Friday, April 27, 2012
portrait old boys tract
Abstract drawing in which I am become increasingly interested, is more difficult than one imagines. This isn't a drawing, though it could be. It is a photograph of a pattern that has appears on one of the panels beneath the parapet of the road bridge next to the station. The stanchions which form the panels are like frames and the space between them are blank canvases on which weather, graffiti and pollution interact to create their art.
In the bar of The Bloggers Retreat (usually empty) when I arrive, five old boys are sitting with pints of Kingfisher in front of them. They all wear the same tie with obliquely angled stripes between which there is some sort of insignia. They happen to be comparing their ties which though of the same design appear to be of different vintages. They, on the other hand, are of the same vintage. They are in their seventies, a vintage with which I can readily identify. For the most part they wear blazers and flannel trousers, though one is wearing a somewhat seedy suit - a suit which I surmise is not worn regularly. Lorenzo da Ponte for whom I am waiting arrives at more or less the same time as a sixth old boy. Though part of the reunion the newcomer is not wearing the same tie. Lorenzo, of the same vintage, is unimpressed by their dress which doesn't tally with his idea of establishment figures. Or are they just tidily shabby in the way that English people like to be as they grow older? We soon lose interest in them however. There is metal more attractive about which to talk.
In the train a woman sits opposite me. She has a tablet computer with her to which she quickly refers before producing a copy of the British Medical Journal. It is a publication which I have never read. Now I know why. As she leafs through it, my eye comes to rest on the front cover. Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, says the headline. There are other topics which rouse my curiosity.
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It seemed to be a day of strange groups of men. On the train back, four or five Welshman hed assembled, all rotund, fortyish, some if not all wearing black suits. There was a certain provincial childishness about them which should have been attractive but wasn't. They talked with hollow enthusiasm about nothing at all. One of them started to intone a familiar song, breaking off to laugh (but without conviction) at each feeble joke it contained. Another point that set them aside from the rest of the people in this packed carriage is that none of them used a mobile phone during the journey. Sadly this wasn't a sufficient gesture to gain admittance to the human race.
I mentioned this group to Mrs LdP when I got home and she started to speculate about their provenance. Eventually she concluded they'd been to a funeral in London. I said they seemed to be in a happy state of mind (Funerals don't preclude this, she said), they were not drunk, they were full of themselves about having been to London and - rather more remarkable - they regarded being on a train as a genuine event.
They were strangely and continuously irritating.
I mentioned the Retreat's old men to Heidi. Army, she suggested. But they were not tidy enough to have been professional solders. Distractions already admited prevented further scrutiny.
What was interesting was that I recognised them of being in the same age group as me, as dogs recognise other dogs of the same breed.
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