Never beneath notice?

Posted on by jwebster2

I spend a lot of my time working in the houses of other people. It’s an inevitable side effect of my position as the finest poet of my generation. But my position is anomalous. I am not a tradesman to be restricted to certain rooms. Nor do I expect the housekeeper to assign an officious maid to supervise me and ensure I don’t walk muck into the front rooms on my dirty boots. Yet the tradesman may legitimately work in the master bedroom, a sanctum I make a point of avoiding. Similarly I am not ‘company’ but nor am I ‘staff.’

In many houses I have a degree of liberty below stairs. It is assumed that I will gravitate to the kitchen. Either because, if I am organising, I will have to coordinate things with the cook and her minions; or if I am merely performing, I’m out of sight and out of the way until I’m needed. This is expedient. A wise poet cultivates cooks and all those below stairs. I have chopped kindling, carried water, held things ‘just so’ and generally been useful. I have given honest opinions on the seasoning of stews, the stitching of hems and the cleanliness of a scullery floor. Thus when I venture into the kitchen I am regarded not as an interloper but as a potential asset…

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