Monday, 16 July 2018

Round 29.


I’m trying to get better at this, so each day I sit at this desk and write.

The desk was a gift from Pete; it’s too small but I like it’s simplicity. It has a top; legs to hold it up and three drawers that overflow with ideas.

And stuff.

Pete didn’t have a lot of ‘stuff’ in his house; maybe that’s why this desk was a gift.

He didn’t need it anymore.

He doesn’t need much in fact; he has passed on.

He left three sons and a daughter to carry on his memory and whilst they do he is alive. We only die when the last person who remembers us, forgets.

That’s not going to be the case for a long time.

Pete’s brother is 83 now, I guess that qualifies him as an older man. A letter from him arrived at the house toady, full of news and hopes for celebrations later in the year; a reply to his letter sits on the desk alongside me.

I will add some thoughts.

The letter was written by his niece who at the moment is elsewhere in this house working with her son on a t-shirt that will one day astound the world, though as I write that I hear the sound of a distant food mixer in action, so maybe she is in the kitchen making soup. It’s not a soup kind of day, but it’s a soup kind of time of year.

Her son hasn’t been up a long time, he lives by night, sleeps most of the day.

Yesterday evening, together, we sat and watched a film called Live by Night. It’s a Ben Affleck work, in all manners of the word. He wrote the screenplay, directed the thing, starred and was one of the producers.

Chaplin used to work like that.

There’s a photo of Chaplin in my daughter’s kitchen, some 90 kilometers from here.

There’s a statue of Chaplin in my bathroom, though ‘statue’ is probably an in-exact word, one that misleads.

Formerly it was a container of talcum powder, now it is empty. Perhaps it is an example of ambitious image marketing, perhaps it’s an example of image exploitation, I can’t imagine the creator of The Kid, amongst others, sanctioned his image on powder you rub on your bum.

I saw his daughter in a film recently - A Monster Calls.

Unfortunately the film was difficult to watch, the subject matter was deeply depressing, and she had a very small part.

I didn’t recognise her; the last time I had seen her was on stage a few, perhaps, many years ago in London.

My memory sometimes is very precise, sometimes a vague cloud.

Writing things down helps me.

Orders things.

It’s something I do.

It’s something I need.

I’m trying to get better at it, so each day I sit at this desk and write.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Round 28.


Joseph takes off his glasses and places them in the empty tea cup which sits on the table at the side of the bed.

He closes his eyes.

In the darkness he watches the memories that always seem to be there, if he wants to acknowledge their presence.

Tonight he does.

Mabel, on the beach pointing at the seagull that is trying to pull a piece of rope from the sand; his grandmother holding his hand as they walk over the railway bridge; his father’s pipe the day he picked it up and inhaled, his mother’s hand on his fevered brow.

Always hands, there are always hands in his memories.

He opens his eyes and the darkness floods away.

By the light of the bedside table he considers his own hands.

So old now.

His little finger, deformed and painful from arthritis. He squeezes it against his palm trying to coax live and youth back into the joint.

His nails - still dirty from trying to change the tyre on his car that morning.

The cut on his knuckle - where he failed.

He thinks about his own hands and how they have sustained him all these years; writing at school for the exams, catching the ball for the cricket team, praying each Sunday at Church.

Holding his first pint.

Mabel’s hand when he asked her in marriage.

Mabel’s hand was so soft.



Is that a contradiction?

Mabel was a contradiction; she believed in unity but always preferred to be alone.

Especially at the end.

So long ago now; it seems.

Joseph reaches for his glasses, takes them from the teacup and balances them on his nose.

He peers into the teacup; it is empty.

From the bedside table he takes a piece of folded paper and holds it to his nose.

He can still smell her scent.

Night Fall in Bethlehem.

He only ever found it once, in a small shop on the quayside in Lisbon where their cruise ship stopped.

But Mabel had made it last; her hands were economic as well as soft and delicate.

Joseph unfolds the paper and reads again, though he knows the words by heart.

His mouth opens and closes as he voicelessly repeats them.

Then he cries.

Joseph takes off his glasses and places them in the empty tea cup which sits on the table at the side of the bed.

He closes his eyes.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Round 27.


Brian is lying in his bed; it is Tuesday morning, he doesn’t have to work and it’s raining. The bed is warm and cosy and he is thinking about the way the heat under the covers holds him like a cocoon.

Alice is sitting by an open window looking at the dessert; she has to work later but now she is sipping from a cup of ginseng tea. She is thinking about the dryness of the desert air and how much she misses the rain.

Her phone is on her lap and she has just sent an e-mail.

The e-mail appears in Brian’s inbox almost at the same moment, but he doesn’t notice it at first; he is reading the day’s newspaper on his laptop.

He too is drinking tea, black Indian tea with milk, no sugar.

Lent is approaching and he will give something up for the period; maybe alcohol, maybe chocolate, though he has cut down on both since being ill at the end of January.

Alice has forgotten all about Lent, no one speaks about it in the desert and, like rain, it is not part of the day-to-day.

Anyway, she has given up so much in the last year there is little that remains to be given.

Maybe her phone; she uses it too much, but her friends are far away and sometimes the desert is lonely.

She could give up the desert, but the space and warmth hold her, as much as the warmth of his bed holds Brian.

Brian is lying in his bed; it is Tuesday morning.


Monday, 25 June 2018

Round 26.


It is Sunday evening in the city.

David, George, Elizabeth and Marlène are walking in the street looking for a restaurant.

David doesn’t want to walk too far because he sometimes suffers from an allergy after he has eaten and already he has parked on the top of the multi story car park where the lifts are not working and the only way back to the car is up a lot of stairs.

He parked on the top because of the view across the city and the rooftops and chimneys; it reminds him of Mary Poppins.

Tonight the wind is strong and the top of the car park is exposed, there is a danger that the cars will blow away.

Only a danger.

It is George’s birthday, he thinks he is old but in reality he is a young man; all of his future lies before him and in the palm of his hand; he cups his fingers to protect it from the wind.

George suggests the Pizza Parlour, though he wants to eat a steak; the Pizza Parlour serves steak so they go inside.

Marlène hopes no one recognises her; she handed the manager her CV last month when she was looking for a job. She is still looking for a job but the Pizza Parlour is not interested.

Lizzie is the waitress working tonight, she is younger than George and disappointed when Marlène refuses the offers of drinks and asks for a jug of tap water instead.

Elizabeth is happy; she likes water, but she will also say yes when David suggests a bottle of white wine.

Lizzie is happier too, there is a bigger chance of a tip.

Lizzie is working here only temporarily, she is saving up for a trip to Bali in June and the tips could help.

She is going to Bali in June to see her best friend Miche, who is living there.

Miche is running a Yoga retreat in June and has invited everyone; Lizzie doesn’t do yoga but she wants to see Miche, it has been too long.

Benny has never been to Bali; but he too is sitting in the Pizza Parlour.

Like George he ordered the steak though he now regrets the choice as the steak is served with a Roquefort cheese sauce.

Benny hates cheese.

Benny hates Roquefort more than any other cheese.

When he was five his parents took him to visit the caves in southern France where the cheese is made; the smell of the caves made him throw up and he hasn’t been able to eat cheese ever since.

George doesn’t have this problem and is happy the steak comes with a cheesy Roquefort sauce; he swaps a bit of the steak for a slice of the Margarita pizza that Elizabeth ordered.

Elizabeth considers the Margarita to be the purest of pizzas and that anything else is unnecessary and probably not Italian.

David shares this view, which is probably one of the reasons their marriage has endured.

Benny, who is looking at his steak like it was something that had crawled onto his plate, is also married. His youngest and only child, Jake, is walking around the restaurant looking at the people at the other tables.

Jake has only just learnt to walk and has no concept of physical space.

Consequently Lizzie doesn’t know that Jake is standing right behind her when she turns with the large plate of antipasti that David has ordered to go with the bottle of white wine.

Lizzie handles the moment well, she doesn’t do yoga but she is a dancer and has exceptional poise and balance.

Nothing amongst the antipasti falls onto the carpet.

The carpet is red.

The manager of Pizza Parlour chose a red carpet as it makes him think of Rome; he has never been to Rome but he imagines there to be a lot of stone in Rome and that the stone is red.

The manager is not a very logical man, something that normally would not be a good quality in a manager, but he speaks five languages.

His waitstaff come from five different countries so this has turned out to be incredibly useful.

The manager is in love with Lizzie but he hasn’t found the words to tell her in her own language, and unless he learns them before May his chance will disappear with her on a flight to Bali.

Benny’s wife, Jane, is not in the restaurant with Benny; she is very tired having spent the week alone with Jake and although it is only eight o’clock she is fast asleep at home.

She is dreaming about a birthday cake that she will make for her son Jake next week when he will be one and a half. It is not a conventional birthday, nor will it be a conventional cake; one part will be made with bananas and the other part will be made with cherries.

The two parts will be held together with butter icing.

In a moment Jane will wake up; she will be woken by the bells of the Catholic Church that stands on the corner opposite her, Benny and Jake’s apartment.

The church will ring the bells to call people to Vespers.

It is Sunday evening in the city.

sorry, been busy - the editor.

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