Thursday, 29 March 2012

Viva Maria

Ok, he thought, she's not beautiful in the traditional way, neither is she ugly pretty, she's something else, really something else and he couldn't put a finger to it or quite find the word. Her clothes were well chosen, intelligently you would say, her grooming and make up just right; he wanted to touch that hair, feel it. She was attractive and fascinating, maybe that was it, maybe it was the fascination that she engendered just in bucket loads, she was no model but she was fascinating. He couldn't stop thinking about her. That's where it gets a man, when he can't lose a woman in his thoughts. She kept on invading them and he was chasing her in them but chasing her through a maze, her back to her. She wasn't running fast or sprinting or sweating, she was just ahead of him, all the time. Out of touch, out of reach, elusive, but he had to catch her.

She was a regular visitor to another department in the building, he watched her come and go from his office, he looked for a pattern in times, he planned to bump into her in the foyer or the corridor or in the lift, get a few words in, say hello and take it from there. He had seen her now about a dozen times in the past few weeks, a couple of times quite close, no wedding ring, no companions hanging about. He'd made a few discreet enquiries with reception and with a couple of girls across the office. Not much was known about her but she always came and went alone. She was working for a consultancy, advising on a project, something to do with financial structures, she was in demand by all accounts. Good, she'll keep on coming back. His feelings were...err...galvanising.

It was on a Wednesday that she next arrived, she was driving a silver Golf, he saw her down across the car park making her way in across the car park. It was drizzling, she was wearing a tan mac and holding one of those transparent umbrellas. We watched her weave around the cars, down the block paved path, under the entrance canopy and into reception out of sight. He could've watched her move like that all day. He gave a cough, nodded across to a colleague and pointed towards the door. “Water!”

By the time he'd got down to reception the swing doors leading to accounts and the financial directors office were swinging closed. Missed her. He smiled at the glum receptionist and point to the door, she nodded, “missed her.” He gulped, turned on his heels and headed through the doors towards finance. He was blinking and felt a hot sweat across his back, perhaps he would catch up, perhaps she'd be waiting on one of the couches or at the cooler or something. He was headed down the corridor, all the doors were closed, nobody in sight. The corridor ended with two fire doors and led into an open office full of workstations, headsets and at the far end partitioned private offices. He had momentum now, he kept going, this was the maze, this was the daydream coming true, this was the chase, this was blurring at the edges but hot, purposeful and focused right there at the molten centre. A man searching for a mate, quarry, a prize, a tilt, a chance, an opportunity. “Winners make their chances and winners take their chances”, said an inner voice. The voice overpowered any office noise, chatter or hellos that were swirling around, he was travelling with a purpose.

Ahead was the door of the financial directors office, it was closed. He could hear voices. Not now, he couldn't go in now. He was stuck like a bloodhound that couldn't follow the scent across the water. Stuck. He stood for a few seconds mentally marking the boundary of his territory and headed back to his desk, a bit more slowly this time. As his thoughts settled he felt good, he had acted and taken a sensible course of action in not bursting into the meeting to say...what? Now he knew where she was, knew she'd be here most likely all, she's on his turf and he can wait, at least wait till four or five or whenever she leaves. Today he will hover, he will bide time and then he will act.

His idea, when it arrived seemed simple. Get to the car park and park close to or next to her but the silver Golf was in a visitor’s space along way from his parking spot. He needed to get in there, into that space, parallel parked. At about three thirty he made a lame excuse about his reading glasses being in the car and left the office. He walked lowly past her parked vehicle, no spaces close by yet. Ok, there's time, I can do this, I'll get my car over here and loiter until a space comes up.

Two hours later he's hoped out of eight spaces and is two cars away from the Golf, there is sweat building on his brow and he needs to pee, to eat and to drink. The radio is driving him crazy, he punches the wheel, still she does not appear. In the building office lights are slowly going out, more staff and visitors have left, now there are more spaces than cars. Her's still sits there, stubbornly defiant. It's dulling over and the rain has returned. He wakes up in the dark, he's cold, really does need to pee now and the dashboard clock says 01:30. Bugger.

Next morning he arrives a little late, the Golf is gone, strange cars occupy all the visitors spaces, the world has turned; things have moved on. He goes up to the office, sits at his desk and picks up a mail and new appointment from his manager. “please see me when you come in.” He shuffles over to the other side of the office, his manager gestures for him to come in and sit down. “Last night's CCTV is quite interesting, the security company forwarded me a link, can you tell me what's going on here?” He explains, not in detail that he's taken a shine to this woman, maybe gone about it the wrong way, sorry for any confusion created...and so on. The manager grins, “maybe I can help you a little on this one, she's in to audit some project team, with us for about another week, her name is Maria Bennet, I think, don't know much more, the girls in supplies were giggling about her, I overheard a bit of it.”

That night he drove home, she hadn't been into the office today so today seemed extra empty. He thought he needed to find some phrase, some term to hold onto to describe the feeling. It was as if humiliation was orbiting around the planet of frustration where he lived in a house called inadequate doing a job called futile working for a firm named uncaring whilst living a life called empty. Then his phone rang, the number was withheld.

“Hello?” “ Hi, my name is Maria...”.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Well that's that

Just sold the Cougar on Gumtree.  It was inevitable that it should go and come the day it went pretty quickly. Clean, dirty and gone into the March mist. Irreplaceable but that's just what happens, life goes on.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Losing track of things

An inventory of shirts, in the wrong place.

It's quite important to me to that I don't lose track of things. I like to know, with a fair degree of certainty where things are. I like the secure feeling I get when I can experience a strong sense of “everything in it's proper place”. I'm anxious if I'm unsure where something is or if I perceive it to be in the wrong place, whatever you take from that. None of this means I'm well organised or that my possessions and assets are in any kind of obvious order. Quite the contrary, I'm not really sure that much of the methodology that I employ to organise my life would stand up to real scrutiny. So this whole “placing” of things is quite subjective and indeed based around feelings and the interpretation of the moment. What items do I value? What should be in it's proper place? Well I suppose that I could produce a list of the premier divisions of items that I would place high up there in my life inventory, it would look something like this I guess:

Wallet – in my pocket (upper jacket or rear trouser) or on the stand by the hall, (the wallet contents of course represent a lower level of inventory direction), subsets of bank and credit cards, receipts, cash, driving licence and so on. Also two unclaimed jackpot winning lottery tickets that I rather like holding onto until the last minute.

Keys – almost all on the one main ring, in my pocket (lower jacket or coat) or on the hall stand.

Mobile phone – pocket (upper jacket or coat), on hall stand, windowsill at work, on the piano charging or on bedside cabinet at night.

i.Pad 6 – under the bed.

Passport – pocket (jacket upper) or bedside cabinet.

Prehistoric shark's teeth – in shark's skull above fireplace.

Guitars – in cases upstairs or one (currently in use) downstairs on stand. 1 x Ex-Hendrix (white) Strat in garage.

Robert Burns unpublished works, papers and out-takes – Stationary cupboard, dining room.

Birth certificate – bedside cabinet.

Time machine – De Lorean in garage under tarpaulin.

Sawn-off shotgun – boot of car under spare tyre, cartridges in bathroom cupboard.

Inter-dimension keys – x-ray proof box under dining room floorboards.

Serum of eternal life – bathroom cabinet (next to the Ibuprofen).

Spare organs (fully serviceable) – bottom section of the kitchen freezer.

Spare organs (repairable) – Cryogenic Crypt #2, Roslyn.

Evidence of anti-Christ – Archive Crypt #2, Roslyn.

Photographs and transcripts of alien conversations (3 x copies) – Apple Macbook (downloads folder), safety deposit box in RBS Gogar and also at the rear of the secret cave.

Plectrums – dining room cupboard, bedside cabinet, acoustic guitar cases.

Heart of Robert the Bruce – wooden casket under hallway floorboards.

Cuff links – leather box by bedside.

Diamond as big as the Ritz – New Mexico.

Tins of Mackerel (in oil) – upper kitchen cupboard.

Swiss Army Knife – in hall stand.

Cat's prawns – top drawer of freezer.

Cat's luxury prawns – top drawer of freezer.

Batmobile (1965 model) – rear of garage.

Diary – briefcase, back section.

Spare keys – briefcase, rear pocket.

Da Vinci sketches (originals) – top shelf, dining room cupboard.

Da Vinci sketches (apprentice copies) – cardboard box, laundry cupboard.

Da Vinci sketches (modern copies c/w interpretation) – other cardboard box, laundry cupboard.

Belvita Breakfast Biscuit supply – lower (small) kitchen cupboard and left hand office drawer (bottom).

Cuppa Soup - left hand office drawer (top front).

I think that does it, there may of course be more bits and pieces out there but now that I've made up this list I'm pretty sure I've got the main things accounted for. I find that quite reassuring.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Who was Doreen Weston?

She said that she wanted to drive and I was in no mood to argue, I'd also supped three very decent brandies within the last three hours. It had been a long day, the negotiations had seemed never ending, I thought the deal was going to fail and then out of the blue we broke through and agreed terms and most importantly the right price. I was now the proud owner of Bentley Mullinier on a really good deal, al perfect except for the fact that though I might own it, it to for my wife, a birthday surprise, the colour, the trim, the model she had wanted. When she first mentioned Bentley I was surprised, I understood she was more than happy with the Range Rover and she seemed more than a little contemptuous about the Maserati (she probably couldn’t even spell it) and would hardly travel in it never mind drive it. The Bentley however seemed to tick all the necessary boxes. “It's such a statement,” she said, “it's elegant, it's strong, almost British and it eloquently tells everybody in the way or on the edge to politely fuck off.” That was her logic, her thinking and in many ways summed up her attitude to life in general. I was glad she wasn't here with us today.

It was my personal assistant Doreen who was driving, she was quiet and confident and knew me well enough to sense that this car, lovely as it was, was not for me and that my relationship with it would be like my relationship with my wife, troubled, strained and expensive. Doreen was a natural and enthusiastic driver, normally she drove a small BMW but took to the Bentley without any bother. She had been floating around all day and as was her way had paid attention to everything in the sales and technical presentation. I could have had the car delivered of course, I could have done many things but I like to take possession, it's what I do in business, in commerce and in love. There was like just one big exception of course, my lovely and headstrong wife. She was not one to be possessed, she was one to be orbited, pampered and fawned after; hence the ongoing conflict as I gave and gave and on brief and unspecified occasions took a little back.

Doreen let the car off the lead and sped onto the motorway, in a few seconds we were up to 80, smooth as silk, silent as a submarine, the bright lights pushing ahead on the nearly empty road, trucks and slower vehicles blurred behind in our swishing wake as we headed home. I pressed back in the passenger seat, closed my eyes, tasted a little of the brandy at the back of my tongue and let the warm travel fever paint a coral blue pattern across my subconscious, I stroked the hem of sleep, touched the frayed edge and drifted away. That's all I remember, that's all I recall, the blue Bentley haze and the comfort of the dreamless void. Then I wake up here. Here looks like the wrong side of a hospital bed, flat on my back looking up into the clinical lamps, beeping noises, a wide area of pain that should belong to nobody and those swirling motorway last minute lights.

I don't how long I drifted in that place, there were words and messages, ideas, questions, all of which eventually passed through that injured sieve that my mind had become. “He's well enough to talk.'” a voice said. “Mr Severin...James...I've something to tell you...I'm Chief Inspector David Lomax of the Thames Valley Police...your wife, Jennifer has been happened five days ago.” I felt a tremor like an earthquake, I felt my own sweat, I wanted to speak, I want to cry but all I did was freeze up, except for a tremble and spasm that threw my arms up behind my head pulling wires and tubes. “Mr Severin, I'm very sorry...but I need to ask you a number of questions.”

“OK,” I was talking, my voice came out compressed and small, like a man talking through a toilet roll tube with lips part sewn together, “I'm OK, I'll talk, I'm just not sure what I'm hearing you're saying things I don't understand.” Lomax spoke for a while, he explain that I'd been injured and that I'd been in a serious road accident, he explained that Jennifer had been involved in  the road accident too, killed instantly, it had all happened in fractions of seconds. Everything I was hearing seemed like me snippets from a bad and bizarre movie script, drowning me in a relentless water boarding of words and described events. Now I was choking, spluttering and coughing up contradictions and personal horrors in jagged technicolour recollections.

Lomax was standing at the foot of the bed, his face was grim and straight as an undertaker on the job. “Mr Severin, I need to present you with some facts about your wife's death and your injuries. On the evening of the 27th your wife was outside of your house, the family home. She was standing at the top of the drive way removing some shopping bags from the back of her Range Rover. You were approaching in a Bentley, apparently newly purchased by you on that same day. For no obvious reason the Bentley was being driven at high speed and collided with the rear of the parked Range Rover. Your wife Jennifer was killed instantly by the impact. You were found in the driver's seat of the Bentley, your passenger Doreen Weston was also killed instantly. We've looked at the evidence, the cars, the tyre marks on the driveway and at the CCTV images from your security system and I have to tell you that your direct actions appeared to have caused this terrible incident and the two fatalities. Is there anything you'd wish to say?”

Hidden in a lengthy footnote in the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead) in the “sidpa bardo” is a brief explanation of the transition and transformations a soul must make when death is closing in:

“Imagine that a swimming fish eats a fish and then that fish is eaten by another larger fish and then that same fish is eaten by yet another larger fish. How many fish are there? There is of course one, the one that has triumphed by natural process over those that were consumed but whilst those that were consumed may no longer swim themselves they are still as fish and their spirit ranges and travels looking for a place to rest. In the final transformation, in extreme situations of passion and pressure there may indeed be manifestations and movements between places and in bodies that seek to bring a final justice and judgement – to close out. This may make no sense to us as we are unable to see every fish that is in the pool and understand the complexity of their relationships as there are many fish each swimming at different levels. The eye can only see so much, those who travel in some final cycle may move sideways or backwards as well as forward.”

“No man is born with spiritual understanding, he must acquire this through special training and experience. It is good that such to all intents and purposes useless books exist. They are meant for those (queer) folk who no longer set much store in the uses, aims and meanings of present day civilisation.” - Carl Jung.

Friday, 9 March 2012

It's an awkward age

A wise woman once said...but then maybe is was all a kind of rough plagiarism.
1. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
2. Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
3. She was as unhappy as when someone puts your cake out in the rain, and all the sweet green icing flows down and then you lose the recipe, and on top of that you can't sing worth a damn.
4. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. travelling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
5. The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can
6. Her pants fit her like a glove, well, maybe more like a mitten, actually.
7. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
8. He was as tall as a 6′3″ tree.
9. The sunset displayed rich, spectacular hues like a .jpeg file at 10 percent cyan, 10 percent magenta, 60 percent yellow and 10 percent black.
10. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
11. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
12. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
13. The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.
14. He was lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either but like a duck that was really lame. One that had stood on a land mine or something.
15. He spoke with a wisdom that can only come from experience, like  a guy who went blind when he looked at  a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at conferences and schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Disloyal to the brand

The blind madness of an impulsive purchase, the blood soaked, brain zapped moment of insanity when reason escapes, chased by cats scattering furniture, ideas and artists who's work is still in progress (as above). My life is a long line, progression, process, parade and carnival of these things. Ill thought through and ill conceived then punctuated with odd segments of clarity, remorse, joy and fulfilment. I'm never quite sure the order in which these will arrive or how long they'll last. They move along quite nicely which I suppose is a good thing.

As you get older you get used to the world and then you get used to yourself. Some might say you grow into yourself, as if you were a deflated balloon of indeterminate shape  that needs 50 plus years of slow inflation before you can see the final shape. Then you stand a chance of knowing yourself. Anyway I bought a Volvo a few weeks ago, that was a strange experience. I still have the Cougar (waiting on all the paperwork), it's parked up but now signs are that the power steering's probably knackered.