Sunday, April 6

Probably a Disaster

FOR A WHILE, ROCKING, I considered remaining on the train; I thought that I would spend the evening riding all over the city, staring out of the windows from beneath the cold lamps of the carriage. It was when I was stood next to the station, quite unaware, that my friend bumped into me and we set off. The city still hangs underneath an overwhelming smog. My friend, Andy, has a love for the city that I share. He was born in the same town as my youngest brother, where I grew up; avenues and army housing, roman roads, secondary school and sixth form and all those friends still there. He pushed his bike between us. I was happy to have met him. We walked down this road and that, crossed a bridge. A young waitress came out and apologised profusely in a foreign accent—‘The pub is shut today because of a wedding.’ She stared right at me. Her eyebrows were very thick and dark, and, as she spoke, her hands played with themselves. She offered us complimentary glasses of champagne for our next visit and pointed us to a nearby pub where we could get something to drink. My sneezing had made me very thirsty. We moved on through parts of the city that I had not seen before, where, in the distance, were other cities, tall, grey, misty erection: overhanging brutes of maritime commerce; the ghosts of old markets; wire fences locked up; a maze of platforms and bridges.
The week had worn me out, though I could not think why. Writing has abandoned me and nothing seems worth noting down. A world that came to me as complete sentences and paragraphs has vanished, leaving me alone in the evening. When I am in such a way, I cannot lift a finger. The washing piles up, the flat becomes messier, plants die, and I read a wretched book that I have not the courage to throw away. I open the window for a cool breeze but only the smog enters, so I shut it immediately. Over and over. I cannot bear it. I shake my fist in the air and shout expletives but no-one is listening. I get into bed and take the ceiling; I hear the railroad men beginning their nightshift; torches flicking on their wrist pierce the blackness of my room, so I watch them painting all over my walls. Their colour is a little distant, removed; they wobble from the dinner they were served by their wives before they left, no children at the table.
As Andy and I talked, I calmed down. I had a cloudy pint in my hand. The pint was cloudy as the sky. Wind ripped.
On Wednesday I went out with work. I had been in good spirits—as one will at certain times for very strange reasons—yet as soon as I left I was once more cast into darkness. Unfortunately there was no-one there for me. It is too much, this unreasonable sadness.
She lay in the bath.
I sat next to the bath in a most uncomfortable position.
She was reciting the plot to an eighties movie that I had not seen. Grout was getting clogged with scale. A tap dripped with gaps, and her painted toes emerged to turn the hot on. What was not distorted by the water was drying and plucking up her colourless hairs to stand. That was how that moment went an hour by.
We moved into the restaurant and ordered something to eat. Subjects were breezed over, others were talked to death. I have known him now—if time is disinclined to lie—no less than seven years. He was, as we stepped down to our first pub, preferring to poke fun at me before offering, at my poverty, to buy me a drink. I was sucking my thumb because the nail had been bitten too close to the quick and I did not remember having done so. I consider him one of my dearest friends and one whom I trust a great deal. Years ago, when my blog was—unbeknownst to me—doing the rounds in my office, laughed at and ridiculed, he refused to read it, respecting my unvoiced privacy; understanding without asking that I would not have liked such a thing. When the bill arrived, he paid, despite my protests.
On the way home I remembered that I was a little tipsy from it all and tried to cross the road when I shouldn’t have; a car upon me, its white bonnet shining, rushing. I was in love with its shining. A group of men, always there never the same, stood outside of the train depot, smoking; a couple of men sat on a garden wall outside the offy, drinking beer; a group of three young men and one young woman headed for the tube station, into the city. I returned home. I lied down and tried to sleep, but could not. Nothing but time.

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