note made 18 years ago

11am St Pancras/Sheffield. A man sleeping across the aisle from me. He has taken off his black leather shoes & put his stockinged feet on the seat opposite. The Daily Telegraph has fallen off the table at his side. Bedford station wakes him up & he opens his briefcase & begins to eat from a packet of crisps or something like it, putting his hand into the case each time he wants some more. While he is eating, his hand flops down to the seat at his side. He is quite a young man, with lively eyes, but this way of eating has a curiously furtive effect, as if he is reluctant to admit that he is eating at all. He drinks more openly, from a cardboard carton of pineapple juice, sucking at it energetically. A bit later he takes something from his waistcoat pocket, slips it into his mouth & repeats a few sentences to himself in a rapid mechanical voice while the flat landscape races past his shoulder, green with summer, wired for electricity with cables like the stitching in a good suit. He puts the newspaper aside for a book; he eats a chocolate bar. His toes twitch. The guard announces, “Ladies & gentlemen, Kettering station.” HE Bates country. A white butterfly bobs up and down between the platforms, fluttering towards London along the down-line, fragile but compelled.

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2 responses to “note made 18 years ago

  1. Krishna

    >>begins to eat from a packet of crisps or something like it

    “Something like it! That is very unsettling. What could be like a bag of crisps? But what really worries me is the “or”. It could even be a bag of crisps. It fluctuates between being a bag of crisps or being its shadowy close cousin and, like a perpetual roulette wheel, it never settles into a final state.”
    – an extract from The Wood for the Trees – Myopic Adventures in Extreme Close Reading – Z.J.Krishna.

  2. The butterfly is a knockout punch. ‘Fragile but compelled.’ Yes, and aren’t we all.