An incisive feature on newspaper-hoarding-loons, courtesy of The Onion. i couldn’t help but think of my father, who is now in his late 70s (still alive despite having had three heart attacks in his 40s, developing ME in his 60s, and siring me and my sister). The last time i visited, in 2007, he was living amidst piles of old newspapers, suitcases, radios (about a dozen), sealed cardboard boxes, and grotesque Catholic kitsch (garish plastic statues of the BVM, pictures of the Pope). Actually, he’s been living so for at least a decade.

i gave Bonehead the grand tour of Casa Elberry in 2002. Bonehead himself lives in a spartan white flat without decorations or possessions, so he found the clutter and Catholicism excitingly horrible. i showed him each room in turn. He commented of the “dining room”, which was almost inaccessible, full of sealed cardboard boxes and about 50 suitcases: “It’s strange, it’s like you’ve only just moved in but you’ve been here for years. It’s madness”

i led him into the “living room” where my father was watching football. You could just about get into the room but again it doubled as a warehouse for sealed cardboard boxes and suitcases, and stacks of newspapers. Bonehead’s admiring comment: “The madness continues!” He rubbed his hands together as he said this and i realised this was, in effect, a visit to a freakshow for him.

Bonehead summed up the whole experience: “You live in Dave Ferrie’s house.”

Here’s Dave Ferrie from JFK:

Ferrie lives in a house full of lab rats (he’s trying to come up with a cure for cancer) and Catholic kitsch. It really looks like a slightly less insane version of my father’s house. i think the only reason my father didn’t have cages of lab rats in every room was he didn’t think of it. Thank God he never saw JFK.

When i exclaimed once about the uninhabitability of this dread (3-bedroom) house, he replied, grimacing in self-pity: “Egh well egh is SMALL HOUSE, egh”. He also once told me “egh well egh egh egh in this country, egh, it is JUST NOT POSSIBLE egh to live on LESS THAN £24,000 a year, egh”.

When i severely culled my possessions last summer, preparatory to moving to Das Reich, i overcome each pang of “oh but i really like that book!” with the mental picture of my father’s house. The loon way of life indeed.