Urchin

I blinked into the blankness. Once again, the Milky Way came into view, as carnage gave way to calm, and chaos had been exchanged for clarity. The glass revealed and displayed neutrality and nothingness, just stars in a pleasing swirl. No, I had not been filming the remake of Alien, but it was just as dramatic, as I witnessed tumult to tidiness in one click, and the murderous mouse was not to blame. The Desktop Destroyer was my friend the Artist, and this annihilation was all for My Own Good.

Like opening a cupboard to cascading clutter, my friend had noticed one of reasons for my staggeringly slow desktop computer was my seeming inability to trash or file images. He kindly set to work, and I dutifully provided coffee in little cups, though on reflection, it may have been less wear and tear on the staircase to have done this intravenously.

My beautiful screen of memories had been neatly filed into uniform sized and utility styled brown envelopes. The Artist, delighted with his wholesale sweeping of my photographs, showed me how I could name the files, and even bespoke them with pleasing personal images. It felt like that last look you have around your home on moving day, when all the things you have spent years amassing have been put into packing cases, and you stare at the blank walls and vast areas of emptiness that was once a haven to so many stories.

Now the cyber dust has settled, I am of course extremely grateful. But that afternoon, I struggled to deal with the overwhelming loss of my comfort screen; “No no dear, it has not gone! It is merely FILED.”

I admit that there was more than a little reluctance to absorb yet more boring IT information – I felt myself morphing into a recalcitrant teenager, and for that, I can only apologise. My mind couldn’t help but wander…wondering how long it would take before I could once again fill the screen pretty bespoke files, each containing an entire screen’s worth of clutter…

Currently we are enjoying such a seasonably good climate, dare I say it is almost un-British? For weeks now, we have almost come to expect fine weather, but can you recall a time when this was not the case, and the first few sunshine days were as fresh as new paint or a just sharpened pencil or newly mowed lawn?

Just before the giddy height of summer was upon us, there was a short time when we were grateful for scant hours of merely thin sunshine, and the small window in which to shed some winter layers, providing an opportunity to feel the rays warm our skin. The slightest suggestion of sun would have us outside, topping up with Vitamin D.

On possibly the first of those days, I found myself with the Artist who declared it was time to get toes into the sand. On a Mutual Bunbury, we went off to Maenporth, and before paddling in the warm shallows, discussed why Margarine should be pronounced with a hard G – oh but that’s a whole ‘nuther conversation…

Anyway, we wandered along the beach, and looked out to sea, spotting what looked like a Pirate Ship in the far distance, and saying how we really should get back to work. The Artist looks and sees all, even a flailing Weaver Fish just under the sand, and ready to stick its mean spines into some poor unsuspecting foot, was kindly picked up and chucked back into the sea. We reflected on whether we thought that was a good idea or not… but then! He spotted the empty shell of a Heart Urchin! To find one intact is rare and it is indeed a thing of exquisite natural design.

I picked it up, and turned the translucent treasure in my hand. It was as delicate and beautiful as anything I had ever seen. Perfectly spaced punctures like tiny rivets traced a star on the oval carapace. I declared it a welcome addition to “Beach Finds on My Bureau.” I carefully wrapped up the fragile find, and when I got home, arranged it with great care amongst the shells and pebbles, driftwood, plastic skull and Minnie Mouse in a cloche – don’t ask…

I kept saying I should find a safer place for it…You know where this is going… but just in case… Johnson, our very dear And playful And perhaps a tad too inquisitive Siamese Lilac Point kitten, took it upon himself to explore the bureau and now, the Urchin is in fragments.

I tried not to be sad; a shell is simply a transient home, and things do come and go, but its abrupt departure from my collection and irreplaceable aesthetic played on my sensibilities. I mean, you can’t just go and pick up another at Sainsbury’s, I moaned to the very patient Artist.

Imagine my delight when he consoled me with a perfect little drawing of the very same, made just days before it shattered. It has now gone of to the framer and will be far more robust than the original, and though I would have dearly loved them both, we must not be greedy.

I often take the Night Riviera to London. Believe me, this Ponced-Up-Name does little to manage the traveller’s expectations. The beds are clean and comfortable enough, and the staff are charming, but the quality of the sleeper train from the Duchy to London is only adequate at best, and hardly deserving of a name more appropriate for an Agatha Christie Novel.

I always choose to travel solo. That way nobody has to put up with me… Anyway the cabin is spacious enough, especially for someone who is um, compact.

But on this occasion, I boarded my train to find the top bunk turned down as well as the lower one. I called the porter and said there must be some mistake as I fully intended to travel alone. I was reassured that I was not about to be joined by a stranger, even if it was George Clooney, but that it had to be like that for reasons too boring to go into.

I fully admit to harrumphing in private. I didn’t like the inconvenience of the upper bunk turned down. It felt oppressive, and when I got into bed, I imagined it to be an overlarge and poorly upholstered coffin.

The cabin temperature was cold. This was galling, when outside, it was hot, but the railway service had decided we must freeze. I turned the control dial from blue to red, but nothing happened. It was just like those toy ovens; you flick the switch, and a little red light comes on, but nothing actually heats up.

It was almost too frustrating. There I was, in leggings, two tops (one thermal) and socks! While the rest of GB was languishing in bedrooms too hot to sleep in, I was almost shutting down in hibernation mode! AGGGGHH. Then I got it. I GOT IT!!!

I yanked down the duvet from the empty bunk above and became a joyful and very happy little black pearl, snug in my very own tiny house, beneath a cosy covering of two pure white duvets. So the upper bunk became the lid of my shell, and all was well with the world. I slept deeply, and awoke in Paddington fully recharged and delighted with the world.

My computer is running at lightning speed; I’ll navigate my way around the files in no time. The pictures have not gone, but have been kindly tidied up and organized. My cabin became a perfect little haven; I’ll now ask for one with an extra bed, just because I liked it so much. And what of my broken Heart Urchin? Ah, the most valuable lesson of all. Well, said the Artist. “At least now, you can see what it looks like on the inside. Had it not broken, you would never have known.”

I cannot help but envy those who live in a state of Zen like order.

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