Friday, December 24, 2010

The Beasties



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We live in a big place that was once in the country but is now between a ring road and some yellow cul de sacs. But there are still some big old trees to hide us.
 
Every day I get up at 8.00am. I do that because I've found it best, it makes me feel better, because when you're lying there the beasties come, their antennae can be long and they’ll take advantage of your langour to invade and crawl. But my habits sometimes are broken out of desire for experimentation, or perversity and I'll seek to test the beasties and I lie there half asleep half awake and allow them to get close, some of them red and six-tailed: I want to see how close I can let them come without dread-sickness overwhelming me.

After breakfast I stroll in the garden.I see James in the garden with his stick. He's got a hole, which he's been poking every day now for two months.  "James" we each ask, "may I poke it?". He replies, "no no no! it is my hole!" I can see from the cringing way he speaks that he knows this is selfish.

I do not mind. I have my own bed and a mop which was discarded in the old road leading the the suburb. I have often wondered how it got there, because it is surely useless to mop the street. The mop has limited funcionality, the head is worn and matted and its purpose is more ceremonial, and at times the fancy takes me to stand at the gates bearing it, at attention when guests arrive, like one of the palace guards.

I have also a wardrobe which I can lock and several things within, a good deal of French soap and shoes made of brown calfskin, very soft and tender friends, which I caress before wearing, they are shiny and trustworthy. There are other things too which I might tell you about another time.

After breakfast I may stroll or pay visits. I sense the town is changing, oiks in training shoes with thick soles of coloured plastic and fat laces encroaching from the yellow buildings of the cul de sacs, with their tv culture, their chicken McNuggets, their obesity and bad English. Thus, my ambulations have poignancy: I inspect old fences and the roots of trees, touch the damp leaves of elms and smell moist bark or earth. 

I lunch with the others, it’s just after midday and everyone is animated: even Teresina has awoken and is inspecting her cutlery with extraordinary devotion. I think the beasties then are at their weakest, they can't be seen, they fear the daylight and the our healthy appetites. Neal tells bawdy jokes, everyone laughs; we eat more, greedily slurping bean soup, devouring prawns cooked in garlic butter, rick cakes, a glass of Chablis, then a Graves with the Beef Wellington.

I doze in one of the easy chairs after, or assist Frank with his model Cutty Sark- there is not much I can do to help, in truth, but I sit beside him earnestly sanding the edges of a balsa wood piece. Or I might go and recline in one of the giant sofas, dozing and half reading the newspaper. Or I might lie down, I might lie on my bed and weep helplessly like a girlchild abandoned in a wood, whose mother cannot hear her because of the traffic noise Zoom zoom! from a nearby overpass.

We take tea at 4 o' clock. I'm not having a good time of it and the beasties have been back. No one talks abut the beasties, and it's pretty obvious why, which is that there isn't anything you can do about them anyway, and because, contrary to common understanding- specifically the common understanding of the female mind- talking about things doesn't make them disappear.

Also, when we were taking tea and, somehow, in the conversation, the beasties were mentioned, Evrett became agitated, shaking, in his easy chair and cried. Seeing Evrett cry was not good, it made us all feel ashamed, diminshed.

There are days when it is good to take the bus to another place, only to be there and see things and sense the differences, such as how the air is soft close to the sea, or the business on the supermarket, how the people love to put ready meals in baskets then cars and then to drive slowly in a metal queue with their radios playing to their brick suburbs where they have children and store their cars and x-boxes and wear clothing marked by stripes or slogans.

Today I walk to the town. I go to the butcher, to the fruitier, to man in the antiques shop who is always angry. I go to the library and watch the books being scanned in an out by a woman who is always nervous.

In the evening there might be a meeting in the old ballroom to discuss a programme. Then, under huge cut glass chandeliers we sit on chairs of plastic which can be stacked with a harsh metallic sound. Someone is standing on a dias speaking, Neal is making a braying sound, and James is inspecting his stick. Frank is staring at the walls: I follow his gaze with my eyes: the walls are not still, their surface tone is modulating, changing crisply like thie pixels of a faulty television. I peer more closely, then I can see, it is the beasties, how they are crawling on the walls, their black bodies reflecting the crystal lamplight.


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