Thursday, 12 March 2009
Recession and a death
The little town of W turns a touch more ghostly each week. Woolworths is shut, the Cross Keys Pub is shut, the expensive dress shop is shut, the flower shop is shut, the small fancy furniture shop up the street from us is shut, the riding wear-saddlery shop is shut. Town is emptier, quieter. There even seems to be less traffic.
And M the butcher is dead. P, the table tennis master, the master butcher, the proprietor of the shop, is there still, cheerful as ever, making ping-pong style hand movements when he sees me in the street. M, who looked a little dour at times but was friendly when you got into conversation, had been ill for many years. His heart had gone, his immune system had gone, then cancer pounced and got him. He was often in great pain, says P. I buy half a pound of mince from him. It is very good mince, far superior to that from the supermarket. C turns it into stuffed cabbage, wrapping the cabbage leaves around the mince, adding some hot paprika and a touch of cream on top. I daren't make a list of the dead we have known because all such lists are too long. And it would be a long list even without thinking so.
Next week I am in Newcastle the whole time delivering the three Bloodaxe Lectures and doing a reading. I shall have to think of what to do with my days. Rewrite the lectures? It is going to be a continuous temptation. They are written now. Titles?
1. Cold, dark, deep and absolutely clear
2. Life is Elsewhere
3. Flowing and Flown
They are not all exactly the same length, the third being the longest, but I can cut it and might do so tomorrow. In the meantime, translating, writing references, answering questionnaires, and trying to contact my internet provider which is impossible as they are engaged the whole day. Meanwhile son T, the international DJ, composer, producer, and occasional keyboard performer with The Bays, is just back from Croatia and is heading off to Kazakhstan tomorrow.
C and I go out for a walk by the river which is in frisky mood, not so much high as fast, silver-leaden coloured, twittering and snickering. Few ducks on it - there used to be a whole rabble of them. Rooks, collared doves, blackbirds. A big huddle of sheep. over the field. A kingfisher has been seen flitting across the river- C has seen it.
Past the back of the newish estate, children playing football. On the walk back another way, it's almost dusk. We cross over the railway bridge and see the lights on here and there. Just opposite us, a woman naked, wrapped in a towel, obviously fresh from the bath, is cooking in her kitchen. Upstairs we can see the light in the bathroom, the glass faintly steamed. Rear Window stuff. Thinking around a poem but not ready. Mind too much of a flitter.