Reasons to look out of windows - a guest post by Deborah Jenkins

I promised you some Deborah Jenkins and here she is, guest posting for me about windows. Enjoy..........  

When you enter a strange room, what’s the first thing you do? Introduce yourself? Admire pictures?  Plump for the comfy chair? Perhaps you’re a circulator or you do a quick reccy of the room checking for exits and extinguisher positions in case of fire. Perhaps you sniff the air, appreciatively or otherwise, for signs of flowers or body odour. Perhaps you sidle. I like sidlers. I used to be one years ago. The art is to flatten yourself wafer thin against a wall and move, crab-like, towards the nibbles. If you are quick – small, jerky movements work best – no one will notice you, because they’ll be too busy admiring pictures, testing the sofa etc. And by the time they’ve finished, you’ll be sitting on a dining chair shovelling cheese straws for all you’re worth and they’ll mistake the smell for body odour and leave you alone…

Well, these days I don’t do any of that.  I go to the window. Because, infinitely more reassuring than chairs or people or even cheese straws, is sunshine or rain or a scrap of sky. There might be trees or a garden or a thread of vapour from a soaring plane. There might be cows, or a dog, or a woman on a bike or something to look at or admire. And best of all, there’s that pleasing reminder that while you’re having a drink/attending a talk/visiting a friend, the world outside is carrying on quietly without you and when you’ve finished, you just step outside and you’re part of it again…

When you think about it, windows are rather clever. You can be warm and dry and sofa-bound while being simultaneously aware of the weather or if there’s a cat in a tree. You can make animal-clouds. You can curl up in a square of sunshine. You can dream. You can look at the same view imagining you’re someone else – Anne Boleyn, Rod Stewart, the queen. I have pressed my nose against ancient glass and watched it steam and wondered who else’s breath has done this. I have sat in a castle on a wedge of stone as thick as a brick and looked through a grille at the sea below. Last night I gazed from the roof of my brother’s house to a sprinkle of lights on a hill. And I thought of the people under those lights and I felt glad, you know, that we were in this thing together under the same stretch of sky with the same slice of moon rocking up there in the darkness with no more than two panes of glass between us. Windows. Great, aren’t they?

There’s a couple of vibrantly clad African women who walk, or rather sway, down my road quite often. They walk slowly, shouting on phones or singing, or laughing to each other very loudly. Whenever I see them, usually from my bedroom window, it makes me smile. They seem to enjoy life so much although I get the impression they are not well-off. They are a splash of colour through glass.

There’s that phrase, isn’t there, When God closes a door, He opens a window. As if the opening and closing of doors is the serious business of life and windows are back-up. When we were little and visiting my grand-parents’ house, they were quite often at work and for some reason, instead of leaving a key they used to leave the toilet window open. We never used to worry about this much because we all knew the routine. My Dad would lift my brother onto his shoulders. Then my brother would squash himself into a small rectangle, and squeeze himself – toilet window shaped – through the opening, shimmy down the loo and run to open the door. To my knowIedge, my grand-parents were never burgled, which explains why I’ve never seen any photos of rectangular bodied thieves in the Didcot Gazette. I had forgotten all this until my brother reminded me recently. Actually it explains a lot about my brother.

So, inventor of windows (the Romans? Norsemen? (Certainly not Bill Gates but then I should have expected that, googling who invented windows?), we salute you! You have given us a way of keeping an eye on things. You draw some of us to you like magnets, so we don’t feel trapped. You give us glimpses of both past and future. And you remind us that however impassable life may seem, somewhere there’s a window waiting, even a toilet one, to take us safely to our destination.
What about the windows in your life?

And here's a link to one of my favourite posts of Deborah's, about stairs, among other things. She does this sort of thing very well. Stairs


  1. When I enter a room at a party, I try to hide in a corner and ignore everyone so they'll ignore me. Now I have a new option: Looks out a window. See what's going on in that part of the world. Great post, Deborah, and very amusing.


  2. A fascinating essay on windows. Very enjoyable.

  3. Windows are the fuel for many of my daydreams...

  4. I'll bear this in mind when I go to a friend's child's birthday party this afternoon . Though I might just hand the child's present over , drink a coffee , smile , admire the cake and slope off . Which is probably all that's required , really ...

  5. I love it when someone shows us a whole new way of looking at (or in this case through!) something really ordinary and mundane. Suddenly, there's a wonder and a magic in daily life. Many thanks.

  6. I don't 'do' gatherings much, I try to avoid such things, but if I have to...I usually head for the nearest bookshelf and check for flowers on the way, since I am allergic to so many of them. If there is no bookshelf I'll be near a window or door.


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