Thursday, December 17


SOME WOMEN INSPIRE me to try to become a better artist. The true nature of inspiration is accidental, as they do not intend to inspire me, intending only to be as they know how to be, but from that, from their nuanced behaviour, I go away wishing to try to become a better artist. I believe I could name each woman who has inspired me to try to become a better artist (there are a few men, too, but, o, forgive me!) and I doubt they would take up much more room than one hand’s worth of fingers. So grateful I am for each of them, for each of those women who inspired me to try to become a better artist.
‘But why didn’t you write when you were with her?’ She is watching me eat.
‘It was either stay up late and write, or go to bed with her. It was no competition, really.’
My ex did not inspire me to try to become a better artist. In fact, while we were together my writing disappeared almost entirely. It is true that so many of the emotions I felt during that time were magnificent in stature and overwhelming in size, but I did not wish to chronicle them; I was quite content living them. Perhaps at times words may have been a comfort, yet I was not longing for the keys, like I do the nights nowadays, but only for her and her and more of her. Did I wish to perch at my desk and tap, or to get into bed with her, to feel the sheets all cold and her flesh all warm? to feel the perfect way her body fitted into mine? to smell the delicious smell of her hair as she fell asleep? her tiny snores? It really was no competition.
All this is beside the point, because what she did is inspire me to try to become a better person. No-one else in my life has done that. She was not aware of it and neither was I. It happened accidentally. ‘I think I’m a better person these days,’ I told them. Indeed she did try to inspire my writing: buying me books and inscribing them in her handwriting that she wished was Helvetica, and always encouraging me to write – and try to write, I did, but always the call of her sleeping body beneath the mezzanine upon which my desk rested! I knew where I wanted to be. There was her and only her. Everything else could be forgotten. I knew where my world ended and where it begun. When I was with her, I wanted to be a better person, I wanted to try to become a better person. I wanted to be more loving, more considerate, more caring, more understanding, more sympathetic, happier, more joyous, carefree, funnier, more compassionate, more selfless. I wanted to offer myself up to her and try to be a better person; in truth, to have her wanting for nothing more and no-one else. I wanted to be a better person so I could make her happy.
After all this, where was I? She left. She left me. She was my lover. She was my best friend in the entire world. Up to this day I do not know whether she just left, or she left me. Either way, I sit here, writing, alone, unsure of what to write or how to live. In short, I believe that women who inspire you to try to become a better artist are sacred enough, however the woman who inspires you to try to become a better person is the sole definition of love, life and the whole universe.
‘I can’t, mate, I’m skint.’
‘I’ll buy.’
We went to the pub downstairs. It used to be a lousy venue, but it got better through the introduction of new pumps and staff. The festive crowd busied it up, my friend and I, just the two of us, by ourselves. The next day he was flying to Germany for his holiday with the love of his life. It filled me with guilt not to go out with him, so I went. We drank and the beer was good. Slowly the place quietened down. We talked very well; we always do; I find him exceptional company. ‘What was it you called me on your blog?’
‘My “Irish rock”.’
‘Yeah, that’s it!’ he smiled his toothy smile. A famous smile.
‘It’s biblical, man, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. It means “rock”.’
He laughed, but found the occasion of everyone in the office sneakily reading my blog most awful. I did, too. We did not dwell on it. That was long ago.
There were many drinks for the road—‘One more for the road!’ I was very drunk when a strange thing happened. I was recalling my ex, which is a rare occurrence, but I was compelled by something or other, a degree of comfort and of a loose tongue. I came to a painful part in the story, stirring up some history or other, when I started to cry, right there in the bar! The story stopped, I stopped. My jaw shuddered. I looked at the ceiling. My dear friend smiled nervously, then looked away. I regarded my tears with the kind of regard I have been raised to. I wiped them away most surreptitiously. After my face was dry and my composure had returned, I said—‘Anyway…’

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