Sunday, 13 February 2011

Clash Ology

The V format was really working for her. The desk ended in a V near the window. She could rest both her forearms on it. The screen was her window on the world. There was a crack in it just like any real window. And when she was tired of the world, she could look out the window at the block of flats across the street and count how many different colored doors there were or check the countdown on the BT many days until the 2012 Oympics.

She had spent years with the desk height at standing level so that her son would not pluck the rest of her keys off her laptop, drench the keyboard in window cleaner, or damage the only button on the tv. He liked the spray action. He liked the buttons that came off. Better than Lego.

Finally, it became a jumping off point. He'd climb up and jump off the counter. After the dislodging of a few teeth, John came and lowered it. A pity her favorite DIY man lived thousands of miles away. He arrived with drill bits and tubing in his suitcase. He was one of the few friends who took real pleasure in making her life more comfortable. He preferred hardware stores to museums. They did a lot of sight-seeing.

Kevin came sometimes too from up North....Walthamstow, not so far, but he had a child now which kept him busy. They had been close. "Jo, if either one of us find a partner, I  still want us to be friends....good friends. You're like my sister." The holiday had tested them. They had been to Barcelona together. It was always the first thing to do; dip your feet in the sea once you arrive. But no...He had to unpack his suitcase first. "We should really get in some provisions before the shops close. We don't know what time they open. We need milk for breakfast. We can see the sea tomorrow." She could not see the sea tomorrow. That was not her psychology.

She loved the sea. She had lived by the sea once in Naples. See Naples and die.
"I'm making a will."
"A will? Why?"
"Cos people die. Most people. Usually, they don't know anything about it. Someone just reminded me."
"Oh Jo. Look around first. I can get you a much better deal on a will. Let's make it together."

So the will monger never came by. She wanted John and Shilan to look after her child if anything happened. Her mother agreed. They were truly concerned. They lived in a city, and he was a city boy. "Do you like Rockford Ben? We could live here in a big house and drive a car instead of taking the bus. "
"It's alright, but there's nothing to do. There are no famous buildings. There are no banks. You can't get rich in a town with no banks." Ben had spoken.

Ben rode on Kevin's shoulders like a Maharaja on the way to the park. He'd come by on Wednesdays. They did family things on the weekends like visiting the Dr. Who exhibition.
"What are you doing in those shoes? You need walking shoes today. It's family day." Instant family day. He carried her son up a steep hill on the way to The Heath.
"No one ever did this for me when I was a kid," he'd say.
"Well put him down then." His over exertion seemed to be making up for something. You have to pace yourself when you have a child and spend the energy when its needed. Visiting a child is different.
"What would you like to do?"
"I'd like to go to the circus. That's the poster I was telling you about."
"You know, sometimes it feels like I have to pay admission to see you two."
They had shared a lot of  ice creams, but it spiraled into a sour sorbet. Admission? Did he know the price she paid? Perhaps he had been making up for his own childhood which was partially spent in foster care. He had never had a birthday party either.

There was a year or more of silence. His own daughter was over a year old now. He had not introduced his daughter to the woman whose son he had spent so much time with. It seemed lopsided. He had always  seemed a bit of a voyeur checking in on family life for the weekend then checking out when it was time to do laundry or clean the house. At least now he was getting the full experience. Somehow the stench of nappies had cleared the air. They were getting on better again.

Richard would come and read stories for Ben on the way to art openings. He sent out mass e-mails inviting hundreds of people to join in either for the free wine or to actually look at the long as they came. He'd bring a Marks and Spencers bag of treats and groceries. They'd have cups of tea and catch up on the news. Polite gossip. Richard never had a bad for anyone. He was articulate and just wanted everyone to get along and care about each other. People realised that once he died. He was sorely missed.

Certain parts of the city reminded her of Richard. Passing the Old Vic, she remembered a play they had seen and how Richard has said, "I had a long chat with him last week. Really nice guy. He puts everything into this theatre. He prefers it to Hollywood. True actor and down to earth. Perhaps we can chat with him again." Spacey was deep in conversation with a young actor. Richard surmised from a distance that this was not about the play. When they left, we moved to his table and sat in his chair which was still warm. "I have warmed my bum with the heat of Kevin Spacey's ass." We exchanged a few words as you do when you're taking someone's seat almost before they have got up from it.

A square in Mayfair. Isabella Rosellini was launching a book about her father's life. High ceilings, chandeliers and a sea of thousand pound designer dresses. Massive zips. Material thicker than curtains. Daringly off kilter, but somehow incredibly balanced. I had never seen these modern Cleopatras up close. I had only seen them in magazines as they were either lunching, sweating in the sauna, or shopping at stores that were by appointment only. It was one of the more private parties.

Ben played with the plush velvet cushions on the chaise rubbing his cheek against the fabric and touching at the dresses as they brushed by. He was only two or three. A trendy couple borrowed him for a photo shoot. They wanted their distant friends on Facebook to think they had a child. He had posed with Tracey Emin and Joanna Lumley...designer baby. He had been going to art openings since he was three weeks old. He was a regular on the circuit in his pushchair with his mother's wine glass in the handy bottle holder molded into the frame.

Despite all the dresses, Isabella was in a white suit made of sporty no-nonsense material. No heels. Not even office worker flats. Perhaps she had so many engagements, she needed running shoes to get from one event to the other. She was comfortable and her face was more angular and android than the mascara ads revealed. Somehow, I floated into her circle of four or five people. She smiled at me as if I had something intelligent to say. I had the sudden game show feeling of needing to phone a friend. Why we don't speak to celebrities.

"I really liked you in 'The Hunger'." I hated it. It was such a fan type thing to say.
"I wasn't in 'The Hunger'," she said. Her forehead creased ever so slightly as she scanned her memory. It was as if she had just tasted some wine she'd rather spit out, but there were no potted palms nearby.
I tried again, but I was only seeing Lancombe ads.
"I really liked you in..."The Unbearable Lightness of Being."
"I wasn't in that either." Isabella glanced around as if hoping to catch the eye of a security guard. Maybe I liked her better in the Lancombe ads than in the film. The film was really disturbing anyway. "Like" was not the correct verb for Blue Velvet.

Down at the Royal College of Art, Mick Jones was emptying his attic of memorabilia. Clash Covers and t-shirts. It was a buzzing crowd. I was taken by a man in a spectacular silk blue suit and dark glasses. He looked like Harvey Keitel in Blue Velvet...sans mask. I told him so. His friend spoke for him. It was a sudoku  type conversation.

"He's a bit of a scribbler."
"Oh? Scribbler...More pictures or words?"
"What kind of words?"
"Mick Jone's biography actually."
"Oh. So you have a PhD in Sex Pistology?" oh so're so clever...we're so clever now.

Two throats cleared at once....the writer and the man who spoke for the writer as he was not able to speak and smile at the same time.  This girl was on a drug they hadn't heard of. She had knocked them ever so slightly off their ever so pleased pedestals with her ever so blatant ignorance.

"I think I mean Clash....Clash---ologist. You know...Clash, Sex Pistols...same thing really."

It could have been a better conversation. It was as if she had interrupted their cozy moment in Smugville to inform them that they were not the center of her universe. They smuggled back into a huddle. If she had had a better compass, she would've known that they were True North.

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