Saturday, March 07, 2009

Reinforce The Torn Places

Twenty-five years and they passed, like that. The next twenty-five years will, of course, also pass like that. It’s why he spends his days these days taking pictures of buildings, rather than people.

She said something about green issues which became the moment he stopped listening. Or stopped pretending to listen. No need for the nods and smiles now, no need for the frequent, but not obviously uniform, uh uhs. Green issues she said and he felt something biting.

The photograph in the silver frame, edged with complications of tendrils, showed at least the last time he could stand to look at himself. It helped that it was dusk, that he was partially covered by a tilting umbrella, that the taker of the photograph hadn’t kept the camera still. It had, he fancied, a slight touch of the Doisneau about it.

Terror ripped through the dorm room. Eighteen eighteen-year-old girls, without their nightdresses, dancing in panic. If he had only switched the light on.

She said something else about green issues, the environment and even, almost unbelievably, about saving the planet. This from a woman who had, as far as he could tell, no previous inclinations towards anything remotely altruistic. But, of course, it had nothing to do with altruism and everything to do with her. He had noticed this in others, too. It was something of a trend.

He photographed local politicians for a book he was writing or, rather, putting together. They sat, most of them, with an absence of feeling or force. He worked hard with the lighting. He took many shots in the hope of capturing something.

The headmistress used the word pandemonium. Never in all her career. The girls, she said, were genuinely frightened.

And sometimes when I’m alone, she said, when the kids are at school and my husband is at work, I weep over the fate of our planet. I do. I really do.

There was a pavilion. An old boating lake in a kind of art deco style. Great slabs of concrete with a tint, or hint, of yellow. Early frost and just the right amount of moisture. The sun rose and bounced off everything it should have bounced off. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Except for the twat with the boats and his fat mental son.

Doisneau my arse.

It bothers him perhaps more than it should. What was it? The lack of thought? The infantile posturing? The grandstanding? The easily adopted superiority? The sheer twattiness of it all? The sheer middle-classness of it all? You wouldn’t have time to make yourself worry about all of this, he said, if you had something genuine to worry about. Or even a job.

This idiot he knew, from years back, had recently contacted him to alert him to the fact of his, the idiot’s, recent questioning by police after his, the idiot’s, female friend made allegations about stalking and text messaging and all sorts of other nonsense. The idiot was once a friend, some years back, but had been discarded for being a nauseating, bed-wetting, self-pitying, self-aggrandising dickwad of a man. The last time they spoke, oh many years ago, he used the word dickwad to describe the idiot. And even then it seemed somehow lacking. Cunt would have been better, more appropriate.

He spends whole afternoons checking out, as the vernacular has it, his competitors’ online portfolios. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that gets on there.

He put the coffee on the table and listened as the boy in the pantry took ice cubes out of the tray. The headmistress emerged from the library, closing the door calmly behind her, her scalp and thinning hair all too apparent beneath the harsh hallway light. I think you should leave, she said, the girls don’t trust you any more, we’ll find someone else who can do the job.

It was surely no coincidence that the idiot from his past, who had, it turned out, been stalking an old mutual friend of theirs, shared the same green issue type views as the woman he now recalled, dimly, from somewhere in the less distant past. He remembered nothing about how she looked and nothing about how she was in bed except that when he came, he made a point, for some forgotten reason, of ejaculating on to her thigh. It was somehow a comment on all the green bollocks. The satisfaction came from the mild look of disappointment that crossed her face.


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