Friday, 31 January 2014

A first trip of the year (4b or 7)

Thirteen people are sitting at a long table, in fact two tables pushed together.

Conversation is animated, even lively, drinks are flowing and intimacy is exchanged.

The tables are pulled apart to accommodate the late arrival who sits at one end and suddenly I am at the edge – marooned from the two groups that polarize at the far ends.

I know intimate details about some of these people, a lot of random and finally abstract facts about the others - but it doesn’t seem to help me return from being adrift.

The evening has enough similarities to The Last Supper – a long table, thirteen folk –for me to see that I can only be cast as Judas.


We are still some distance from the mountains when the busses stop, as this is as close as public transport runs.

A hundred or so of us descend and walk across the snow to the stands where the ski agents take our bookings and issue us with receipts.

These we take to the sheds on the far side of the field where the supply women issue the badges.

Mine is refused.

I don’t know why – I have the same paperwork. I stood in the same queues but she demands something that I don’t have and the others drift off to the snow.

I remonstrate, I argue, I illustrate and cajole her to return to the stands with me, where this all began.

They are no longer there.

My companions do not understand and drift away too.


One of these two events is real; one was a dream.

They are separated by nines hour sleep – enough to start a new day.

The house echoes only to the sounds of a sleeping house – a boiler gurgles, a radiator creaks, the fridge whirrs. There is a step on the stairs and the cat appears. He gives a solitary meow and jumps onto my lap.

Outside the sky is grey; it is no longer raining.

The rain had begun on the ferry, it was dark at the time but the lights on the deck showed that the sea and sky had become one.

It was probably raining elsewhere too but it was if the boat was riding in a squall all of it’s own.

I had stood on the deck watching the lights of Dieppe drift away into the night’s distance, trying to find this moment romantic but failing miserably.

I ate a cheese sandwich.

And I dozed uncomfortably in a chair designed to torture anyone who tried to sleep in it.

I woke and was alone, so I bought a tea and read another chapter of the book that I have been reading for too long – a book in which nothing really happens and everyone seems to be waiting.

At first this seemed to be a strength of the writing, now it just seems to be annoying and I want to end the thing as quickly as time allows.

It’s a big book.  

I don’t finish it before leaving the boat, and I drive up the ramp into the rain and debris of Newhaven.

I am tired, I have been driving for two days and I smell of travel. I need a bath, I need fizzy water, I need refreshing.


Anne Hodgson said...

Perhaps the book needed a dip in the Channel. Have you found something more engaging?

popps said...

I have a PILe of what looks engaging - Paul Auster on the top - but i HAVE TO finish this one first - so i guess it's good enough to not abandon it.