Sometimes when I think about losing weigh and the effort and exercise just to shed a few pounds I reflect on H G Well’s Mr Pyecraft. Weight, size and the resultant self-image are largely illusionary things that can be pursued but never caught. Feeling fit and healthy and comfortable with yourself is quite different and much more inner than outer. Feeling good does go with looking god, in a parallel way but they seldom intersect. Often I feel hungry in the core of my being, I feel the gnaw and the knots in my stomach as if it was devouring itself, growling and bubbling in anticipation of a crust. Then that feeling passes and my core sulks, denies it’s needs and slinks back like a battered beast that has been maltreated. Then I eat something, it’s never enough but it silences the howl. Then maybe I take some exercise, a brisk walk or a cycle, I feel ok but my mind is restless. The truth is that I want to eat and drink what I want, indulge that great Scottish appetite for excess and fill every god shaped, dog shaped and whisky shaped hole to it’s addicted limit and then float, serene, grinning, smug and over indulged like a rotund Pyecraft. Then I wake up and I’m not hungry at all. It must be a new hotel room but as is my habit I don’t recall checking in.
I though of us up there in that hotel room, alone and busy, supping great classic drinks and smoking, like Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda. Here we are half mad with the alcohol, the clothes and the creative drive that’s pushed us into this elegant prison with either a typewriter or a laptop, depending on the era. The drapes are close to closed, only allowing in the thinnest bands of the Mediterranean light, keeping the cell shrouded, hanging in smoke and passing clouds. Providing lift and nesting spaces for random words and phrases so they can float in that gap about our heads and below the ceiling until they finally encage with a kindred idea and can come to rest on the screen or paper.
We are asleep in a Steampunk world of planned disorder, we gather artifacts to worship, we hope to find uses for them and we read books hoping to find meaning and short cuts. Books that will lead us across bridges and obstacles with their iron and steel words, taking us places we would otherwise have missed. This illusion of education and shared experience is hard to avoid, it pops up like some acid distraction and causes our thoughts to fail in this perpetual eclipse. Somebody someplace knew better and wrote it all down in a book and we, desperate to claw our way to that place read it and then replicate it and replace it with another. Our unseen audience scoops them up and places them on shelves, in cardboard boxes or in suitcases but as long as there is an income stream to be accessed then why should we care (and that is not a question).
A nervous waiter brings in a tray of fresh drinks, bowls of lemons and limes, ice in a silver bucket, gin, tonic and more gin. A Champagne bottle pops out on the balcony and laughter, thinner than the sunlight edges into the space. I’m too bust pretending to concentrate, she is too busy too notice, the girl on the balcony is sipping and smiling and looking out across and blue sea that burns cold with an inner light of drowned promise. “How I love this time of day, it makes my troubles melt away, just to see the porpoise’ play in the ocean’s frantic spray” The words are tagged onto a Gershwin melody that she repeats between sips. All of the land is locked in siesta, asleep and blind, we are locked in the search for a holy grail of plotted ideas and she is trapped in her bottle blonde world.
Sweating at the brow I stand up a walk backwards from my desk and throw an ice cube into my mouth, sucking it as if it could lead to the source of some inspirational point, sucking as if it gave me strength. Then I ‘m alongside, like a liner on the balcony, parting the drapes and blinking in the sharp sunlight. Zelda person reacts and pretends to swoon but quickly joins us with her glass. We mumble about royalties and royal families and royal swear words. We sit back in those finer white cane chairs that came from somewhere, we talk about our writings and look at each other, painfully thin through the lenses of these expensive sunglasses that still fail to cut out the glare. But then maybe it’s the over stretched glare of our failing personalities, burning out before our eyes, dying like some alien race about to go down, below the surface as in a repeat of Atlantis and other lost legends. Civilization interrupted and held back, progress denied and stunted, growth impaired and development thwarted. If we only had something to say we could have such an enjoyable conversation.
“I see all people as equal, all as the same, all as different and all as victims of the eternal shame. The original sin was never man’s; god (he deserving only a small g) committed it with his nonsensical vision. We failed him because that was all we could have done. Now people marvel at it all and waste their lives in ridiculous devotions, competitions with other narrow minded idealists or bigots and cathedral building exercises. No sane god would have let this happen.” She finished speaking and sipped more champagne. “ See that dog sleeping in the shade there? He has more purpose and knows more satisfaction than any one of us because he is a dog and dogs don’t go to war with one another.”
“God failed us first because we invented him in such a slipshod manner,” Zelda piped up from the room from the couch. “He failed us first and we now build our careers on perpetuating and exploring that failure but at least we have sex and alcohol to dull the pain. And we have errant days like these and crashing typewriters to click the miles of paper that lie between us and that artificial heaven you seem determined to manufacture for us.”
“I was never my intention to deceive any of you.” I said. With that I rolled up the newspaper, left the company and went next door for a cool shower. Tomorrow we would travel across continents and under newly formed clouds, the aroma of strange cookery and spices opening and stimulating our senses at every turn.