Promenade 1: Puzzle Corner (The 'Flip-Book' series, No.6)

I saunter from the bedroom and through the apartment.

(By the way, apologies for the next paragraph, which reads like estate agents' particulars: let me assure you now that I've never been, slept with, or bought drinks for, an estate agent in my life.  However, as a breed they are quite a lot like radioactive fallout: is there any way we can adequately protect ourselves from the taint?)

The floorplan reminds me of a wonky hourglass: in one bulb there's the spare room, main bedroom, and dining-room with a large balcony off; in the other bulb there's the galley kitchen, lounge with small balcony off, main entrance, and the Small Tiled Room of Ablutions.  The pinch of the hourglass passes one of the two entrances to the kitchen, and leads from the dining-room to the lounge.

I cross the dining-room, sparing a leftward glance for the main balcony, and directly in my eye-line are the twin towers of Högalidskyrkan, over on Södermalm; the rest of the central Stockholm skyline is just an impression in the corner of my eye as I walk.  The sky is almost cloudless; it's going to be another sunny scorcher of a day.

How did I arrive at this moment?

I'm living in a penthouse apartment.  Large, well-appointed, with picture-window views of a city centre that seems to be more lake than land: a penthouse apartment for heaven's sake!  How, in the name of all that's unlikely, did I achieve this?

Remember those word-ladder puzzles that used to feature in children's comics?  They might go something like this: "See if you can get from LOSER to CHAMP in just twelve steps, changing only one letter at a time, and making a proper word in each case."  You might solve the puzzle and think no more about it, but before you tackled it, there was no obvious route between the two given words.

So it is with me, in this apartment, on Day 13991: Wednesday 13th August 1997.

What was the chain of events that led me --- a seemingly-lifelong denizen of the box-room and "Bedroom Three", of lodgings and shared houses --- to a penthouse in the capital city of Sweden?  Sometimes it's hard to recall how this LOSER ever became CHAMP.  What were the intermediate steps, and if any of those steps had been different, would I still have ended up here?

Maybe you've often speculated in similar vein, whenever you have a few quiet hours for reflection.

Anyway, it's a question I ponder as I pass the kitchen, glance over the lounge, and pivot on my right heel to step onto holy ground: the Small Tiled Room of Ablutions.

Make yourself comfortable, I'll be a while.... 


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