Tuesday, 31 January 2012


He can be found with Bowie, stopping in Lynchland, or flying over West Baltimore in a helicopter with David Simon, and later, in his childhood bed, browsing for something comparable on Amazon. He can be found in a Skype lie, rising with the wirelessness, at a safe, forced distance; then in a bar, watching someone else's team score, feeling something. The morning after his last day at work, he found himself on the toilet, reading Wendy Cope, at whom, a little younger, he had been stupid enough to sneer. Not having to forgive this insult, the page saw through his features and into him. She read her poem upwards from his thighs, the decision for each new word absolutely clear:

I can't forgive you. Even if I could,
You wouldn't pardon me for seeing through you.
And yet I cannot cure myself of love
For what I thought you were before I knew you.

He chose the third person for his own amatuer catharsis, doubly faithful to uncontainable shame. Until now, he had associated autobiographical writing carried out in such a guise with the thrust of narcissism, never seeing through the smoke the possibility of this polar-opposite respiration, its floral inevitability. Despite wise frowns, there really are over-the-top scripts, cliches and implosions being lived through for unbearable, undisprovable reasons. Here, beaten like an egg, he is tapping hard his type, floating in a bowl. What he knows comes from pain or hope; from film roll, some strange comedians, rare throttling music; from his country and its trees, its sand and stone. The most difficult of all the relationships with knowledge was undoubtedly literature; books, emails, text messages, instruction manuals: the movements his eyes braved because of the page-paralysed words, and what might change because of them.

Some piece of him made an effort to stop being seen or listened to. He can be found at night in solitude, on the afternoon's village cricket square, under stars. Morsel of bat timber, a forgotten bail, one of his arms outstretched without the need for another's bones, shapes, body-kisses, skin. Not that they can be forgotten.

In July, when he took the single and had made a century, he raised his bat for her in the light wind of an open field. He was out a few balls later.

He looked at God from both sides, dipped in and out of pantheism, loved fragments of Greek myths, most of Shelley, the idea of Barcelona, Hollywood critiqued on the big screen. Had he any experience of these? They were dreams, attempts at honesty, that became passions. However privileged he was, or perhaps because he was privileged, he now found the sudden abolition of true love and the genocide of romantic memory impossibly slow and vivid this time, in some basement of Hell, the sewers below grief; even more of a challenge to survival than the fear of depression, failure or physical impairment. Suffering is determined by pace.
If we choose to die, we cannot return; all speed and volley of feeling would go to the morgue, wrist-banded extinct by the waking and sleeping, loving and hating, nurse. There are finer philosophies than Wordsworth on change. And people live through winter. There are good people, bad people and some, between, waiting around the corner. So long as there is oxygen, then there are sprints and drum rolls remaining in any tank. If we choose to die, we cannot return or come; we cannot bid farewell, sleep drunk, swallow water, dream.

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