Tuesday, 28 July 2015

July stories - Ideas

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Ideas


It has been twenty years and he still sends me ideas. He sends me ideas for films, music, paintings, novels, performances. He sends outlines, synopsis and precis, sketches, scanned doodles, phone recordings, phone photos, links to things. He tells me this is about to happen or that just might be the next thing. Often, for him, it's all about scrapping the lot and starting from scratch but sometimes it's more about having a clear objective, just being focused and re-imagining. There are days, weeks when nothing is sent to me. In the absence of his ideas I relive all the previous ones, they filter into my dreams. The shapes of his ideas interlink with my day, they converge, they pulsate and give my mouth a sharp metallic tang. Some ideas become so familiar, if only in my mind's eye, it is as if they have already begun to take shape. I have to tell myself: this isn't likely to happen, this isn't it. When he again resumes the sharing of the most recent ideas it's like the tide coming back in, a sort of relief but I dare not bathe in them - that is consider any idea to be actual - I dare not coax an idea into being greater than an idea. There is nothing ideal about any of it. What is most impressive, aside from the sheer range of ideas, is the possible knowledge he has acquired over time regarding how to put ideas together. There's a definite skill to all this, a certain deft quality to his way of thinking. It is this restraint that fascinates me, for it has be more than impulse that drives him. And of course I am very jealous of anyone who can simply come up with so much and yet never have to actually make it happen. It's like always being at the beginning of a story, in the warm glowing part when things are quietly exciting, but then never moving on. He's always at the start of something great with that just-tangible mood. I am as much caught up in his beginnings as he is obsessed with starting anew. I realise now how selfish I have been, always happy to read his ideas and never reciprocating, never replying to his emails with lists of my own.  My own ideas are possibly very little to do with me but are so saturated with his ideas I haven't any clear understanding of how my mind may hold an independent idea! I know now I may be failing, my ideas are but pale things. I may need to think about this.

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Monday, 27 July 2015

July stories - In Any Language

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In Any Language


Our four year old daughter stood on the window sill, watching for the rain to stop. My husband was was talking on the phone in his native French. He likes to pace about the room giving any conversation a sense of importance. I sat doodling a little of my daughter's shape, a little of moving husband, on facing pages of my sketchbook. My daughter said one of our young neighbours was outside in the rain, stood by his motorbike, rolling and lighting a cigarette. She gave a little running commentary: he's rolling it, he's getting matches from his pocket! Matches! My husband's phone conversation was getting stressed-sounding. After five years together I could still not entirely understand him. When I broke my pencil and the lead skated across the sketchbook page, and I swore in French, my husband turned to me and told me he thought I should just give up trying to swear. It just sounds wrong from you in any language, he said and then apologised to whomever it was he was speaking to on his phone. Later I was cooking pasta for dinner and daughter came in from the garden and asked if her friend could be invited to eat with us. She asked me in French and then English and did a little curtsey. I was pretty certain by friend she meant one of her various imaginary friends or a soft toy, so I said yes so long as they washed their hands with soap. When I walked from the kitchen to the dining room and saw my husband pouring wine for our young neighbour, the smoker, sat at our dinner table, I was a little surprised. I served the pasta, remembered the salad. My husband poured more wine and chatted with our neighbour about motorbikes. Our neighbour told us he was nineteen and was never going to drive a car, he had given it some thought but nah. He sat comfortably at our table, eating pasta, passing bread to our daughter. And daughter said: isn't this just lovely. My husband told our neighbour about the motorbike near-death accident he had in Paris when he was in his early twenties: but I had been racing and was very stoned, he said and our daughter laughed a haughty laugh like an old lady. My Dad's old, you know, she told our neighbour, he's like sixtysomething. That's proper old. She raised her glass of apple juice and we all toasted to old age. Later that evening my husband told me, in French, he was going away for a few weeks and taking our daughter with him. I said he just can't do that, she still has a few weeks of nursery school until the holidays and what was this, and why? I felt a rush of panic. Was he leaving me, taking her? He shrugged. It seems funny now, looking back, but at that moment I had this image in my head: my husband and daughter riding on a motorbike, high speed, riding away. Your French is terrible he said, we are all going away! We need a change and to improve your French so we're going to Paris to visit my mother, she's just had an operation. I found myself trembling with relief. My French is terrible, I said, please help me. And he held me and held me.

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Sunday, 26 July 2015

July stories - Picture Book

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Picture Book


Overnight, with so much rain, the tall flowers that look like foxgloves but are not foxgloves have grown so very tall. Purple, black-purple, cerise flowers with no need for staking. They are picture book flowers. The sisters watch from a bedroom window, watch the flowers swaying, growing taller and taller. They have got here by accident, the younger sister says. Like all good things, older sister says. The next night the sisters sneak into the garden. The flowers have a fox stench. A beautiful fox stench, younger sister says. A beautiful stink, older sister says, like all good things. They watch as moths come to feed. Moths disappear into the flowers. I would look inside a flower,  older sister says, but it might eat my glasses off. Younger sister stands on tiptoes to peer inside a spotless flower, but all is dark. They sit amongst the flowers and wait for something else yet more mysterious. Yes more mysterious, younger sister says. Something that is like something but is not something, older sister says. They dare not sleep. They count how many moths and other night insects enter into flowers never to be seen again. It's impossible to imagine, younger sister says, sleepily. Like all good things, older sister says.

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