Monday, December 02, 2013

A Rendezvous with My Literary Agent

Today I had lunch with my literary agent. On arrival she had misery painted all over her face. The maitre d' was kind enough to provide a face flannel to wash it off. Though a slender spirited creature my agent tends to be remote and vague. She has a tendency to walk on all fours when a conversation becomes exciting. For her, I play the fool. To her, I am a fool. C'est la vie.

'Well, what can I say?' She looked perplexed and started tossing shrewd and short comments in the air and catching them in her mouth. 'Your short novel has no plot, hurried syntax, and the title, It's Hard to Debate Anything at Length While You're Unconscious, is unengaging, let alone disconcerting'. I asked if she believed I would ever have a book published? She thought seriously and replied, 'Published is a big word.' She smiled. 'The only avenue left is to translate some of your work into English, even though you believe it already is.'

Her words overwhelmed me. I'm aware I write badly. In fact, in my first novella, Even Vegetables get Homesick, I used the adverb 'badly' eighty-six times in one chapter. This naturally raises questions which frankly are unanswerable.

'Maybe I'm wrong,' she said slowly and hesitantly, 'but I believe you should go on. Even though your stories are, shall we say, without meaning and littered by characters with the souls of sick sea creatures. Continue writing but try to enrich your vocabulary. And if I may say so, long inner dialogues, repetition, lack of a theme, will not attract readers' to your work.'

I thanked my agent for her honesty, intelligence and company, though I felt trapped and wished to escape. I remained smiling as she left. Then my mind went offline.

Good news at last! My new play A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese is to be staged off-off-off-off- Broadway. It will be staged in a baguette basket on the back of a scooter in Versailles, France. I must find bread that has charisma, that can engage with its audience, remember its lines, and can collaborate with butter without reverting to ominous panic. Slowly, I begin to feel joy again. The quality of the bread will make or break the project. My search begins ...

Reflections: Tonight my wife is doing her best to upset me. She is playing tom-tom drums with her prosthetic hip replacement implant, and yodeling Prairie Lullaby while chewing tobacco: juice running down her face.

I stop writing, grab an apple, and sit on the floor in a corner of the room. I watch my wife from this short distance. Holding the apple, I reflect a day will come when I can stand such discomfort no longer. What should I say? Suddenly my face becomes pale, lifeless. My eyes too tired to shed tears. After thinking about this for a moment, I lean my head against the wall in an effort to embrace sleep.

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Intimate Encounter with Décolletage

It needs to be said that I am compelled to greet some days with a gaunt face and heavy-lidded eyes. Sometimes my sense of the past, which lies buried in uncertainty and incompletion, pokes out and demands attention. It confirms what I discern: I crave a fresh start. No foot dragging for a day or two, at least. If the silence is unbearably painful I shall manage the chaos with unconscious humour. I've subtlety managed it before, though not for long.  

My wife tells me that I - sorry, we - live in a decrepit one bedroom semi-detached house. The only excitement entering our existence is by the back door: a brief violent storm, a mouth opening to scream, or a neighbour recalling their time as an FBI agent when they were disguised as fish to catch draft dodgers disguised as wood thrush.

Our living room wears a weary tragic expression. I look at my wife who is sitting slightly hunched. Her face is contorted and tight with anger. She was beautiful once - a pale complexion, fine full lips and long brown hair. Not now. Her beauty is well spent.

She glares at me. 'I've sent you a text. Read it.' Her voice is unnaturally loud. My strength deserts me as I read the message: I DONT DO STAGNATION! To avoid engaging with my wife I remain silent; my mind a dispassionate organ. I do not mind silence, unless it sighs with impatience, vies for attention, or makes hypocritical remarks. Then it bores the hell out of me.

I leave my wife grumbling to herself and climb up the chimney breast. No forwarding address or contact number is necessary. If she needs me she can ring the police. I calmly climb up the chimney breast. Midway I gaze in bewilderment. A woman wearing a short skirt and stockings is staring at me suspiciously in the semidarkness. We gaze back and forth at each other. 

I speak first. 'What ... your name?' My heartbeat is sharp and nervous. 

'I don't expect you to know my name, even though we've been neighbours for seven years. Isn't that disheartening and disorienting?' After a short pause she says, 'My name is Angie. I came in here to breathe fresh air and to get away from the quietness of my home. My husband lacks the imagination to understand my human body and mind. He keeps himself busy all day without doing anything that might evoke spontaneity, acuity or craziness. He is morally hygienic except where sweet girls and women are concerned. The charming creature wants us both to live out our days like skeletons. Can you believe it?'  

I don't say a word while she talks. All this confiding of family circumstances makes me uncomfortable. She takes makeup out of  her bag and dabs powder round her eyes.

Her wide, dark eyes smile with secret amusement. 'You don't look like a chimney sweep. I can tell you've been crowned with the mysteries of grip and pleasure.'

Angie's flirtatiousness makes me vulnerable. I'm mesmerized by the swell of her décolletage. 'My husband and I are not young lovers any more. I'm sure you hear our awful fights. Our marriage is floundering, quite badly. I never know where his mouth has been the night before, and vice versa.' 

She leans over and kisses me with grace and style. I vibrate with life, time slows down. I remain free of real and imagined comparisons. Without hesitation we slowly make love. It's difficult to explain the genesis and nature of our meeting, passion and parting. I have no idea what she was really thinking or wanting. Could it have been a successful exercise of power on her behalf? Was she a slave to the dreadful torment of destroyed love, jealousy, or fruitless envy? 

When I climb down from the chimney breast and enter my living room the potent scent of bonding, impetuosity and happiness disappears. The sense of isolation I feel grows into gradual despair.   
Reflections:  One source of pleasure for me is looking after my granddaughter, Lily, while my daughter, Emma, goes to work. Sometimes I lie beside Lily (ten months old, now) willing her to sleep, and watch as her eyes open and shut, and finally close. Her fingers fall free from gripping my thumb.

Before I silently leave Lily to sleep and dream, I gaze at the graceful little face; her beautiful, soft skin and delicate frame. I realise how fleeting life can be. I softly squeeze her tiny hand like a terrified child. Occasionally, I feel tearful, but am not ashamed. For what is prettier, more significant, more unforgettable, than a rosy-cheeked baby in the throes of slumber.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Big Bang . . . Almost

I'm looking at the sky in clinical fashion. It appears extremely high. I am a small figure and often confused. An article in a science magazine arouses within me a potpourri of wonderment, menacing anxiety, and a sense of extreme lightness. The article states that the entire universe was smooth just after its birth billions of years ago. An extraordinary assertion. Billions of galaxies and billions of stars. Suddenly I feel profoundly inept. Nothing new, I assure you. But how do "they" - the highly cerebral elite - "know"? 

Apparently through light emitted 370,000 light years ago after the Big Bang. I don't recall hearing the explosion but I recollect hearing a neighbour's dog barking. I'm sure the Noise Abatement Society was inundated with calls from individuals suffering from physical and mental distress. How my neighbour's dog fared is anyone's guess.

I can't decipher if there is a human being or an animal in my home when all the lights are blazing. I usually rely on a well-known technique I've perfected without using measurements of cosmic microwave background radiation. I simply open the front door and shout, 'WHICH ONE OF YOU A******S HAS ALL THE LIGHTS ON WHILE TAKING A BATH!'

Armed with CS spray and a stun gun I soar the stairs and head for the bathroom. Before doling out punishment I commonly say, in a relaxed tone, 'Don't take this personally.' Then I'm lost in the heat of the moment. The victim usually falls into a short coma and wears a large hat for a week.

My first day in permanent employment. A man waiting for an elevator on the fourth floor of a beat-up building advises me that he has been standing on the same spot for two years.

'They take on anyone here,' he said. 'My boss told me years ago that I didn't seem capable of thinking so he does my thinking for me. What do you think about that?! Eh? You're not paid to think, you're paid to do! I don't know about you but after a while lifeless bodies bore me to hell.' He give me a strange look as he stepped into the empty elevator shaft. His final words? 'Always check the elevator is in the shaftttttttttt!!!' I never got to thank him but damn sound advice.
Reflection: Yesterday I went out for a walk to stretch my legs. I returned home two feet taller.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christoper Columbus, The Slave Trade and Dinosaurs

In 1492 Christoper Columbus landed in the Caribbean mistaking it for India. As proof of his discovery he returned with a chicken masala meal for one, a singing snake and a ventriloquist named Americo. The Europeans became obsessed with discovering civilisations, places and practices in existence for thousands of years. They became fond of sailing and the 'World Cruise' was born.

Although agriculture had been practiced in central and southern America for thousands of years, the Europeans showed the indigenous peoples how to make more food than they could eat. Morever, how to make a profit. The Europeans soon discovered that guns and swords were unnecessary to control the population. Smallpox, measles and the flu were faster and didn't involve night raids. Silver from the mines was a driving motive of Spanish colonization. It helped that the Spanish Conquistadors had an unpronounceable name and looked like Cubans.

The slave trade proved a valuable lesson to the Portuguese, British, French, Spanish, and Dutch. While exploiting the silver mines, and agricultural plantations, the Europeans discovered an important working practice. It was more cost effective to work people to death and replace them than to improve their working conditions. This 'principle' is advocated 'to this day' in some management and leadership books, organisations, companies, human resource departments and military dictatorships around the globe. And, despairingly, in some families and schools.

I know - I think I know - about dinosaurs despite never having met one (not while sober, anyway). I suppose it's just information passed from generation to generation. In the West we tend to accrue a vast amount of knowledge about abstract words, for example: truth, justice, freedom, reality, and to worry about things we shall never know, no matter how hard we look, or by seeking the advice and knowledge of others.

People from different cultures think about things differently, and perhaps that is the way the world has existed and shall continue to do so. Who has the right to say the worldview of an individual, or a culture, is wrong if it does not intrude in the lives of others causing physical, mental or spiritual harm?

Perhaps we should just enjoy life as it happens and try to shelve all worry, concern and beliefs we have no control over, which may, paradoxically, control our lives to the detriment of our well-being. The solution sounds simple, but remains difficult to put into action. A human fallibility, but strong and destructive, nevertheless.

Reflections: The office environment in the 21st century is a time bomb: full of testosterone and estrogen, and rats if it's an old building. The rise of working singles working round the clock, and those working near a clock, has turned some offices into 'Singles Bars' with bouncers on the door, and the water consumed during 'Happy Hour' is charged to your credit card.

And let's not forget those who are in a relationship and suffer 'transient global amnesia' for five minutes while having sex with their secretary. This can be particularly disquieting when it happens during a board meeting, especially for fellow board members. Where I once worked a monthly lottery was held to guess who the CEO's next conquest might be. One list included females, males and a coffee vending machine on the 2nd floor.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Tell Me The Truth About Love

I remember we had passed each other during the interval. After that moment I never grew tired of looking at her. We shared a love of the theatre, classical music, literature and poetry, and an enduring interest in writers and writing. Following the performance of Mahler’s Fifth we met at the embankment, and talked and laughed as the lights of the city danced breathlessly on the river.

When she smiled with her lips slightly parted I thought that any woman would be envious of her. She wore a black dress and her mass of wavy black hair tied up. Her beauty was indescribable. She exuded a social and cultural confidence to which I felt I could never aspire. We said nothing about our past, or present, relationships.

I adore Mahler,’ smiled Kirsten. ‘I feel I’ve been on an epic journey ... His obsession with death is evident, even to me. Then the triumph, the wonderful pinnacle of the final movement.’ Her gaze transferred to the boats dancing in rhythm on the water. ‘He was obviously passionately in love. What about you? Have you been in love?’ She scrutinised my face with amused tolerance and satisfaction. 'Answer me,' she said, delicately touching my hand.

The night was warm, and a soft, impatient wind blew across the greyish blue river. 'I prefer to say hello than goodbye. Hello radiates an air of anticipation, the beginning of something either funny or tragic.' Already I felt a deep affection for Kirsten, bordering on attraction.

'You still haven’t answered my question.’ She playfully poked my ribcage.

I looked at her, and smiled. ‘Tell me the truth about love ...’

‘When it comes will it come without warning, just as I'm picking my nose?’ Kirsten recited, her voice breathy and passionate.

‘Would you care to go for a walk, something to eat?' I said. 'French? Covent Garden?'

As we walked across the Millennium Bridge our hands accidentally touched. Kirsten smiled and kissed me on the mouth. I felt my heart rise. Then she turned away to look at the light in the stars. I noticed a suggestion of sadness in her eyes. Kirsten laughed softly and breathed in the night air. 'What an engaging night. Let's make it a memorable one.' Her voice was clear and winsome.

She leaned towards me and grabbed my hand. Her smile, like the destined light of day, became a laugh. Kirsten half closed her eyes and slightly tilted her head to let the tender trembling wind caress her eyelids. Her softened eyes still revealed a hint of sadness.

‘Why New York?’ asked Kirsten.

‘That’s what it’s called.’

‘Very funny. Are you travelling with anyone else?’ asked the prettiest woman in the restaurant.

‘Hopefully the pilot.’

‘How long will you be gone? I’m already missing your acerbic wit.’

‘Hard to say. I’ve been east. I believe it's time to go west. In fact, that reminds me. I'm booked in for a bikini wax tomorrow morning.’ We continued to eat and converse, attracting disgruntled glances from fellow diners'.

Once outside the restaurant we became insensitive to the surroundings. We kissed like two lovers in sensuous harmony and balance; as if we existed outside of time, outside of monotonous existence, outside of ordinary life.

As Kirsten sat in the taxi, she held out her hand. I briefly kissed the fingers of her right hand. Her engaging face was calm. 'Goodbye, and thank you,' she said. As the taxi drove off I still felt warm and sensual. As if I was part of some secret, beautiful and distant world.

Reflections: Beauty and love are inexpressible and ephemeral. Your heart may rise as you recall a romantic encounter, a kiss, a chance meeting, a pleasure in your life; but it is just a memory. One should not live with illusions of happiness, love, or, beauty, as one gets older. For there are only moments of anticipation, passion, and desire, that fill one's life. Only surprising and beautiful moments.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Unwavering Sound of Invisible Things

Warm feet and socks, sweaty brow, half-opened soft mouth, dummy hanging on for dear life. Pale light glistens on slabbers, above and below. The trembling dummy falls. Pali! Pali! Not yet, poor dear. Have faith: a lie long known to be true. Where's nanny? God knows you love her for the right reasons. Your daddy's a strange one. Let him cast the first stone.

Forget time and listen for sound, faint or loud. A bin is moving rubbish, speckling and confident like orange tea in a swimming pool. Does no one hear it? Not the sleeper, the cow's milktaker. A small sharp cry, a change in position. Not yet awake, nor any intention of doing so. Lying still upon the knee.

First cause, second cause, third cause . . . Pali! Pali! Not yet. Have faith. The tide is out. Will it come back? She scratches her head though still asleep, muffled and huddled. Silence no longer hidden by a pillow, a blanket, a healthy appetite for a doze. Flaxen hair, rosy cheeks, pumping heart, still rhythms. Still in life, still in death. A soft sigh, wipe of the eye, change in position. Fourth cause, fifth cause, sixth cause . . . Pali! Pali! Forget time, listen to the unwavering sound of invisible things.

Warm milk and bobo aids sleep upon the knee. Change of position, the sleeper oblivious, possibly dreaming. The young body centre stage. The old body stretched out, mouth open, transformed. Upon the knee, the cow's milktaker. Warm feet and socks, sweaty brow, half-opened soft mouth, dummy hanging on for dear life. Where's nanny? A jailer bound to a prisoner. Has it crossed her mind?

Feet swing from a warm bed. Flushed face, mouth dripping, eyes blank. Restless steps on stairs, faint then still. Wide-eyed. A funereal cry. Face bereft of a groan, a giggle. Fluster flanks the unwavering sound of invisible things. The cow's milktaker murmurs strange, sleepy sounds. The old body is stretched out, mouth open, cut off from the world. Where's nanny? Forget time, lie still upon the knee. The chill night will come soon enough.

Reflection:  Similar to love and friendship, health is fragile and complex. One can protect, but not influence the outcome.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Sex Appeal of Victorian Furniture

This afternoon I dropped off to sleep on the living room floor while absorbed in writing an enlightening entry in my diary. I'm damned if I can remember what it was. I believe it may have constituted throwing photographs of my wife on the fire. An activity, I confess, which makes me smile with great pleasure and satisfaction. My wife (unknown to me) was pacing to and fro, closely watching, her soul in torment, flinging her arms in the air, madly chanting, 'People with lively minds! Little tin gods, each and every one!'

I woke up in the presence of something that wasn't there when I fell asleep. I couldn't touch my left leg below the knee. In fact, I couldn't see it. I'm heavily encased in a partition wall constructed while I slept. Suddenly my life has become absurdly difficult. I need to use the bathroom and the culprit of this inextricable deed (my soon to be ex-wife) has vanished from the house like a comet on some passionate adventure with a femme fatale. The only things my wife and I had in common were sharing the same mistress and a predilection for sitting in farmhouse kitchens sniffing the feral scent of stray cats.

In the semidarkness of the living room I hear imagined sounds and see imagined sights. Try as I may to hold my water, I can not any longer. The only consolation is that my 'little' indiscretion is not exposed to public gaze. Anyway, I've been shocked into taking stock of my life and making a fresh start. First, I require to get out from under this wall, find a change of clothing and get a cab to the heady life of town. I've no desire to become immortal, nor empty of desire or sin. Not yet, anyway.

My cousin, Charles Wanda Medull, has a natural distrust of the past, houses and possessions. He always seems to have something concealed: usually his wallet. All his life he has longed for risk, destitution and to understand the sex appeal of Victorian furniture. 

Charles is entangled in a tormenting love affair with a chicken leg. I advised Charles that he can never love a chicken leg absolutely. Nor can he leave his world for the chicken leg's world, especially in the midst of the current "horse meat scandal" in Europe. His disastrous inability to heed my warning played right into the hands of the authorities. 

Last month, Charles (who lives inside a pantomime horse) was arrested for impersonating a chicken. His honeyed protestations made him appear a sadder, sillier and smaller figure. An image not dissimilar to that of a hen.

C.W. writes to me from his prison cell but makes no mention of his love affair with the chicken leg. His letters, however, are layered with wit, elegance, intelligence, just a little bitterness, and a smidgen of horseradish cream sauce.

Reflections: It is well we cannot foresee the future. This distance and alienation keeps our hearts and minds an impotent distance from formidable defeat and despair. As we take delight in beautiful experiences, and passionate adventures, life with its motive force can deal blows of all shapes and sizes.

My seven-year-old granddaughter, Aimee, has been hospitalised with a viral infection. It is heartbreaking to see Aimee in such distress. She is slowly regaining her spirit and cult for funny, 'brilliant' things. Her humour remains infectious. For that I am thankful.

Aimee will change in value as time passes like all interesting people do.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Illusionary World of the Professional Politician (PP)

'He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.'
George Bernard Shaw

Imagine that a group of friends or lovers or, heaven forbid, relatives arrive at your home unannounced. Do you welcome them with a lie, or tell the truth? "Frankly, I'm tired and exhausted, and each and every one of you love and hate yourselves, and each other, with equal veracity. You dishonour and threaten the rest of society with your insincerity, cynicism, virtuous morality and false judgments."

Mind you, I could be talking about professional politicians (PPs). They do tend to speak unnaturally, and make fools of themselves with their endless meaningless speeches and rabbit-hole opinions, which I find imperceptible, and avoid at all cost. Their eternal scrambling for status, one-upmanship and hierarchy comes at the cost of gaining an enlarged sallow or salmon coloured face. Furthermore, they grow capacious emotional armpits which can, if permitted, shower each living creature within a hundred metres with dark tepid perspiration: 'water' and 'excreta' to you and me.

When PPs are not being driven to God-knows-where (in a vehicle with tinted windows which gives the 'deluded occupant' time to practice the art of the sudden teardrop) I have, on occasion, seen the odd PP dreamily flying past on a bicycle. When it happens, however, as one is seated at the bedside of an ailing relative one tends to feel distressed, even shocked, at the state of democratic socialism. It means cracks are starting to show. And growing bigger by the day, I might add. And by night, for all I know.

I condemn and absolve no one. You see - well, I hope you see - most PPs (when not engaged in fiddling their expenses, strolling on Clapham Common looking for badgers in the middle of the night, wearing gimp masks to house parties, junketeering at public expense, head-butting fellow PPs, conducting 'drunken brawls' over interns) are transfixed by human torment: usually their own. Don't be surprised if the following attributes remind you of some people who 'spend their time' in government departments or the legal professions ... in short, within the dazzling diversity of delicate society.

Do you believe no person exists in this world as talented as you? Have you an insatiable desire for praise and recognition? Have you an irresistible urge to judge others? Can you notice a person's one weakness and forget their many strengths? Do you enjoy rushing your opponents: putting them under pressure to affect their judgment? Are you devoted to endless meetings? Television and radio interviews? Press conferences and photo ops? Have you perpetrated or sanctioned: intimidation, bribery, burglary, oppressive surveillance, kidnapping, interrogation, torture, severe hunger or starvation, death threats, assassinations, killing or murder? Does your blinkered ideological cocktail contain a litany of nonsensical beliefs? Are you prone to verbosity when you are alone? Are you unable to resist the temptation to flatter? to gossip? to pontificate? to browbeat? to upstage others? to lie under oath? Are you ...? Is your life a fraud?

An intriguing, but manageable list, you'll agree. Whether the election laws are democratic or undemocratic you may have the attributes required of a professional politician. A day may come, however, when you are unable to stand the 'meat grinder' no longer: the lies; the jibes; the false accusations; the feigned smiles and handshakes; the doctored speeches.

Unfortunately, a day may come when you may open yourself to 'substantiated' accusations. The abrupt leap from academic achievements, political and diplomatic successes, to a hoarse shout from behind prison bars may seem austere, but apt.

Some professional politicians believe they are above the law. They're wrong. This comforting illusion which they create, and in which they exist, can vanish as swift as it has begun.


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Dead Sea & The Story of a Shipwrecked Carrot

The woman approaching me looks barely thirty. Her beauty shows no sign of vulnerability. Indeed, her persona of radiance and happiness exudes a bold piercing intelligence. I decide to play along. She is tremendously elegant and dressed in a grey melange trouser suit.

'Have you heard about the Dead Sea?' she enquires, gently stroking her auburn hair which softly drops to a fringe on to her forehead and sparkling brown eyes. 

'Heard about it, I went to the funeral.'

The sales representative smiles, half closing her eyes. She starts to talk about nail care and produces a Dead Sea Nail Buffer. When she asks me to hold out my left hand I willingly comply. As she holds my left wrist and concentrates on my thumb nail we talk and laugh. I study how she moves, smiles and converses to capture another buyer for 'that perfect nail care collection.'

'How does that feel?' she asks.

'I have entered a painless and distant land. My thumb nail feels and looks healthier. As for the rest of my body ... Well, I believe that's best kept secret.'

She produces a second product from the collection. A body lotion.

'This is Ocean Mist.'

'Atlantic or Pacific?'

'Are you a comedian?'

I leave the shopping mall more invigorated and cheerful than when I entered. Did I buy anything? No. And, yes, my left thumb nail looks quite appealing. It even glows in the dark.

This morning I finished my script for a film called The Story of a Shipwrecked Carrot. I plan to shoot the film next spring inside a french-horn which speaks fourteen languages. Like many hyperpolyglots the french-horn is male and left handed. Despairingly, the french-horn can't speak French without sounding like a wheezy car engine.

If I can't raise the money to shoot the film I'll be forced to 'kill it' by other means. If only Van Gogh were still around with his razor. I could arrange an argument between Van Gogh and 'the script', and let the quarrel take its mortal course. What will I tell the vegetables if the project is put on hold? My own money would run out in a week. The film is about fidelity, infidelity and Soupe à l'Oignon. The relationships of the vegetables are a major part of the story. In fact, a lascivious carrot has a leading role.

I'll come straight to the point. The lascivious carrot has an appetite for vegetables of all kinds. The swollen-headed carrot enjoys getting drunk, dancing the cancan and delights in attracting the attention of female vegetables. A certain cast member, Chanterelle Mushroom, will drive the carrot to distraction. No one in their 'right mind' could resist Chanterelle's frilly trumpet shape and uninhibited sensuality. 

I'm composing a letter to Chanterelle of sentimental nature. However, efforts to portray myself as witty, lucid and intelligent only serve to expose my irrefutable faults. Principally, that my writing is dull and turgid, and of uncertain tone. This similarity to my film script would only worry an artist born with genuine talent.

Reflection:  Today I painted four houses (exteriors & interiors) and put up some wallpaper. The owners' don't know yet.