The Waltons and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
It has a name: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The majority of people have squashed this into a pocket-sized abbreviation, OCD. It doesn’t fit into a pocket, at least not neatly and certainly not satisfyingly. It may be part of the condition itself, but I shudder with a cold spine when faced with the abbreviation – or any other abbreviations for that matter. It is built around intruding thoughts that having broken into you then bring anxiety. It can be like a dog barking suddenly on an otherwise perfect summer evening. Sometimes it can be like a stranger pressing your doorbell deep in the moonless heart of sleep. The anxiety can be reduced, or at least sent to stand in a corner, through repetitive behaviour or patterns of routine. In my case I check things and spent a lot of my time visualising sdrow sdrawkcab. I also ganamar noiselessly in my head often. Sometimes I like to count things. 11 lines. 161 words.
I have a theory that you can make your home safer by allowing whichever insects choose to settle there to remain so without stress. As a result I have regular visits from woodlice, beetles, occasional summer ants and numerous spiders. Something ancient inside of me tells me that your home is safe from fire when you allow spiders to live in peace indoors. I often count the legs of the spiders. You’d be surprised how many don’t have eight legs anymore. I think that inaccessible plugholes might have taken a few spider legs. Perhaps children have pulled a leg off here and there. Perhaps this is evidence of spiders battling one another over romantic love.
At night I have a checking routine before I can sleep. It goes something like this:
I do not close the curtains in my front room. This no longer bothers me as I like to see the stars. There is a large, old spider at the top of the curtains that tenses each time I move toward the curtains. “Goodnight curtain spider.”
Before I can leave the room three plus have to be checked. I unplug them one by one and drape each cord over the back of the settee. They lay there like stranded sea creatures. “Goodnight three plugs.”
From the doorway I can check the plugs again. And sometimes again. I switch out the light and enjoy the rush of quiet dark for a moment before my eyes adjust. Moonlight mangled with dirty brown street lighting drips over the leaves of plants on my windowsill. “Goodnight plants.”
The kitchen is quicker because I have usually unplugged everything after I have used it. A glance around the kitchen is usually enough. I grind coffee beans in the evening because I get up at 6:17am. If you lived above me, or next to me, would you want a coffee grinder making its factory noises at this time of morning? I don’t always see the kitchen beetle, not every night, but I make an effort. “Goodnight kitchen beetle.”
In the bathroom I clean my teeth. If it’s been a good day I will floss. The bathroom is popular with guests. Recently a new spider has settled into a hammock of webbing strung around the bath taps. It has been hibernating upside down for a good few weeks now. I shower very carefully nowadays as webs are not waterproof. The toilet cistern leaks occasional water. I count the gap in between the drips whilst sat on the toilet sometimes. I wedged a bucket under the cistern a while ago now and it waits patiently open-mouthed. Woodlice live behind the bucket. There are no plugs in the bathroom but I do check the switch for the shower in the airing cupboard. It is always off when I check. Even the third time. And the fifth.
And so to the bedroom. There are a few spiders in the bedroom, on the windowsill and on the walls and ceiling. I have no idea whether when Earl Hamner Jr. created the Walton Family he was aware of the fact that their now famous round of “Goodnight” at the close of each episode would one day prove useful to those of us with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
At night in the bedroom there are plugs that have to remain in use:
The plug for the bedside lamp waits like a lone gunman.
The plug for the small stereo is like a poisoned dart.
“Goodnight bedroom spiders.”
“Goodnight the end of this day.”
It is true that loneliness makes chatterboxes of us all.