Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I am *clean*

I've now been home from Kentwell for a few hours and - already - the experience is fading. It's amazing: when I'm at Kentwell it's hard to remember that I have a normal life in the real world, one in which there's electricity and running water; when I'm home from the manor life there assumes a hazy unrealness, as if it's something I've been told about, that happened to someone else.

I primarily remember Kentwell in little chunks of sensory experience. A big part of that is the difference between clean and dirty. Normally, I'm a two baths a day girl (we will not mention my Lush addiction) but, at Kentwell, that goes completely out of the window.

To give some idea of how grubby I was, let me briefly describe what I've been up to. I arrived on the manor on saturday morning, dressed in smock, petticoat and kirtle, and promptly lit two fires. Not small, tidy fires, but great big ones, one of which is inside an oven. This means kneeling in ashes and - to light the oven - sticking my left arm and shoulder deep into an ash-lined brick tunnel. This is not a way to stay tidy.

Over the past three days I've chopped I don't know how many vegetables, cleaned dozens of pots, shredded liver and gutted a pheasant. As a consequence, I left the manor smeared in a liberal mixture of sweat, ash, pig fat and pheasant guts. I'm also covered with what I'm pretty sure are flea bites. Nice.

Remember that smock I put on saturday morning? I've worked and slept in it since then, and only peeled it off last thing yesterday evening after I'd arrived home.

So it's no suprise that hot soapy water feels good.

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