1994: draft of a paragraph for Signs of Life
Listen, I’m not here now. I’m free now. I’m driving slowly through wet city streets. It’s my favourite car. My clothes aren’t old. They aren’t new. They’re just right. The car stereo is playing Tom Waits. The lights of approaching cars are starring out on the windscreen. I am making only the required decisions. Brake lights flare ahead. Traffic lights change. Intersections appear & slowly move away, to the right or the left & always to the rear. In the shop lights I see comfort things, comfort goods: more cars, more stereos, more tapes & compact disks, more adverts for cars & computers & music. Nothing that can happen to me here is significant. I will reach into the glove compartment with a kind of absent irritation. I will be looking for something I have forgotten even as my hand touches it. It will be a cigarette, a paper tube of sweets. A book of matches (Ruby in the Dust, Islington). I will probably even light the cigarette, although I have not smoked for nearly twenty years. I will never leave the city however far I drive. Each pizza house will be succeeded by a Thai palace. Rocket Burger will precede Hip Bagels. Tom Waits will pass on to “Big Black Maria”, just loud enough to block out the engine noise but never loud enough to centre itself in my awareness. I can do that because I’m free now.