The naive, the unconstructed, the accidental ghost. The ghost from the faded polaroid found in a shoebox of letters from someone else’s life. Things that might not be there; things that have no existence other than possibly not being there; things that can only have your attention drawn to them. Reading should be as close as possible to discovering those letters and seeing something in them that might not be there. The writer should offer the shoebox, or better still the stall at the flea market on which the shoebox might be found. I’m not interested in any other way of writing anyway.
Tag Archives: ghosts
Those who have failed to regulate the self. Those whose behaviours enact a medicating fiction. Those who flew to the Canary Islands on a cheap ticket in December 1991 & left the remains of their personality in the apartment hotel. Those who ran from everything in a zig-zag pattern, so fast they never found the transitional object. The unsoothed. The dysmorphic. The unconditional. Those who were naive enough to take what they needed & thus never got what they wanted & whose dreams are now severe. Those who await Gefco. The confused. The pliable. Those who look at the sea & immediately suffer a grief unconstrained but inarticulable. Gefco is coming. Gefco you are always with us. Gefco we are here!
Photo: Nick Royle.
“Yes, I don’t know why, but I have never been disappointed … without feeling at the same time, or a moment later, an undeniable relief.”
–Samuel Beckett, The Expelled (1946), my ellipsis.
When I woke up this morning the radio was on in the big room on the first floor. It was mysterious how that happened. I heard eerily public voices behind the closed door. I listened. I went in. I didn’t knock. A woman had just referred to “nutters” & “loony bins”. Picked up on her terminology by the interviewing voice, she replied in smooth good-humoured tones with words to the effect of, “It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just my way,” & began to talk again as if nothing had happened. Then a prof was asked his opinion, which he gave at length. The three contesting voices echoed for a minute or two in this cold, tranquil, rather empty room with its odd fireplace & disappointing floorboards. I wondered if the radio had been on all night. I wondered if they had been talking like this all night. I wondered what subjects they had covered in the endless grinding contemporary three-cornered conversation of concerned mediation etc etc. Then I went downstairs & put some coffee on. When I got back it was a different trio, sitting in judgement on some useless weak-eyed shit transfixed by the spotlight of the idealisation/devaluation cycle. I wondered if we would ever grow out of late 1970s male adolescent music-reviewer BPD & free ourselves to act forwards in a useful adult manner.
We aren’t part of that dispute at all. & we wouldn’t want anyone to know we had seen the pictures. We’re fine thank you, we just don’t like the train. The door isn’t right. We don’t like the door. Everyone else in the carriage is asleep, everyone but us. The train is so slow. The soup gave us indigestion & we don’t like the faces at the window. We are not part of that. We are not part of that. The soup gave us indigestion & we don’t like the faces at the window. The train is so slow. Everyone else in the carriage is asleep, everyone but us. We don’t like the door. The door isn’t right. We’re fine thank you, we just don’t like the train. & we wouldn’t want anyone to know we had seen the pictures. We aren’t part of that dispute at all.
“I forgot to say,” I wrote to her, “that we had some rain yesterday. And some hail. And some high winds. It’s very children’s book up here.” Then, the following afternoon: “This is going to be a permanent adventure. The main fusebox switched off everything but the lower ring main just as it got dark. An overnight leak in the bathroom dripped through the floor and into the kitchen sink.”
I was trying to entertain her, but she only wrote back: “I’m surprised your surveyor didn’t pick up on the leak.”
Later, I emailed: “I’ve got a feeling no one’s used the bidet for years.” To be honest I had only used it myself because I couldn’t find anywhere else to clean my shoes, which had picked up some kind of gluey ash in the garden. “I’m painting the study ivory white. Ivory white is a story in itself.”
While I was writing that a wasp pushed itself into the room from behind the wooden blanket chest, as suddenly as if it had made itself from nothing. I looked behind the chest and found a ventilator, daubed with layers of paint. Had the wasp blundered down the old chimney? It flew straight up into one of the skylights and sat on a bent nail, grooming its antennae. I tried to hit it with the local freesheet, but I couldn’t reach that high; and anyway I didn’t believe in it as a wasp. My writing long ago began to fill up with characters who suspect that they don’t understand the world: not because the world is impossible to understand (though it is) but because their intelligence has either reached its own limits or the emotional limits that demark what it can be allowed to understand.
I haven’t cut my nails since we arrived here. They haven’t grown much. Perhaps it’s something in the water.
I wondered if I should cut my nails when we arrived here. But in the subsequent month they’ve hardly grown. Something in the water, perhaps. That’s what F thinks.
I remember looking at my nails the day after we arrived here, and wondering if I should cut them. In the subsequent month, though, they’ve hardly grown. “Something in the water, perhaps,” F suggests when I tell her. She looks down at her own nails.
I looked at my nails the day after we arrived here and wondered if I should cut them. A month later, they’ve hardly grown. “Something in the water,” F suggests when I tell her. She shrugs. She won’t let me look at her nails, but later I catch her examining them carefully.
I remember looking at my nails the day after we arrived and asking F if she thought I should cut them. A month later they’ve hardly grown. F shrugs. “Something in the water,” she suggests. She won’t let me look at her nails, but later I catch her at the bathroom sink, washing her hands, spreading her fingers, washing again. “What’s the matter?”
The day after we arrived, I remember, I asked F if she thought I should cut my nails. A month later they’ve hardly grown. F shrugs. “Something in the water,” she suggests. She won’t let me look at her nails–though I am always up for inspection, F never is. But later, passing the bathroom door, I catch her at the sink, washing her hands, spreading her fingers hands held flat above the water, washing again. “What’s the matter?” I ask. “Nothing,” she says, smiling and closing the door. “Nothing’s the matter.” Then, from inside: “Nothing, nothing, nothing’s the matter.”
The day after we arrived, I remember, I asked F if she thought we should cut our nails. A month later mine have hardly grown. F shrugs. Something in the water, she suggests. She won’t let me look at her nails. I am always up for inspection, F never is. Later, passing the bathroom door, I catch her at the sink, washing her hands; spreading her fingers, hands held flat above the water; washing again. What’s the matter? I ask. Nothing, F says, smiling and closing the door. Nothing’s the matter. Then, from inside: Nothing, nothing, nothing’s the matter.
Nothing will ever be the matter again.
When I first came here I saw a hawk kill a starling then crouch over it on the pavement in Grove Road. I thought I was hallucinating. After that, the old cat kept the birds away. Now he’s gone, life is back in the garden. Two wood pigeons have constructed something deep inside the foliage of the bay tree and are raising a brood there. They make an enormous fuss about getting in and out, struggling and flapping as if to demonstrate to someone that they weren’t designed for this. They are performing how hard the pigeon life is; how hard it is to be a parent; how conscientiously Barnes and committed they are being about it all. The forget-me-nots, meanwhile, are still in flower. Poppies and columbine thrive. Two or three rose buds have cracked to display promising glimpses of deep red. Fiona upstairs has mowed the lawn.