Well, it’s actually me who has the problem. A serious problem. Because it has suddenly dawned on me that I have no imagination. Absolutely none. At all. If it’s not there, I can’t picture it. Which just has to be a drawback for an aspiring writer. Like me.
Looking back on it, I have to admit that there have been signs over the years. Plenty of signs. Too many signs.
Take, for example, all those aptitude tests at school. I could never figure out what the shape would look like if it was flipped over and turned to a 45 degrees angle. Counterclockwise. I also couldn’t figure out why anyone would care enough to wonder about it. But that, I suppose, is another story altogether.
Or the time when Tom and I were house hunting. He came out talking about how perfect the house was, or would be once we had knocked down a few walls and raised the ceilings, while I emerged saying that there was no way we could buy it because the carpet in the sitting room was hideous.
Or when I went on holiday to Norway, northern Norway, without any sweaters, or coats, because it was warm while I was packing.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise that I tend to buy whatever outfit the mannequin is wearing, and usually make the meals that are pictured in the cookbook, and like the items that are in the make-believe rooms at Ikea better than those that are on the shelves.
I just find things easier to picture, if there’s a… well, if there’s a picture. Or, at the very least, if they exist.
I’ve never really thought about this before. But, if I had, I would have assumed that everyone was like that.
It all started innocently enough. My beloved daughter and I went shopping for a bed. Again. We have been doing this quite a bit lately. And, I have to say, we have pretty much seen every version of the pine bed, wrought iron bed, no headboard bed that there is. None of which was acceptable to her.
And so, this morning, after visiting yet more bed stores, we, in an act of total desperation, went into what looked suspiciously like a junk shop. You know the kind of place I mean. The shop that has a single dining room chair, with three legs, sitting next to an elephant foot umbrella stand. We walked around for a few minutes, breathing in dust, and I was just on the point of telling her that she was either going to have to stop being so blasted picky or else learn to love sleeping on the floor, when she found it.
The bed of her dreams
“You want to sleep in a bathtub?” I asked. Confused.
“No. The bed. Look at the bed. It’s perfect.” She replied. Ecstatic.
I looked. At her. And in the direction she was looking. And back at her. Bed? What bed? Seriously, what was she talking about? There was a headboard, and a footboard and some railings, and that was it. Unless you counted the bathtub. And the chair. How was that going to turn into a bed?
An hour later, and after some downright impressive haggling on her part, we had bought a bed. Well, a bed frame. A French Victorian bed frame, which seems to me like something they just made up but that’s what it said on the little label. Unless, of course, they were talking about the bathtub.
We had also purchased a mattress, from the shop across the road. A shop, I might add, where they sold beds. Proper beds. All put together. With mattresses. And duvet covers. And pillows. Not to mention bedside tables. With lamps.
And she had organised for someone to make the slats, for the mattress to rest on, inside the French Victorian bed frame. Once they removed the bathtub. And the chair. Naturally.
I couldn’t picture it myself. Nor, I believed, could she.
Until we got home – late, thanks to all that running back and forth between mattress suppliers, frame sellers and slat makers. And so, she had an hour to get ready for her friend’s wedding. The first of her friends to get married. The friend whose ‘hold the date’ magnet has been on the fridge for almost a year.
Which, you would have thought, would have given her enough time to figure out what she was going to wear. But no, after discarding her entire wardrobe and with half an hour left to go, she still had no idea.
And then she shouted “I’ve got it.” And brought down a white dress that was too torn, and too white, to wear to a wedding, a green ankle-length dress that was too long and too see-through to wear, and a belt.
“Are you joking?” I said. “Look at the time. What are you going to wear?”
And then she put them all together into this:
Which looks nice enough in the picture but, in the flesh, looks absolutely amazing.
And that’s when I realised that she probably did know what the bed was going to be like, and that it would, no doubt, be wonderful. Once it was all put together. Although I still can’t picture it.
Which brings me back to my problem. No imagination. But, after a nice cup of tea and a few dozen biscuits, I have decided that while I may not have one myself, I know plenty of people who do. All of whom can be written about. I imagine.
Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)