Before I shuffle from the mortal coil I would like to finish a novel, of which I have the barest bones sticking out of the mud at the moment.
It is set, partly at least, near this boatyard. This is a picture of my favourite boat. It has a wooden hull, sea-silvered. It used to flap in its dry dock under a great blue tarpaulin, but over the winters this has now disintegrated and blown away altogether. The renovation work, or whatever it is that you do to an old boat, is under way, but it is slow. In my mind, this is The Ark. Noah, the captain, comes up on the weekends, when Mrs Noah will let him, and used to rearrange what was left of the tarpaulin. Now that’s gone, I don’t know what he does, but this white flotation device didn’t used to dangle down as it does now. Perhaps Noah kicked it off the deck in irritation one time.
Same walk, different days perhaps. Hard to say.
I am happiest walking on the edges of fields. Parks and so forth have too many people.
I wanted to say something about the feeling of being depressed without the accompanying thoughts to drive it along. It’s a strange sensation but one I’ve learned I can experience physically, in isolation from my thoughts which are directed along a different track. It might be that it’s actually a vital divergence, and one necessary for survival. If it can’t be done, perhaps then, it’s the overwhelming combination that takes you over the edge, off the horizon, into the vanishing point.
I have a sense at the moment of saying not enough, but saying too much. The balance is a tricky one and, like walking a tightrope, not entirely in the realm of the conscious. Something said for effect falls fallow; holding back entirely leaves a person cold. Too much and you alienate the whole world. Knowingness – I don’t like. Certainties – which I admit I can be gripped by – fall away. Separating the wheat from the chaff, that’s the trick I suppose. I am not sure I can always do that, but probably best to try.
Soon the wheat will be gone, the kids will be back at school, an autumnal rhythm will start to play. We will not hang in the late summer air… waiting.
It has been a hot day. Now the children are back at school, anyone with any sense and money left will have gone on holiday. The rest of us are stuck on this train to Essex.
The woman diagonally opposite me looks of a delicate disposition. She reminds me of Frances de la Tour, but with platinum blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. She dabs at her face with a handkerchief. She is too elegant to slump in her seat, but she seems weighed down by something. As the train leaves London behind and heads towards the M25 belt that holds the city in, the heat, the time of day, her fellow passengers seem to get her down and she droops a little further. As do her eyelashes.
She is dressed as any conservative, even modest, city worker might. A pale fuschia linen shift dress and fitted cardigan for the expected autumn weather that has not quite arrived. Her shoes verge on the sensible. Her eyelashes are a feat of engineering but, in the heat, the glue seems to be melting. We cross the M25. Slowly, she removes her compact mirror from her small, neat handbag on her lap. She leans forward, peering into the mirror. She touches the undersides of her false lashes, lifting them slightly. I wonder if they had started to impede her vision. I wonder why she has them on for a day in the office. I know girls who wear false eyelashes all year round, work and play, but they are twenty. This commuter is anywhere between fifty and sixty-five.
When Operation Eyelash has been completed, she takes out a wet wipe from a packet and wipes round the edge of the compact and then her fingers. Then she takes out her mobile. It is possible that I am now on the edge of my seat. Certainly, I am trying not to stare. This woman makes strange but compelling viewing on this hot train. I have given up pretending to read the free newspaper. I am drawn in by her movements, all are slow and deliberate. This phone call must be important.
She does not press the ring button on the phone until the train is at a scheduled standstill. The voice on the other line answers the phone. We hear from him that his name is Steve. She says one word, so low that an eavesdropper like me would have to strain to hear it.
Then she hangs up.
Whenever I pass this marine skeleton along Paglesham Creek, I always wonder what it was.
I took this photo ages ago, back in the winter, but it resonates with me now because recently, as I have said, my brain just won’t work. My mind has been like a rusting hulk, run aground and of an unknown provenance. Now, I don’t want to jinx it, but it feels like the tide might have come in overnight and perhaps we are, once again, afloat. Perhaps…
I feed this animal about 4 times a day – I can never get a covering on his ribs. He always seems in good form though *touch wood*
He’s the third dog I’ve had; I’d like another smaller one. A walk’s not the same without a dog.
I didn’t take this photo – it was taken on a Samsung S2 mobile phone. Not bad at all.
I saw this scene a week or so ago, out near the unnamed creeks that surround Potton and Foulness islands. Walking out there, down at sea level, I am reminded of the phrase that Essex is the county that fills up twice a day with tidal salt water.
The scene specifically reminds me of a picture by David Shepherd called The Last Bales that used to hang on the wall at my Nan and Grandad’s house, alongside another print called The Winter Plough, which I have featured on here before.
I imagine David Shepherd is largely out of fashion these days, but I don’t know.
And I don’t even know if I like these things, it’s just they resonate on some level and I am compelled to note the fact.
I suppose I can say with certainty I like the striation to be found in nature, both in yesterday’s photo, and today’s.
Layers of colour and texture and light and sound.
Maybe it’s the reflection from glass in the painting, but I fancy I can see the wind – you can probably paint the wind better than you can photograph it. Which reminds me…
Markets are places I don’t visit very often and when I do go, I wonder why I don’t. But even when I remember to go, and am in awe of the cost savings opportunities, I find it hard to actually buy things. I am distracted by the many distractions. The shouts of the traders, the jokes they crack with punters, the ramshackle pricing structure, the feeling that I should be up for a haggle. As much as I am drawn in by it all, I am also repelled. It always seems so foreign. Foreign is not a word I like when applied to countries or people, but I am as unsighted down the road, in the market in the car park of the Southend Shrimpers Football stadium, as I remember being when I first arrived in Delhi. Roots Hall Market feels foreign to me.
I go there so rarely, that I noticed a difference from last time, which was probably last year, or the year before. There were not just the stallholders now; now there are cars, and the contents of the cars, tipped or arranged (depending on the driver’s disposition) on the ground in front of the car. It’s like a car boot sale mashed up with a market. It reminded me of the Hackney Wick market which I went to just once, despite living nearby. The Wick market was huge and intimidating. We bought a radio with no innards. Even now, I can’t see a blue plastic carrier bag without thinking of the Wick market, it was the mode of transport for the goods and the bads de rigueur.
The Wick market is long gone, replaced by the Olympic Park. Roots Hall will go in due course too – the football club is planning a new stadium and Sainsburys have their orange eyes on the site. I would like to get into the market shopping thing a bit more before it is gone forever. In the end, I overcame my nervousness the other day and bought 40 pegs, two tubes of Super Glue (one for glass) an Art Nouveau coffee tin (without a lid) and two books: one by Doris Lessing, the other by Enid Blyton. Total cost £4.30. I forced myself to not buy the Concorde Wedgwood dish, Concorde cutlery, stamped British Airways, and Concorde Royal Doulton side plates. Perhaps it is the hope of finding more British Airways crockery that draws me back. A few years ago I bought four British Airways duck egg blue, china bowls; I’ve only got one left now and, of course at the price, I wish that I’d bought a dozen.
In future, aside from hoping to see some more of those little blue bowls, if I get brave enough, I’d like to take a camera; in the meantime I took a mental snapshot with words, and fiddled it into a haiku.
Cheap seventh-hand books
fingertips, furtling, play spines
On dust, piano