Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Redemption Songs

Please give me a second grace. Please give me a second face.
I've fallen far down, the first time around, now I just sit on the ground in your way.

Now if it's time to recompense for what's done, come, come sit down on the fence in the sun. (Nick Drake, 'Fly')


Spring means sex and Granta knows it.

Notes for an abandoned one act play, called Eros:

A man and woman sit side by side. The man is slightly older. She is writing on a yellow notepad. He is reading a large book.

Long silence.

Woman: This is what we’ll play. Finish this sentence…

Man: Okay.

He sets the book down in his lap.

W: (reading off her notepad) ‘The most erotic thing in the world is…’


M: You want me to answer?

W: Yes.

M: From there, ‘the most erotic thing is’? Really? (Pause) You’re not trying to tell me something?

W: No. I’m asking you.

M: Serious?

W: Serious. C’mon. Just finish this sentence.

He waits. Thinking. Looks down at his book, then at her. Then he picks up his book and slams it shut.

M: ‘The most erotic thing I can think of, I guess—if I had to say…’

W: ‘In the world.’

M: All right, the most erotic thing in the world is: (He shrugs.) The mouth.

W: The mouth?

M: Mouths…

He lets the sound of the word hang.

W: Whose?

M: (Decidedly now) Upturned, wanting. The desirous mouth. Lips, teeth—tongue. Most erotic.

W: (Unsure of this) Whose...?

M: Must be the mouth. For me it is, anyway. Yes, that pensive, hot, half-closed, delectable bud. Soft, swollen, kissable…You see?

She turns away, shaking her head.

M (cont'd): Why? What would should I have said?

She shrugs, goes back to her notepad, and begins crossing things out.

W: It wasn’t a test.

M: What? I was being honest. Give me some credit for originality, at least.

W: No, I just thought you might get beyond the anatomy and think of something more…than just a part.

M: It’s all parts, isn’t it? All our parts?

W: It’s so fucking obsessive. Really it is. You might as well just have said…

M: What?

She scowls at him.

M (cont'd): Oh, I could have.

W: You were practically describing one anyway. Some juicy woman’s in a magazine.

M: Well it would have to be a woman’s.

He smiles at her, waiting. Then she smiles back, upset that he’s got her laughing now.

W (pouting): I was just hoping for something else…

M: Like?

W: Like…(She sighs) Well something, I don’t know, more. Sunlight on hardwood floors, for instance, a lazy day with coffee and newspapers, and us walking around the flat half undressed…Making love on the floor in the midday sun.

M: Mmmm. Floor love. You see, now, don't you? This is precisely why I love the mouth. It's where these phrases come from. The locus.

W: I could punch your locus right about now.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Hand in Hand in Hand

Image from Being Human: Enigmatic Images of People by Unknown Photographers

Mother was pretty oblivious, Dad was god knows where, and I was never really all that close with any of my brothers, so I guess it makes sense that, instead of imaginary friends, I came up with two imaginary sisters. Esther and Mathilde were their names. The first was just a couple years younger than me, the other five years older. Me, myself, and I, you’ll probably think, but it was more complex than that. I was already ten or eleven at the time, and I’d sit around, making up entire conversations with these two other girls. I was fascinated by all that Mathilde knew, the way Esther looked at the world. They were different, yet sisterly. They weren't just the projections of an awkward girl, vague presences in the background. They were others, they were true siblings I loved.

Mathilde wrote poetry and was always running off to Europe, returning with cigarettes and small souvenirs and tales of foriegn men. She told us once about a fairytale evening in a Viennese garden, waltzing barefoot with a baron, a married man (his wife inside doing the dishes). She talked about staying up all night in a museum and doing cartwheels across the marble floors, through prehistoric times. Also getting kissed under streetlamps in the rain.

Esther was a long distance runner, 9 years old and just as fast as the junior varsity champ at the local high school, a boy named Dean. She chopped all her hair off in second grade--Christopher Robin short--in order to cut down on wind resistance. She also liked stealing books from the library, conterfeiting library cards and checking things out under assumed names, whatever she could get away with. Once or twice she even passed herself off as boy, signing her name with a flourish.

Me, I was always turning to them for advice, getting their points of view on things. I also found myself saving little stories for them, things that had happened to me throughout the day, things no one else ever would have given a damned about. Just them. They had faith in even the smallest of things. Faith that real life was a hidden thing that could be discovered, collected, and cared for. Held cupped in both hands, warmly, protectively.

Ceci n'est pas ma vie sexuelle

Beautiful scene, from a beautiful film. Startlingly true. Something I would have liked to have written in a novel. A strenghth, a confidence about it, I wish was mine.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Walking to the Library

An orange left unpeeled on somebody's lawn. And a sky, somehow, suddenly, in flight. Full of gentle eager wings. A description of Philip Roth's (from Goodbye, Columbus), springing to mind: an embrace in which the young man says he can imagine tiny invisible wings on a young lady's back, beating softly.

Here is Javier Marías, in his essay 'What Does and Doesn't Happen,' from 1995: We all have at bottom the same tendency… go on seeing the different stages of our life as the result and compendium of what has happened to us and what we have achieved and what we’ve realised, as if it were only this that made up our existence.

And we almost always forget that…every path consists of our losses and farewells, of our omissions and unachieved desires, of what we one day set aside or didn’t chose or didn’t finish, of numerous possibilities most of which – all but one in the end – weren’t realised, of our vacillations and our daydreams, of our frustrated projects and false or lukewarm longings, of the fears that paralysed us, of what we left behind or what we were left behind by.

We perhaps consist, in sum, as much of what we have not been as of what we are, as much of the uncertain, indecisive or diffuse as of the shareable and quantifiable and memorable; perhaps we are made in equal measure of what could have been and what is.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Place to Be

Tonight, with An Angel at My Table

Saturday, 10 April 2010


Jeremy Irons in his first film

Woke up today, one big throbbing ache. Then, once in the shower, started singing 'Marry Me, John...I'll be so good to you,' to myself, tapping my foot in the warm swishing water. Little window cast open, breathing deep. A smell like summer, very close.

Jeremy Irons in his second film