This is a book to read out of the corner of your eye. That's if read's even the right word. A scrapbook of prose, poetry, paintings, photographs and floor plans, all created by master craftsman Leanne Shapton, sublime medium of the cannily observed and imagined.You could call it a collection of (very) short stories but these stories aren't like the others. More like suggestions, or prompts towards memory: real or imagined. There's black and white photos of people and places: long-lost faces from long-lost times; deserted corridors; empty beds – eeriness innate. There's floor plans – why so horrible? – and Instagram posts, no comments, no captions, only a record of likes. Vintage wrapping paper; old clothes advertised on eBay; an unsettling account of a trip to Alcatraz; stage directions from a 1970s screenplay. Its coated in strangeness, love, loss, and emotion barely simmering. These are ghost stories – haunting and beautiful – but as with phantoms, even better sensed than seen.
I've always loved Rear Window. The colours, the clothes, the sparse but snappy dialogue, Grace Kelly!, the glory of spying on a dozen little scenes and Hitchcock's host of deliciously intriguing characters. The perfectly played thrill. Hitchcock's whole genius in fact.Now this classic also feels achingly familiar. Don't misunderstand – there are elements that don't sit easy. But nevertheless, here we are, housebound and isolated, watching from behind glass what our neighbours get up to while they too are stuck indoors. It's basically a lockdown movie. Seventy years ago little did Hitchcock know we'd all be finding ourselves in L.B. Jeffries position. Now we all know how it feels to have our lives curtailed. How frustrating it is. How easy is to become distracted – obsessed – with what's going on elsewhere. How easy it is to tell ourselves stories – whether or not they turn out to be true.
This month, this year, we plan to:Drink more of it Whether embracing dry January or not, getting into the habit of drinking 2-3 litres of water a day could make all the difference. Leave a tall glass by your bed each night and try to get a chunk of your daily dose out of the way early doors. To keep the hydration going, place a beautiful jug or your favourite glass in every room you use, filled up afresh each day. Submerge ourselves in it A swim might not be on the cards for a while but a hot bath is a cure all. Ramp it up a notch and turn your bath into a sauna by adding 4-6 cups of Epsom salts (make the water as hot as you can reasonably tolerate) and soak for 10-20 mins. Sweat out the day. (Or the whole of last year!) Meditate on it We've always been drawn to the work of Roni Horn, an artist who has been exploring the nature of water for over 30 years. Her drawings, photographs, writing and installations prompt an examination of our own personal relationship with water as well as its universal qualities. We can't look away from, nor take our minds off, images of her 24 floor to ceiling columns filled with water from 24 of the major glaciers in Iceland.