Saturday, April 6

Spring on Regent Street

TUESDAY MORNING SUN peering a little over the horizon in a subtler manner than previous, since the clocks were fingered back an hour by a springtime finger two days ago on Easter Sunday. The dawns that had been creeping brighter for three months suddenly took two steps back and left me one attractive walk to the station for my troubles. However, I was troubled and had had enough of being troubled, though I now had a reason for being troubled. For my own amusement I walked along the cracks in the pavement and spoke aloud to the neighbourhood cats as I passed them and they eyed me very suspiciously.
I got to work and made myself a pot of fresh strong coffee, poured it into a big mug and took a seat with the chairman and a new member of staff – an Indian with the same name as my brother, dressed very smartly, collar & cuffs. Sickness and nausea overcame me; I promptly excused myself, rolled a couple of cigarettes and ran into the street. London after a bank holiday. I went to a coffeeshop and bought another coffee. Another coffee might make me feel less sick. Then I ran underground. I stood up on the Tube, looking at what people were reading and the games they were playing and trying to catch all the day’s news from the discarded secondhand newspapers. I drank my coffee and rubbed sweat onto the front of my coat.
Regent Street was going; in the immaculate conception of spring it was aglow with all kinds of colours, grotesquely born of advertising but selflessly grinning themselves down on all of us, who walked, made our way here and there; tourist families turning maps upside down and up; school groups scaring pedestrians on to the other side of the street; chutes of businessmen – of which I may have been – pressing on, full of direction, and quickly. I paused by the wayside to take a photograph, her majesty beaming over the top of a nearby building. I went to an office and used their toilet, still feeling feeble with nausea, and then I told them that I must conduct a survey, so they let me. I walked around their office where there was a lack of employees – ‘Some people have taken this week off,’ a man told me – ‘It’s half-term, too!’ I asked him – ‘So how busy does it usually get?’ ‘Usually it’s all full… except for that desk there… and that one there… and that one at the back, on the right.’ ‘Okay, I see,’ I said, then I left him to his work. A girl uncrossed and crossed her legs underneath her desk for me; so kind the gesture I almost gave her a fiver.
When I was sure that the survey had been a success I snuck out and was back on the street, rolling a cigarette with Andy Warhol stood in front of me, looking on, his vanilla ice-cream gaze.
That was as warm as the week got.
‘How’s that girl?’
‘Which girl?’
‘The one who gave you the lovebite.’
‘Oh, that wasn’t a girl. That was a stranger. I was attacked. Ruthless. The police have been notified.’
Snow fell, causing everyone and their dog to wonder what month it was. What month was it? The wind does not stop and it’s the wind that shows no mercy; the snowflakes, pitiful and limp, fall and land and disappear with no real consequence. Anyone who came in from outside was red and their hair all over the place. Many times, though, I started to perspire from nervousness in the office and would go for a cigarette without wearing a coat, the cold dried me off and I felt quite good, all considered.
Only in my silence did I notice that my troubles were becoming dangerous. So, I turned to drink in the evening and got some things down on my keyboard. Often I was consumed by fits of anger at the silliest trifles; trifles that caused me to punch out until my knuckles bled and blood ran down my fingers. The blood was licked up, no problem, but, in the cold, the wounds took a while to heal. In the mornings I felt like I was unable to continue, like something might snap, and that all I wanted, in the world, was to sleep, so I swore to myself – ‘Tonight I will go to bed early & sober’ yet when the night arrived I opened another bottle of wine and stayed up into the night.
After all of that, today is sunny and, from my desk here, the sun is winking at me through the blinds. I make a mix CD and drink a couple of beers and write; occasionally I bask in the sun and I find the time passes agreeably. I am undisturbed. Everything is pleasant, warmed by the sun and shielded from the wind that still rushes by outside.

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