Stanley Kubrick’s House: An Imaginary Travelogue

“The Manor House, mainly 18th century has 12 Reception Rooms, 18 Bed and Dressing Rooms, 11 Staff Bedrooms, and 10 Bathrooms. Immaculate Timbered Grounds. Walled Garden. Courtyard with Garaging and Flat. Estate Office. Victorian Dairy House with about 19 Acres [77,000 m2]. Two Coach House Cottages with Magnificent Stable Yard with Paddock and Woodland 16 Acres [65,000 m2]. Cheapside and Shafford Farms, 2 Well Equipped Corn and Stock Farms with about 724 Acres [2.9 km2]. 146 Acres [591,000 m2] of Timbered Parkland, 37 Acres [150,000 m2] of Railed Paddock and 104 Acres [421,000 m2] of valuable Commercial Timber”. In addition there were “18 Attractive Houses and Cottages, some with Paddocks. Old Mill and other Buildings for conversion, Stud Buildings, 30 Loose Boxes, Potential Riding School, and fishing in River Ver and Mill Race. Total 1,100 Acres [4.5 km2]”

She is a lovely old woman. She says little. She takes me by the hand to the tree under which he is buried. We stand and say nothing. I lower my eyes. Say a prayer but lose the pattern of the words (forgive us our bread .. trespass our enemies .. ) and so I turn from her, and she releases my hand. I crunch gravel, walking toward the the house. Can horses haunt things, places? Can the stories of a mysterious man? Inside is Private Joker: Inside is horrorshow: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Slim Pickens rides the Bomb bareback and the mushroom cloud billows out of what was formerly the billiards room. Piled in the corner: stacks of VHS tapes .. Roseanne .. Seinfeld .. Johnny Carson .. the Simpsons. Americana. Why am I here, I keep asking myself. Thirty miles north of London, in the incongruous English countryside…

This imaginary travelogue to Stanley Kubrick’s house, where his third wife still lives and one of his daughters is buried, — this need / desire to write it, came as an afterthought, a throwaway line from somewhere, buried inside a half-formed joke. Or not a joke: I associate Kubrick with irretrievable journeys into deep space (for obvious reasons) and so the most mundane thing I could think of as a counterpoint was What does that man’s house look like? It seemed silly that Stanley Kubrick would have a house, maybe even a favorite pillow, a breakfast nook. And so I looked it up online, and now I’m dreaming myself into it from my own house — or attempting to dream this journey into someone else’s space.

Fiction has lost its hold on me, for now. I think of the novel I was working on and have lost, and I feel lucky that its extravagances and fudgery won’t see the light of day. I am not interested in writing lies anymore. Not right now, anyway.

My son lies sleeping in his little bed, the shades drawn on a rainy afternoon in the American South. I sit in a rocking chair, pecking at a keyboard, dreaming up and then quickly abandoning stories about a place where I have never been and, if I’m honest, where I am not likely to ever go. I gather it is a creative place, a good place to dream, to invent, even now. An enormous country manor refashioned for freedom, flights of fancy — irretrievable journeys into deep space.

There are giraffes and monkeys, lions and elephants on the quilt cushioning my son as he naps. I can’t imagine what he is dreaming. I don’t want to. That’s his deep space, and his alone. I only want to make enough room and freedom for him to dream it how he wants it to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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