Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Independent

After I take a shit, I think I might go out for a smoke in the light rain, so I flash my pass to security and next the revolving doors have my quieter brain clunking. A policeman, tilting a rifle, is checking for something under his car - kittens they used to tell my friend in Northern Ireland - when Peter Hitchens walks past and I remember how on my iPod, in my pocket, his name sometimes falls across the screen (if only a torch had a fragrance!) on the buses where I escape to that famous debate. And in this moment I want to take it up with him, everything, and try to defend his brother's title without whom my own words are even less firm. But I don't have the fortitude. I tell Samantha, who is on the phone and is interested in how my day is going, I have to go, I have to go, and I can't help myself. I do a shopworn performance for Mr Hitchens. 

Peter Hitchens: Hi

Intern: Hi, I just want to say I'm a big fan of your writing. (This is partially a lie.)

Peter Hitchens: Thank you, sorry I didn't catch your name?

*Intern says a name and tells Hitchens he is on a placement at The Independent.

Peter Hitchens: Well don't tell them you were talking to me then!

Intern: Well, Happy christmas and a Merry new year. And the best of luck to your brother also. (This I mean and, though I fucked up with Happy and Merry, I feel alarmingly tall just getting the words out.)

Peter Hitchens: Thank you, I appreciate that. Good luck. (This might be his turn at dishonesty: After all I'm standing there, damaging my lungs, speaking dull word after wrong word, and my name has already been forgotten.)

Peter Hitchens walks away in an important coat, and as he turns the corner of Derry Street and wrings into the invisibility of High Street Kensington, I recognise a smallness: About my hands, my ability. In spite of my excitement, a fictional writer writes me some nonfiction: You have been a third hand on a plain clock. Now fuck off and face the marble wall

The next afternoon, the editor of the Sport is outside, beside me, which should start a far more important dialogue. It is an opportunity as opposed to a surprise. But I always preferred surprises to opportunities.

He lights a manually rolled brown cigarette. He notices the same polieceman, and the arms that are impossible to bid farewell to. Terror is on everyone's agenda. It is a singular agenda. It wants to drown a plural intelligence. The editor of the Sport, running his fingers over his lips, then blowing over his ordinary, Arsenal mug of tea, says he will put my name in the paper. I forget about anything else for ten minutes.

Now it is January and on my last day I'm awfully hungover. I text Sean on whose squalid balcony, open to London city, I had stood in the spectacularly early morning reading the scorecard for the final Ashes Test through a window. Cricket is a childhood event, and for this reason it has to be taken very seriously.

I'm spying on Film & Music bods. I translate my stale reflection in the brilliant water cooler, into an idea. I will go home and whatever happens I have to blog about my experience at The Independent and what it means to me and how the future's mask is a fat, sweating, plastic face. What the future holds is in trouble. Then I sit back down, do a task, mull over a boringness.

Where you have to return to is the bookshelf. (As with a bathroom light, or the kitchen drawer in whose darkness the cutlery doesn't glint.) I have read many essays and works of fiction about narcissism.

How absolutely unremarkable this is - my little name, a talking centimetre, used to wrap fish and chips in. No, this is where the work is done: here. This entry is for the reader whose name is also a little unlarge; whom I don't have to love, but want to; who follows despite impatience. Thank you. Merry New Year.

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