants. The ants and I have already had to compromise. They avoid the kitchen and I avoid their four lane highway that runs along the step into the toilet. The slugs I have no power over - though they will not slug the way through bicarb.
The ants in the loo are quite lovely, and often I linger longer to watch them streaming back and forwards. They don't sleep, or if they do, they sleep in shifts. There used to be a lithe resident spider in the corner of the toilet too - until my mother visited - and cleaned the room up.
I read Keri Hulme's Booker winning 'The Bone People' many years ago and, when I remember it, my heart leaps in a good way. One of the aspects of the book is that one of the protagonists, whose name eludes me, lives in a magic castle of a house and has fungi that glows on her staircase. I remind myself of this when I welcome spiders and ants in to my toilet.
What else do I remember about 'The Bone People'? and is it really true:
the story of a woman taking refuge a long way from home, a denial of her past that somehow comes back to her. A young boy called Simon. He was force-fed heroin. There must be love somewhere too. The child is damaged, but is redeemed or saved. I remember that the language was not ornate but the images I created from the book were rich rich rich.
I gave this book as a present to dear friends, which means that I truly valued my time reading it.
I will re-read it. Is it still in print? I wonder. The ants scurry.
PS - please note - this is NOT a plea for remedies to remove slugs and ants from indoor living. Do not send suggestions, however well meaning you are.