Thursday 4 February 2016

Private Patterns #1. From the bathroom window

Private Patterns is a new blog [and Instagram] series that creates a space for us to share the small actions we find ourselves repeating, which print our unique identities into us. But at the same time it's a way to discover that we're each a part of a larger overall pattern too.

As I mention in the introductory post yesterday [which contains lots more details if you're looking for some]:
  • it's about connecting and realising that even though we're each a unique finished tapestry, we're made from the same threads that have been woven into others too.
 It's probably easiest to demonstrate by example and so ... let me share my first Private Pattern


I don't know exactly when this became one of my Private Patterns. But that's one of their subtle [sneaky?] traits ...

... they tend to hide the weaving process from you, secretly layering up the design before you're even aware of it. Then suddenly, one day, they present you with the finished fabric saying "Here, take this. It's one of your 'things' now".

And that's how I became someone who opens the bathroom window and peers out into the world beyond ... while cleaning her teeth.

Not that I do this every single time. But enough times for me to have recognised a pattern emerging.

When I used a regular, manual, toothbrush I used to wander around the house, half-dressing/ undressing, tidying, mooching, opening/closing curtains while brushing; but then the weight and the buzzing and the likelihood of spattering brought on by the switch to an electronic brush rooted me to the spot.

Maybe it was boredom. Maybe it was the incessant noise inside my brain. Maybe it was that awful tickling vibration rippling through my nose. But something drove me to lean across the sink, grip the handle, turn it and ... push ... "Hello world, you don't mind me resting my eyes on you while I get this minty mundanity over with do you? No? Thanks."

It must be something like that because, I certainly don't do it for the view. There's no dreamy, romantic, landscape out there to meditate upon.

Firstly I tend to notice the fine, smudged, coal-like, dirt on the inside of the open window frame; complete with the occasional metallic speck left over from that time one of the works' chimneys spewed out who knows what covering the county with a light dusting of silver glitter each morning.

Which could have been the best thing to happen, ever, if not for the fear it might ruin all our lungs...

So now we've established both the state of the air quality and my housekeeping ... let's move beyond the window where I can see the rolling hummocks of moss on our garage roof and, on mornings after wind-battered nights, I can check there's actually still a roof left at all. For the record: that roof's so old it's made with asbestos.

[Just so I know: is any of this making you want to come and stay over? The works, the lung thing, the asbestos? This would make the worst ever Airbnb listing ...]

From the roofs and the moss [and the asbestos] my eyes roam over my neighbours' gardens; bird-feeders, hand-strung peanuts, a swing seat, a washing line. And beyond them the green, with the occasional dog and its walker. Past that are the allotments [I wonder what ever happened to that cockerel ... you just don't hear it any more] and up and off into the horizon my eyes alight on the various chimneys of the works. 

What they're currently manufacturing and what company name they trade under, I don't know. To those in the know, all those chimneys and ocean-liner sized buildings of industry, [a bit like whoshisface from U2], are simply referred to as: 'The Works'.

Sometimes I slide myself around, between the sink and the wall, leaning into the tower of towels, as far as I can, until I can stick my head out into the day. Which is when I feel a strange, and rare, kinship with dogs. 

Here I can utterly appreciate the satisfaction dogs gain from sticking their heads out of car windows. I may not be able to go anywhere ... but no one can stop the air from drifting and dancing over my face.

Although, naturally, it's not always daytime when I clean my teeth [twice a day, every day, what do you take me for?] And my open window ritual isn't deterred by night ... or weather.

In fact sometimes it’s the cold nights that are the most alluring. Nights when the heating’s been on all day and the air is dry, oppressive, dense. Never is the sharp black freshness beyond the glass more welcome. 

And that smell ...

You know the one. It's the kind of scent that, in another time, would drive your Grandmother to say “You smell cold. Get in, get in, get those boots off. Get in front of the fire!"

On these nights I scan the black sheet for light and movement. High up the stars shimmer white while lower down, in brothel-red, the lights on the shoreline wind turbines flash to prevent aircraft, and maybe geese, from flying into them.

And I ponder how the turbines can be there, right there that spot, when that’s not where the sea is. Yet it must be. Unless they step out of the sea and head inland dusting sand and salt water from their ankles every evening. Apparently, much like my centrally heated dried out face, my sense of geography needs a little refreshing too. 

And I think I'll leave it there. It only takes a few minutes to clean my teeth after all. Anything else is just dawdling ... drifting ... daydreaming. 

Besides ... it is still only February out there, and I'm letting a draught in. If I ... can just ... lean over ... and pull that window over ...

Come in, come in. Get in front of that fire. 


If you want to share a Private Pattern of your own ... go right ahead! 
  • If you do so on Instagram use: #PrivatePatterns so I can find you. 
  • If you have a topic you'd like to cover ... go for it ... there are no wrong patterns!
If you'd like to take inspiration from my Private Pattern try could thinking/writing about / journaling / sketching / photographing ...
  • your morning / evening routine.
  • a moment out of your day that you often take for yourself.
  • a favourite/least favourite view from a familiar window.
  • something relating to how you seek/find fresh air. 

No pressure. No deadlines. No linky. No button. I'm leaving everything pretty undone, informal and breezy for now.

Private Patterns is just a simple space for us to share and connect. To offer up a glimpse behind closed doors. To nod in recognition with a smile on our faces ...

Let's see what kind of patchwork we can make by combining our individual patterns.



  1. I enjoyed reading this ... but do you know what caught my eye and made me pause? Brothel-red ... is that an officially sanctioned colour?

    1. Can't say I've seen it on a paint test card ... yet ...

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  2. Such a descriptive piece of writing. No leaning out the window here, our basin is beneath a mirror so my only view is that of me pulling faces while cleaning the pearly whites!

  3. what a great post and so interesting too!
    Thanks Julie, you got me thinking ;)

  4. I close the bathroom window when I step into the shower because I want the bathroom to be toasty warm. But right before I turn off the water, I open the window. For a burst of fresh air. And so the bathroom dries out. Been doing it forever.

  5. I am sure this will shock many of you (it doesn't best please my husband) but I tend to multitask when cleaning my teeth. Like you I have an electric brush so the spray/drips confine me to the bathroom - so I tend to nip to the loo (followed by washing my hands - I do have some standards!), and then tidy up whilst brushing my teeth.

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