Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Occasionally, I’d unfold a little leaf of information myself:

“Alexa’s had her friend I don’t like staying again in December –”, or,
“be quiet in the flat in January – Dimitrios’s not back in the till the end of the month–”, say.

But more typically, for stems our talk had small things like:

“So I was watching that chat show late last night, and”, or “for lunch, fancy –”, or “whatever happened to that guy from school –”.

And immediately, the big instant bloom would be something like:

“Ooh Adam could you hear me snoring through the ceiling I bet you could you know because after three glasses well alright maybe four I’m always off and I was sound off straight away as soon as down my old head went down and out like a light it went out and I slept ever so sound until guess who why yes of course Petal woke me snuggling against me at three in the morning it was snuggling and meowing and I was still snoring and there Petal was dribbling and purring and I hope I didn’t wake you or spoil your programme for you…”


“Not cheese, no, you’ve had enough cheese well you can have some cheese if you like I’ve got some of that nice Wensleydale left but you should watch your weight Adam you’ve put on a bit you know I saw it when you arrived home and cheese won’t help oh that red cheddar is delicious isn’t I was thinking of making cauliflower cheese for tonight you’d like that wouldn’t you course you would with potatoes they’re a bit fattening too not as much as cheese but so delicious and no don’t offer to help I don’t have you home often and how about some cheese for lunch now? You were going to suggest a salad, were you? With some nice feta? Well you can burn it all off in the New Year, back in London!”

Or – last one that doesn’t involve the plot of this entry, I promise –

“You know a new boy joined the top-set I teach English to last term and didn’t half remind me he had such a lovely smile really wide you could see all his teeth really just like yours although he’s a bit of tearaway only fourteen and got a girl pregnant already such a shame with such a smile and smart lad too just isn’t interested and no, I suppose he’s not really like you, but did I tell you that before, on the phone? I did did I O deary me O…”

Bored one late morning this Christmas holiday, trying not to picture cheese, whole cheese and nothing but cheese, as I lolled like a cat on the sofa, I quietly supposed such half-conversations of ours were like vase-flowers: fragments cut from abundant life elsewhere; fitting with the comfy furniture in the cloistered lounge; but going nowhere, half-dead even – dying in fact; in stagnant waters and misty glass, dying.

“Now,” my mother interrupted my muse, “I’ve brought you some nice cheddar, a bit of bread and pickle, some grapes and a cup of tea, and you’ll never guess who I spoke to the other day!

“No, not Elvis. Your kid cousin Thomas – well he’s not a kid anymore he’s 21 and he’s been through a bit of a rough patch one way and another but I won’t bore you with that but he’s a lovely lad reminds me of you in a way anyway I was talking to Thomas well his father your uncle you see and the thing is Thomas has decided to drop out of his Masters degree. It’s not that he’s not bright enough it’s just money I think or something anyway it wasn’t very clear – and he’s going to start looking for work in London and as Alexa has people to stay at yours and Dimitrios is away, I didn’t think you’d mind if–”

“He stays at mine?” I blurted. “Thomas? I haven’t seen him in years! And –”

“Well it’ll be a great opportunity then. He’ll be up on the 11th. Alexa won’t complain will she? Not with the number of times that friend of hers has stayed! Like you said. Anyway. It’ll only be for a week, or two. Or until Dimitrios is back, or – anyway. Until Thomas finds his feet.”

“As long as he doesn’t plant any roots.”

“It's only a short while and I'm sure he'll be as quiet as a mouse.”

“Makes me wish I had a cat.”

“Now, now, Adam. I’ll tell him that’s alright then, shall I? And I was thinking, I might come up one weekend – go to the theatre with you both perhaps and maybe lunch or dinner or perhaps…”

O well-arranged, predictable image of a vase, o orderly object, come back! All is forgiven! The disorderly family tree sways, reaches, grows; subject to such unpredictable weather.