Sunday, August 30, 2015

The last Bank Holiday before Christmas ...




















its four-thirty ... i've been up for more than three hours, woken by thirst and by the stiffness that creeps in to and cramps my lower back when i lay still for too long. Hoping to induce further sleep, i made a sandwich and a mug of cocoa fortified with spanish brandy ... Torres Diez.  No luck, and so i cast my gaze over the sitting room bookshelf wondering if i might discover comfort in some ancient favourite.  But my eye and my heart cannot agree and the shelf-scanning takes on a kind of anxiety and urgency until an expressionless little grey face looks right through me from the spine of a book which had somehow hidden itself in plain view at the very far end of a shelf.  I recognized a book I'd found in the Reigate Oxfam; the fading receipt was still pressed inside the cover, 29th November, 2013, £1.50, Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald.  A forbidding cover, a sober sounding name, the author a dead German who had worked in England.  Yet countless living writers have praised him whilst i've been avoiding our first meeting, fearful of a debilitating encounter with pain and misery.  Rightly !  But beyond that, he illuminates and affirms the principle that "knowing" and "understanding" are all we have to buttress and support the assailable fortress of the "soul".  Now why would i give such a four letter word the respectability of becoming a Noun as well as an abstraction ? The Soul ? Souls can only exist in my imagination, and yours, innit ?  But if we have to honour the notion of souls, how much time can we afford to waste in contemplation and speculation about their substance, their improbability ? Whoa ! Here come the armies of dead writers whose only legacy is an array of fictional souls, seen through the wobbly prism of the printed alphabet and the empty spaces between their words and sentences in which we hang our own imaginings like so much laundry, etc, etc. But i digress ! ...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

up before dawn and have just read the first chapters, and am hooked ...



















... then i went back to a really deep sleep for an hour and i dreamed one of those dreams that wakes you up because you know it has a "meaning" and a "message", and it reflects some deeply buried  and unfinished business from long ago ... oh. well ! you can't hope to resolve the whole of your past into neat rows of brightly coloured picture book stories with happy endings ... can you ?

postscript .... the novel narrates a series of truly horrid and gruesome events as experienced by a mixed bunch of heroin addicts whose lives intersect in bombay ... at the same time it examines the purpose and tenacity of people's so-called free will in a modern city ... the writing is transparent and i am very pleased to have encountered it ... three hurrahs !

Sunday, August 2, 2015

miguel and magdalena by the old main road at lagartera

















thirty years ago, just after semana santa

they lived in the middle of spain but they had seasonal jobs on the coast

they were waiting for a bus that would take them back to ? lloret de mar ? overnight

they didn't want to go, and tears had begun to fill their eyes