It is a room bedecked with an overgrown canopy of William Morris Chrysanthemums that flourish along its sloped ceilings and gather themselves into flamboyant bouquets inside its quirky corners. A multicoloured star light sways above a capacious iron bathtub that is painted all over with echoes of Morris blooms, its silver clawed feet resting on checkerboard tiles of limestone and glass. Though Edward can often be found dozing on the stone tiles during bath time, it is a room that is principally mine. It is my bathroom and I adore it.
Lately however, I have been sharing my sanctuary with someone else. Someone that normally I would find most unwelcome. A cricket. Not the adorable sort of fellow that aided Pinocchio in his quest to become a real boy, the one with the lovely voice just made for singing songs about star-wishing. No, no this is another sort of cricket entirely. Known for its spooky long limbs and its more than irritating habit of jumping high, high in the air.... onto curtains, into beds (!)... this is a Camel Cricket, a creature so ghastly that not even Walt Disney himself could manage to make it adorable.
Whilst soaking in my bathtub one evening last week, I peered up over a honeycombed mountain of bubbles and spotted him. A horrid little fellow, sitting placidly on the molding where Morris meets beadboard, gazing innocently over in my direction. Perhaps he thought eye-contact might serve to save him from the usual fate of his kind; a quick squashing beneath an out of date issue of Vogue. Indeed, that was my plan, but as I lay there looking at him, looking at me, I decided to just let him be, reasoning that he’d probably hop away to places unseen by the morning.
But no, when I came in before breakfast, there he was. On another wall this time, but I knew it was him. The same insouciant look in his eye, the same flick of his feelers in my general direction. A wave, perhaps? So, our relationship began. He has been greeting me each morning now for a week, watching with interest as I attempt to transform from a sleepy, untamed fright to an acceptable facsimile of charm and grace. He laughs. He knows my secrets. He is no Jiminy Cricket. But then, I am no Blue Fairy.
But this morning I noticed he has begun to get bigger. Big enough to jump. Big enough to jump into my bedroom if he chose. Big enough to jump into my bed? I glanced over at the silver magazine rack to see Gwyneth Paltrow smiling serenely, and conveniently, down at me from her place on the cover of an old, old issue of Vogue. However, after brief consideration, I declined her offer, finding it is difficult to murder someone who has studiously watched you put on mascara for a solid week.
So, placing a water goblet over my friend, an slipping a tissue under his belly, I gently carried him out to the garden.
And oh, the stories he has to tell!