early try, disallowed
“I’m painting the study ‘ivory’ white, with pale grey woodwork,” I told her in an email. It was going to take a coat or two to cover the previous owner’s ecstatically electric blue. “Ivory white,” I wrote, “is a story in itself. When I asked B&Q if they stocked Farrow & Ball paint, they looked embarrassed and said no. There wasn’t really any call for it. They had a similar range, though, called Fired Earth. Ah, I said. Maybe that’ll do. Great, they said, because Fired Earth’s reduced by fifty percent: no one wants that either. When I checked out Fired Earth, they had a white called ‘Papyrus (previously Parchment)’. That was its name, on the tin, the emulsion previously known as parchment. Anyway I thought Ivory would be a safer bet.” In a later email I described the racks of tools in B&Q as “male ornaments, collectible objects for men”. I see now that I was trying too hard. But she took it in good part. On the same day I wrote in my diary: “A man standing in his shirtsleeves in the pouring rain. He looks as if he’s waiting by his car for someone, but no one comes.” This seemed much closer to the truth of things, at B&Q or anywhere else.
Note for an abandoned version of The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again.