Tuesday, February 23, 2010
ephemera 3, wall, sleep
A self-imposed rule is not to move any of the objects photographed in this series of ephemerae. I compose a picture based on what catches my eye. The plastic fork is there before I arrive and will remain, as long as the picture endures, straddling the grill, an oak leaf for companion.
In the process of building the dialogue of poems, which Lucy and I are maintaining on our Compasses blog, we share access to a document where we can consider at length each other's work before it is published. While commenting on Lucy's latest answer (still in draft), this morning, I am surprised and pleased to note that my words are being acknowledged as I type them. We are on the document site at the same time, a virtual tête à tête. It is a strange feeling, and I confess to becoming a little bashful at such an unexpected need for spontaneity. Above all it is the absence of a real presence that is a little disturbring.
What strikes me about the experience, a few minutes later, is how it chimes with the book I am reading at the moment - the first of the 20-book sequence of novels by Zola under the general label of Rougon-Maquart. In The Fortunes of Rougon, there is a charming variation on the Pyramus and Thisbe story. Here, a boy and girl meet regularly by the side of a well, which is the common property of neighbouring houses. The garden, where the well is sited, is divided by a high wall , which bestrides the well and, at the same time, allows access from either side. The young people, though hidden from each other by the wall, see their reflections in the water and when they speak to each other their voices are distorted by an echo and seem to be dissociated from their reflected images, as though their words are not entirely their own. I don't know about Lucy but, glad as I always am to hear from her, and glad as I am on this occasion, it is a relief to return to the email that I am about to send her. Holes in walls, real or ethereal, are no substitute for a proper talk, face to face.
The BBC South East headquarters is on the corner of a small enclosed precinct of shops called Great Hall opposite Tunbridge Wells Station. I am walking though the hall when, as I pass them, I see two men talking and hear one say in an unnaturally emphatic voice: " I don't sleep comfortably". I pass by quickly but just have time to note that the other man is holding a microphone in front of the first. What is the interview about? I am curious but not curious enough to return through the doors of Great Hall to eavesdrop, and worse to be seen to be eavesdropping. Upbringing can be the curse of the ambitious chronicler.