Our bedroom is my sanctuary. Now that the kids are more grown up, and never join us in bed at 3am, or 4am, or 5am, or 6am, it’s a calm, relaxing space, perfectly unwrinkled and clean. I sometimes miss the chaos and the morning tangle of tiny limbs, but then I remember: my bedside table now holds only books, (which I get to finish), reading glasses and a beautiful lamp. It used to house sippy cups, toy cars, balled up tissues, sticky medicine spoons, half eaten biscuits and Calpol. Our room is like a hotel these days, and I am fierce about keeping it neat.
I feel calmer when things are tidy. That’s why there’s no clutter in our bedroom, no bits of paper, no signs of the outside world. There are a few pieces of art I’ve collected along the way, and some objects that are special to me – a jug I bought in Geneva as a student, my Mum’s 1920s statue, a bird ornament I gave to Alex when we got engaged. The painting he bought for us, after we’d loved and admired it for years, hangs above the bed. A big window looking out at the trees is the only other decoration.
Imagine my reaction then, when the cats moved in. Last week, after one pretty pattern of muddy paw prints too far on the snowy white bedspread, I totally lost my cool. The top of my head actually blew off and all the rage in the world came out. I was carrying a newly washed and dried pile of laundry, and in my fit of pique, I threw it piece by sorry piece at the poor old cat, who was merely bewildered, and walked away casually with a sock hanging off his ears.
I’m not proud of yelling at a dumb animal (and he really is dumb. I don’t know how we chose the daftest cat in the world. It might have been because as a tiny kitten he was a silly ball of fluff with eyes). I guess I really do like him, even so. But our bedroom is out of bounds, 100%. I curtailed his range to the kitchen for a week. Reader, the floor in there is heated. He’s not going to die. And he can access the garden through his own little door, and sit in the woodpile watching the mice as much as he likes. In fact, he and his sister got so used to it, when I became calmer and left the door ajar, they were reluctant to come out into the rest of the house again.