Monday, September 19

The Green Man, Red Panda

It is not yet a month since that hot day when we visited the zoo. I could have sworn it was longer ago. Everyone baked in the sun on that day and I was quite enthusiastic to see the red panda; I told them—‘Yeah, we can go, but I must see the red panda before we do.’ Emphasis on the must. I did not feel so ridiculous when J—e said—‘They’re my favourite, too.’ It seems so long ago since I saw that red panda slouch exhausted over a branch. I smiled childishly and actually took a photograph, aiming my camera lens across the large enclosure.
‘It’s not me, it’s you,’ I tell work! What a trying place! I have travelled much of the country and its various train times, its locations and hotel rooms, its food and accents have left me weary. I get sent – and I am so keen to follow orders! – here and there, places I have not been before; these are chores I cannot dodge, I must attend. Suffering most of all is my routine. I am a sucker for routine. I told the contractor that: he was very kindly giving me a lift to the train station in his wife’s car. ‘I dunno how many more of these tests I can take!’ I told him—‘They’ve fucked up my routine! I need routine!’ He smiled; he is a good man, we get on, he and I. ‘I dunno why,’ he replied—‘I can’t stand routine… I don’t understand how you can go to the same office every day. I need a new location, a new job, a new site.’ ‘Can’t explain it. I like routine. I like knowing where I am, what I’m doing. I can’t explain it. It keeps me sane.’ I think the routine is returning, and with it a portion of my mind.
The routine has brought autumn. Or maybe autumn brought routine, I could not tell you. The darkness creeps in. My flat is no cooler for it, even with the windows open at all hours. Not even the slightest breeze leans over my threshold! I try to put my face out into the nightly air but nothing brings relief. Red wine causes me to sweat and choke; I seldom drink red wine anymore. And yet I drink too much. When I drink I feel good but it does not last until the morning; no, then I am wretched and having to sit and work or to stand and work and I long for five-thirty and then I go drinking again, like a fool.
And, after all this, do you think I dare put a word down! How long has it been since I last wrote? No, don’t you dare say—‘Thirty-one days!’ As I age I find myself wilting before the keyboard when before I flowered. Words and tales that used to come with such ease are now troublesome to put down. I sigh at myself. I am aging terribly. I am no writer, no, not at all. There is no history left in me. If you could trade me for some beans, magical or otherwise, you wouldn’t waste a second patting my back and wishing me well. The good years are over. There is no chance that I could describe this to you, dear reader, this feeling. At times I lie on my sofa, deflated. I do not want the world, it is despicable, but I would like something or other, a desire I am yet to put my finger on. I want my niece! There are many videos of her that I can watch, if only to put myself in a cheerier mood but for a moment. She is on holiday with my brother. She is singing along to a song in a Spanish bar. I watch her and I weep. I weep with a love I am unfamiliar with. I weep and through my teary eyes I smile at her projection. The world is not good enough for her. I weep and all the cheer I had from seeing her sing vanishes and I am heartbroken once more. No, I will not put down a word this evening. I will sit and weep.
But do you know that today, as I crossed the junction outside of Bank, I remarked to myself at my knowledge of traffic lights in the city. I know in which order they flash and their colours. I know when to walk and when to pause and wait. It is important knowledge, it is. All of those gawpers waiting for the green man while I just strut confidently across, in almost no danger at all! If I were to die, be struck by a speeding lorry, no one would know I had such knowledge of the traffic lights. There would be no plaque commemorating my red amber green intellect, no mini-biography in the front of a Penguin Classic. I would be a wisp of sadness, blown away quick and unfortunately.
I hope that winter brings cold; cold enough for me to see my breath within the four walls of this flat.

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