Francis Bacon was famous for his filthy studios. “I work much better in chaos,” he explained. And Pablo Picasso forbade his studio to be cleaned, so that “I would know at once if somebody had been meddling with my things”.
So I am not a slob, I am an artist. But this doesn't quite hold up because, like most untidy people, I prefer things tidy. It's just that I am always being distracted, then forgetting that I was meant to be clearing up. This is what life is like with an untidy mind; one that is focused inwards on its own thoughts rather than outwards to meet the demands of the exterior world. Tidiness is a priority - just a very low one; behind, say, looking out of the window blankly.
The accommodation that I have reached with my wife is this: if clutter is drawn to my attention, I will do something about it. The trouble is, I've never quite worked out what that “something” is. “Put it away,” she says. Where is this “away”? Where do you put a jumper that you have worn twice? You can't put it back in the clean-jumper drawer, can you? The back of a chair seems as good a place as any. What do you do with continual-use items? You leave them where you use them continually.
- The Times, 29 January 2009