There are certain things that weave thematically through my life: squawking green parakeets partying overhead; circus performers dancing into the road with clubs, balls or an enormous ring; my coughing so much and so long that if I were fictional I'd be dead; and IKEA. Always IKEA.
Not only are they always the same inside so whether you are in Milton Keynes or Ljubljana you can find your Billy bookcases, but also they all have similar unthought surroundings. As if the designers forgot that people might come on foot. Zaventem was the absolute worst, where I picked through hedges in the dark and walked up an industrial road with no footpaths. Gent IKEA is not as hostile, yet still there is no pedestrian path, or signposting. You just aim for the IKEA sign, through random car-parks and hedges until the building happens upon you. It is, at least, nicer than Croydon. Which is nicer than Zaventem. Zaventem is possibly the 10th circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno.
I've been befriending the furniture I want. I look at the corner of this room and have visions of a table. Having a table seems currently to be the answer. The things I would do if I had a table. It represents order, civilised living, and somewhere to eat, somewhere to have people put their elbows. At the moment there is just a ghost in the corner, projecting back from the future. I might run to some chairs too, for comfort.
Bookcases too, are much needed. It's interesting how easily you grow used to a pile of boxes in the corner. They need to disgorge their showbiz biographies, and books about hangings, and about murder (and about hangings for murder).
Do we have parakeets in Gent? I'm not entirely sure. But then I'm near water rather than trees. In the Parc du Bruxelles on Friday the parakeets screeched about twenty feet above me. They always seem so wildly celebratory you cannot help but grin. On the grass between the paths (this park makes me think of Brazilian waxes, with its neat strips of lawn), a circle of circus performers performed to each other. Such big skills seemed strange in a small circle with only other performers for audience. Almost like it was private, or a rehearsal, or a ritual, but done in plain view.