26 October 2011

Observation

Slowly I am unsubscribing from every mailing list I have ever signed up to.

Two jumpers and a blanket and I’m still cold.

Eight open documents. Eleven tabs.

Fret not lovely, the leaves are finally turning orange. (Yesterday’s favourite colour.) Time is passing as promised. I worried about you so much when you refused to jump with me into a pile of leaves, or even to kick them about really. Some squirrel-like mischievousness has returned to your eyebrows.

L gave the finger to the stupid indoor joggers, she likes to see her breath.

I am thinking about Anne Carson again, and Sappho, about fragments and distant friends, about all things turning inside out.

Yesterday I was still and good.

23 October 2011

from Kandinsky's Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911)

The unbounded warmth of red has not the irresponsible appeal of yellow, but it rings inwardly with a determined and powerful intensity. It glows in itself, maturely, and does not distribute its vigour aimlessly.
p40


We stand and gaze fascinated, till all of a sudden the explanation bursts suddenly upon us. It is the conviction that nothing mysterious can ever happen in our everyday life that has destroyed the joy of abstract thought.
p50


Conventional beauty must go by the board and the literary element of "story-telling" or "anecdote" must be abandoned as useless. Both arts [literature and painting] must learn from music that every harmony and every discord which springs from the inner spirit is beautiful, but that it is essential that they should spring from the inner spirit and that alone.
p51


Kandinsky, Colourful Ensemble, 1938

Bus stop

An old lady smokes and nods at the other old ladies at the bus stop. She squints in the sun, her forehead is smooth but her cheeks are craggy.

I misread my bus number, get up, lose my seat.

A fat Spanish woman wears a pink t-shirt with a faded picture of a silver butterfly stretching across her chest. It says Ultimate Catch.

A different old woman with puckered lips smokes and licks her top lip. She’s holding a can of K and making jokes with her friend.

Every kid I’ve overheard says they’re going to be a vampire for Halloween.

I am hollow and hungover, things are flooding in. I am late and I haven’t brushed my teeth.

All the old ladies wear purple.

A pair of teenage girls drink pink and blue slushies and argue over whether they should go to Brixton or Crystal Palace. One of them keeps telling the other one she has to buy some cocoa butter lip balm today. I’ve seen two boys wearing the same overpriced backpack from American Apparel. The girls stop then start arguing again.

I count yuppies.

My friend’s friend is moving to Singapore. She needs someone to take her two cats. She doesn’t want them to live in a skyscraper and she doesn’t want them to be separated. I wish I could take them.

My bus doesn’t come for another twenty minutes. At least I get my favourite seat. There are too many misplaced apostrophes on the way home.

An old man, also in purple, gets on. He has small cuddly toys clipped to his shopping trolley. There’s a puppy, a monkey, a gollywog and Hello Kitty. Everybody loves Hello Kitty.

20 October 2011

Lanzarote

Half way thorough we realise we are suffering caffeine withdrawal. We drink three caff sized cups in a row. This still only amounts to one and a half normal sized mugs. My preferences for honey in tea are unpredictable. Though always yes in the morning.

A complicated politics, but it keeps the conversation going. I feel like a traitor sometimes, not having one preference above all others.

We switch to rum and coke.

At the same time we are struck to go into the white silence of notebooks, heads down, breath heavy, black marks straining towards shape. To dip out of the world and into life.

I am re-reading a book I have long stood by as a favourite, while only remembering glimpses of why. M reads it for the first time and I am so jealous.

Wanting to disappear, wanting to appear, stuck always in between. It is overcast and we are secretly relieved.

On Tuesday we will be cooked for. Meat will be barbecued on the living heat of the earth’s core. The leaflets say it is a lunar landscape. To me it is a black desert.

The criss-cross pattern of a wicker chair has imprinted itself onto the back of the skinny thigh of the girl walking in front of me. I watch it change slightly back and forth as she walks.

The black cat in front of the white wall arches its back as I approach it. I look into the green eyes in its small, almond-shaped skull and think about holding its head in my palm.

Black sand eroded into temporary shapes by the sea that will rush into and fill it like breath in lungs. Flooding the tiny bay and stretching its capacity, forcing it to change.

Do you suppose the cats eats lizards? I am too fond of both to imagine it happening. T says maybe some do but perhaps others just catch them and play with them then go in for their dinner. We wince.

I finish my book and reread the last ten pages obsessively for an hour or so. Each time something happens. I will never have you pieced together entirely. I put it in a specific list in my mind. I must write to M.

We come home, we hear the Coronation Street theme tune from next door. We take pictures of the moon and zoom in to marvel. After beer, after tea, after another card game, we go in for our dinner.

We hear Professional Widow playing from a beach side cafe where bocadillos are 2.50, the same price we paid for the ice creams we ate by the sea the day before.

Climbing over red rocks the next day, across hills like desert mountains in flip flops and swimsuits, doubt returns, filling the gaps like water. We climb down tight crevices, jumps that seem steep to me. I say I’m in flip flops, this is extreme walking for someone in flip flops. Let me take your bag he says. I insist on carrying it myself, proud. Tiny stones of black volcanic residue and grey slate shift fast under our feet. We press about for steady ones. Lean into the cliff, for – like – balance. Down into a narrow gap he goes, looks up and says mind the shit. His face squirms as he smells baby shit. Someone has left numerous soiled nappies right here in this purple crack of cliff. Who would do that? What kind of people would ever think this was ok? I rant and rave about the State of Things until I feel better.

I stare at an obese half-naked woman from behind dark glasses. I have to look hard to find her crotch, hidden as it is under rolls the size of bread loaves. There is something impressive in it. The man beside her has a big round barrel belly covered in tattoos I cannot make out. They stretch over his skin like patterns distorting on an expanding balloon. Every day I see him by the pool reading The Farmers’ Guardian and drinking small plastic cups of cold free beer.

The workmen sweat through their overalls, shirts becoming fluid and see through. Young girls in empty bikinis read magazines and dangle their feet over chair arms. A tanned old man rakes away dead red flowers. I love the sound of the rake against the black gravel.

The other fat woman taps a rhythm onto her thigh with one hand and adjusts her cap with the other. She has a tattoo of a diamond on the top part of her left arm. She is restless, she picks up a book and puts it back down. She smokes a cigarette.

Later I tell him I am sick of trying to be well-adjusted. I plan on a full and true maladjustment very soon. He tells me to take it easy.

13 October 2011

Yesterday

Sentences break apart, into adjunct clauses I cannot follow. Rules of grammar so ingrained they apply themselves without context. The bus changes its destination, people shuffle and curse. Local councils fund dim decorative lights, attempts at cheering the municipality. The next step is knocking it down. I heard there was an empty high rise they'd reinforced the walls of and filled with water, now you can scuba dive there and look out of the windows at the dry city and the pigeon shit on the window sills. Windmill Row. Butterfly Walk. Hordes of eager cyclists. Words break into syllables, then letters, then just the alphabet out of order, wanting to line up again. There is too much noise to read. Post office, town hall, cinema. My home town is a story book. I remember about abandoning ideas of success. A page, a paragraph, a sentence, a word, a letter. To you, to say: last night I swore I had tinnitus in my left ear. A distant high pitched constancy. I opened my mouth and talked to myself until I fell asleep.

11 October 2011

from Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays (1970)


By the end of the week she was thinking constantly about where her body stopped and the air began, about the exact point in space and time that was the difference between Maria and other. She had the sense that if she could get that in her mind and hold it for even one micro-second she would have what she had come to get. As if she had a fever, her skin burned and crackled with a pinpoint sensitivity. She could feel smoke against her skin. She could feel voice waves. She was beginning to feel color, light intensities, and she imagined she could be put blindfolded in front of the signs at the Thunderbird and the Flamingo and know which was which. "Maria," she felt someone whisper one night, but when she turned there was nobody.
p170-1

Devon

Behind the clouds the perfect circle of sun is visible. This is the sort of mood I am in: optimistic. The surface of the pool is covered in hairs and dusty skin, brown leaves (remember, it is Autumn) and coral coloured geranium petals. I see H in them, all geraniums are for her, our little Joan of Arc. We eke out the last rays of heat, shivering in deck chairs. We keep our water in the (spreading) shade to pretend things must be kept cool.

9 October 2011

from Thomas Bernhard's Yes (1991)

...and at least make an attempt to fix my recollection of her, even though this can only be done in a fragmentary and incomplete way and, like anything written, cannot be done in a complete or perfect manner, now that so many attempts in that direction, made by me lately, have time and again failed. But anything to be written has to be, time and again, begun from the start, and time and again attempted anew, until one day it succeeds at least approximately, if never quite satisfactorily. No matter how unpromising it is and no matter how terrible and hopeless, if we have a subject which time and again, and yet time and again, grips us with the utmost persistence and no longer leaves us alone, it should time and again be attempted. In the knowledge that nothing at all is certain and that nothing at all is perfect, we should, even with the greatest uncertainty and with the greatest doubts, begin and continue whatever we have determined to do.
p35