Monday, December 15


I WAS TYING MY shoelaces when I saw that the weather-lady, who I did not recognise, was wearing a wide, pale blue belt to emphasise her waist, so I thought I should sit up and pay attention—‘So enjoy the pleasant morning while it lasts because this afternoon the cloud and the rain are returning and they will be with us until Friday.’ The wide blue belt kept brushing against the white dot on the map that indicated the location of Windsor. When I stepped out I heeded her words and looked to the sky. By some turn of events unrelated to the morning’s weather forecast, I knew exactly when the sun was going to rise – to the minute – and so as I looked up I knew that it would not be any white rim I saw, but only the illumination of a companion not yet arrived. Maybe, at that moment, the sun was over Paris, with all the romantic connotations you can derive from such a suggestion. The sky was deep blue, a gradient, and strips of cloud hung still, their bodies all burned and yellow. They were beautiful enough – remind me to thank the weather-lady – and I craned my neck for a few yards before I thought that there would be other morning skies as beautiful and went along my way.
Her! She is obsessed with the city. She cannot bear to be away from it. She is from my hometown and wears a backpack constantly, like some demented German tourist. Up and down the train she would walk looking for someone to talk to and when she found them all the wrinkles on her face would erupt and her eyes became strange to behold and her well-aligned teeth all came out to play. She never made any sense to me back then and she doesn’t now, even when I see her on my walk to work, from a different part of the city – and look! even now she hangs upon someone’s sleeve, being led and nattering without breath. I lowered my head, peeking out the corner of my eyes at her and passed without being spotted, for if she had seen me she would most certainly have pulled me aside into some doorway and taken up my morning. I was glad to have made it by safely, but I was always sure to be careful.
A few more turns in the night and I ended up in some restaurant. The place smelled quite strongly of money and the lights made everything gold. The poorly made advertisements on a noticeboard out front belied the glamour within. The small menu made little sense to me; a new junior at work translated it for me, smugly recalling where in the world he had sampled entrecĂ´te or gravlax. And amongst the gravel of my surroundings, coarse as I found them, somewhat castaway in the occasion, I sought to get drunk and to become drunk and to not stop until I was sick. It was that occasion or it was another occasion or I don’t know what, but so miserable and so dead was I that I was tempted by the fecklessness of drink, flinging myself in wholeheartedly and with scant regard for anything else. I did not require a crowd or even a partner but just the bountiful confines of a bar and the desire to be as far away from everything as I could be. It does not happen often, I told myself – so I got another beer and because it was free I didn’t savour it but swallowed it down like some foul medicine. Over and over. It was simple and cheap. All of the world, ghastly as I find it, vanished and it was just me being distracted.
Even now when I write about it I know that it is uninteresting but I shall go on: It was because I was so drunk that I danced and the movements that I made upset my steadiness and suddenly I was aware of how drunk I was. So I made it out into the cold, dark streets where all the strangers roamed. The bright lights of a fast food restaurant enticed me in but I could not bear to be around the other punters, so I took my revolting lot into the street, found a dank corner, sat down and ate it there, where I could enjoy it, free from anyone else. Now I was very limp and forgetful with the drink and I got the tube home, unable to walk without falling all over the place but quite all right with it, for I had succeeded in my efforts.
And now that I have written all of that I can see, because it is written, that to write it was more pointless and more fruitless than the event. But I wrote it, so I cannot go back. Besides it is late and my thoughts are wilting, my fingers are growing feeble and I will jot down anything I can claw out of the mess of my shattered mind.

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