As I have now been living in Mat Fleeting for a fair while, the weird and the wonderful no longer faze me. This could be viewed as rather sad and regrettable, in that the enchanted amazement I used to experience when encountering the bizarre has grown to become merely the mundane and everyday. But actually this is rather marvellous in itself. The surreal is now hyper-real. I am at one with madness.
When watching a programme about children's illustrated books, as one does of an evening on board the rickety raft of Old Clem, talk turned to the masterpiece that is Each Peach Pear Plum. Tom Thumb was shown to be, naturally, in the cupboard of Mother Hubbard. And he was eating jam out of a jar roughly the size of himself (incidentally, this is Old Clem's idea of heaven) with a big shovel-like spoon. I went to the fridge for mid-programme sustenance and, what do you know, there was the Little'un himself - Tommy nabbing our extensive collection of jams. The wee little chap was quite at home in the cavernous container of delights that is our fridge, smacking his lips happily and sampling the homemade raspberry conserve, a personal favourite. Of course, I didn't hesitate to offer him a slice of bread and glass of milk to accompany the jam (Old Clem was so proud of my polite hospitality; he has taught me well), then sent him on his merry little way back to the land of nursery rhymes as it was past his bedtime.
This whole episode did not surprise me one bit because we are well-used to unusual kitchen visitors. There is an odd buzzing that emanates from the freezer every so often. Without warning, a violent aural attack descends, a sinister disembodied humming. We have come to the conclusion that there must be some form of hornet's nest built amongst the peas and pizza. There is no other explanation. They can get driven into a buzzing frenzy now and then, shivering their little stripes off in the chilly depths, eager to get out and join our chit-chat over tea and crumpets in the kitchen. Interestingly, it's when the honey is being spread that the buzzing becomes particularly prominent and over-enthusiastic I have noticed. Perhaps one day we shall let them out to fly freely, but I fear they may get too excited and sting us in a flurry of disorientation as they are let loose into the warmth. Best to keep them lying dormant, next to the sausages.
Talking of cold places, my wardrobe seems to have its own micro-climate. No matter how toasty it gets in our humble abode, it remains 'Brrrrrr!'-inducingly chilly. I have to brace myself for the snatching of clothes each morning, often hastily grabbing whatever is nearest, making for some rather eclectic outfits. It does mean that it doubles up pretty well as a larder - one to rival Mother Hubbard's in fact. I like to believe that it gets so cold due to it actually being a portal to Narnia. The eternal winter that reigns in that magical land is bound to cause the entrance to be a bit nippy. Alas, there are no glamorous fur coats at the back like there were hanging in the original wardrobe, only green silk pyjamas and red Princess dresses. Nevertheless, I am honoured to have a doorway into such a supercool other world in my bedroom. I'm sure I hear Aslan growling from within sometimes (though, admittedly, this could just be C from the next room), and I expect to be visited by a talking faun bearing Turkish delight any day now. Of course in my Narnia there is DEFINITELY Christmas. What is winter without Christmas after all?
I love that this all seems perfectly natural and normal to me. The bosom of Mat Fleeting is a comforting yet extraordinary place in which to be nestled.