Saturday, 14 June 2014


In childhood, I used to lie on my back looking at the ceiling, imagining the room the other way up. So the room I’m in now would look like this.

I liked to figure out strategies for moving around from room to room with the challenge of such high thresholds, and think of lamps being stalks sticking up from the floor and wardrobes just below what would be the ceiling now.

I liked the odd nooks and angles, and the white emptiness of the ceiling. A fly on the wall lives as a minimalist.

Then recently, I got to thinking how curiously wonderful it would be to have a big old house still but almost no possessions. Maybe a cupboard in some discreet place with a core kit of cooking utensils, and a suitcase/trunk containing one’s worldly goods. I thought, if all five of us in our house had each one box of possessions, and nothing else, how big the house would become.

If we each slept in a sleeping bag on the floor, we could sleep in different places according to our fancy. If the fire still burned low we could fall asleep beside it gazing into the embers. We could wander from room to room, singing in the echoes and watching the light enter and move around the house, slanting through, building and fading to dusk. The moon and stars through the curtainless widows would be our artwork, and the careless pile of firewood by the hearth.

The space would seem enormous because none of it would be defined. All of it entirely could be for dancing.

We would have dispensed with our furniture, our white goods and all our cleaning equipment. We would wash our few textile bits swiftly and easily at the launderette, and eat fruit and bread from the market, brought home in paper bags later used as kindling.

We would keep one laptop for music, TV and communication.

The garden would grow wild.

Once a week a Cleaning Firm would come with their buckets and mops. 

“Here,” we would say, throwing open our doors that no longer needed locks: “Dust this.”


Tess Giles Marshall said...

There is something rather glorious in that thought.

Pen Wilcock said...



Rapunzel said...

My cousin and I used to walk around our aunt's house holding a mirror flat at chest level and looking down into it. Great fun. The mind, seeing the ceiling, tells you to step up and over in each doorway as you approach the transom, so you step up to accomodate what you see, and your foot finds only flat floor to land on. It's a funny feeling.
Also, I suppose, a lesson in how what we see is not necessarily what IS. Our thinking can get upside down, even without a mirror.
Lovely post, I have lusted for a big mostly empty house since we moved out of one when I was seven.
I never knew entirely what posessed our parents to think a family of four should rent and then rattle around in a great old primitive thirteen room house, but it marked me for life.
I had in my room a single bed, a bookshelf, a wardrobe for my clothes and a box for my toys. The room had 18 foot high celiings and was twenty-five feet square.
I have felt crowded in every home I've lived in ever since.
Space, wonderful space.

daisyanon said...

One laptop? Really? Sorry can't see that working. :)


Pen Wilcock said...


Hi friends!


Rebecca said...

One CAN always dream :)

Anonymous said...


Back between 2001-2004 I spent time with the Muslim community in the area I lived. I would go to 'hadith study group' (same m odel as Bible study/small group/cell group meetings that many here would have gone to, for the women alone, run by an indomitable small group leader more gutsy than almost anybody I have ever met. She lived in a semi-detatched rented home and lived out the radical simple living called for by her faith's teachings. (she and her husband did not lack for income, btw). her living room (open plan living/dining' was bare, save for the calico 'floor cloths' that sat over the carpet. The home was incredibly clean and one would be greeted with the scent of incense burning upon arrival. her kitchen was partitioned off with a cotton curtain. The bedroom in which the English speaking ladies held our 'lesson' was likewise arrayed (we sat on the floor, cross-legged), with only a low bookcase to hold a modest English language collection of reading material. When the time came to eat, a tatami-like mat would be rolled out and topped with another cloth, then the various plates and utensils would be placed there, we diners sitting on the floor around its perimeter. It did not feel uncivilized or poor at all, but as elegant as the finest of dining arrangements, only far more simple and easy to maintain. Likewise, they slept on the floor upon similar arrangements; the bedding could easily be rolded and stored in a wardrobe when not in use or moved from room to room. The men were relegated to the leanto in the back yard while we were there...In another lady's home, similarly arranged, a concession to comfort was a soft furnishing divan that sat upon the floor, however, even the oldest members of said group were floor-sitters. I think I've read that in cultures where floor-sitting is the norm, members are healthier into older age and suffer less joint or stiffness issues. I've admired this sort of simplicity for a long time. Just last Tuesday at morning tea after a weekday church service, a fellow parishioner came up to me and started speaking about a craving for simplicity and a weariness of 'things' even things that served her usefully when her children lived at home.Just a few thoughts.



Pen Wilcock said...

Rebecca - yes indeed; everything begins with a dream :0) xx

Sarah - I've been in similar homes and found them beautiful - likewise the prayer hall and langar of the gurdwaras I've visited. Thank you for sharing that vivid and delightful experience. xx

gail said...

Where we live we do not need curtains. I love to look out any window and see what I love, the rolling hills and cattle grazing. I rather like the idea of sleeping on the floor. Much healthier I suspect. The laundrette I couldn't cope with. Funny how we are all made different. What a fun post.
Blessings Gail.

Pen Wilcock said...

What a wonderful view, Gail! The Badger and I sleep in the attic up in the roof of the house, so we also need no curtains; but our windows are skylights, so what we see is clouds and stars and birds.


Kathryn said...

I Love big open empty rooms too!

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx