Recluse

From the outside it’s a simple two-up two-down Victorian house.  Inside, all the rooms are painted plain magnolia or white-with-a-hint, with pictures hung everywhere, randomly.  The kitchen is sparse; a kettle and a toaster the only nods to modern living.  A box of cornflakes, instant coffee, several packets of bourbons and some cans of oxtail soup are lined up on one shelf in one of the cupboards.  Take-away cartons are stacked tidily on the floor and a list of favourites is pinned next to the wall telephone.  A Chesterfield leather chair, worn in the seat, sits close to the fireplace in the lounge while the sofa and armchairs, once bouncing with friends and family, are now lifeless.  A small table holds a few books, an unwashed glass and a bottle of whisky.  A TV sits uncomfortably on an occasional table, a long extension lead snakes across the carpet.  Empty bookshelves catch the dust.  Only the dining room shows any signs of life.  The old walnut is slashed and stained with oil-paint and different sized canvasses are piled on green-striped chairs.  The same face has been endlessly practised and re-worked and the house records a journey from amateur to accomplished, as she appears in every room, on every wall, sometimes framed, sometimes tacked.  His dead wife looks down on every cobweb and particle of dust that is now his life.

[From an OU workbook activity]

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