Monday, January 9, 2012

Dear Annie...a letter I found

Here's a letter I found inside a book (Voltaire's Candide):

Dear Annie,

It is a long time since I last heard from you: I hope you've been well.

My room is at the end of a long corridor, and overlooks the courtyard. It's small and I have to lie on the bed to take my shoes off. I have a wardrobe, a small desk, a chair and a bed. I love the wardrobe, which is a dark wood thirties thing, Utility issue. I can sit inside and enjoy the dark silence. If you come and visit we could sit in it together. You'd like it's mysterious smell, dust and wax combined.

I sit at the desk and look out the window. Usually I hear little from the courtyard save the sound of water running down the drains.
There's frosted glass on most windows but at times, I catch the creaking sound of a frame moving and the face of one of my neighbours appears, usually a pasty woman, with grey fair hair, a face suspended in the indeterminate period that strikes some women, older than twenty -five but younger than sixty. Sometimes it is another face, the face of a little plump girl: her fresh pink mouth smiles, her eyes are tiny bright black dots in her fleshy face.

Also, twice I saw a Siamese cat, perched with absurd elegance on the seat of an old bicycle... so the atmosphere is tranquil, like a Dutch painting: I wouldn't be surprised to see a clog-wearing servant appear with a white smock and bonnet and broom at any moment, clogs clicking on the cobbles.

I'm fighting the goblins still, but we have reached a sort of truce: the room has been divided in two.

We marked the floor with a white chalk: theirs are the areas between the door and my furniture- though the place is so small that to reach my furniture I must always trespass and, moreover, the chalk line cuts the left side of the bed (the only way we could realise complete parity of room area), so I have to be wary when I sleep not to let my body stray over to the side. But that was the best compromise we could find. At least they aren't shrieking all the time.

I hope to see you soon,


I suppose I wrote the letter some years ago in Camberwell.

Illustration: Arched Windows, monotype, 45 / 61 cm, 2003

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