Saturday, July 25, 2009

43 bus journey

Naath Laaandaan. Get the '43 winding around Tavistock Terrace, Alexandra Road - the automated lady voice seduces me with the sound of memory itself, smoothing the bus short and stopping before a tube station - a park with exercise bikes - a church fete dubbed 'feel good festival' - a shrubless scrubland ironically bearing the words 'Islington was in finals for Britain in Bloom'. The sign shines in earnest, seemingly unaware of its own self-ridicule, and I realise that this concrete cornucopia is the place that I call home.


A stinging spike like a burn in the back of the neck, no, in the back, like an icecream cone of steel in the stick of the spine.

It happened in the sea by the rockcombed beach. We were swimming with the moss tangled around our feet, stars of seaweed blossomed at the bottom of the sea or sky as we swam in circles around the grotesque, inflatable green crocodile. We'd bought it from a dusty shop nearby, selling tat & packed with French families.

I felt the sting in the small of the spine. It bit and the pain held on, like a furious lover's parting shot. I turned my hand to my back in an admonishing slap and found soft mollusc wobble...I screamed; the jellyfish inflated to a suffocating balloon, formed a suction around the patch of skin and pulled...

I shrieked and shoved. The jellyfish lump parted like that jumped-up lover leaving, through the briny ocean of memories. Gone. I swam back to what I knew with a lump in the small of my back, wounded by the whispers of the deep.


I sit here in the small of the back of London, crouched, tense in the hollow at the base of its Underground spine, only stopping through. In just twenty hours, I have seen the vivid, thorny green of my home: the wild garden, the grapes, the cream and the raspberries. Here I lived, living, live? Impossible to translate into present the beauty of the past: walking through Alisa's room is like walking through a ruin: it seems like relics, and it's difficult not to drift back in time. I come back home - home- home - and brim with love and sadness in the dark sweet night. Mum is writing a piece about lodgers, about the last great lodger - Alisa - like the great Roman ruler at the end of an empire. Soon she'll sell this place, and then we'll have to leave it behind, our great home, our great lives here. The photographer comes and we stand on the stairs, in her room, in the garden, and swap smiles that are so real . And so, in one big burst of love we reduce the moments of the past, the years, our house in Green Eggs And Ham to a few flat photographs. Yet we all live on; I joke that mum's stolen my novel, reduced my debut drama to some piece in the Home pages, but I'm secretly not afraid - there will be far more tales to tell along the way - in which Alis, Mum and Shaz will doubtless make quite a few appearances...


The green grey landscape, turquoise baths with golden Roman columns and silver rusty springs filling pools with antiquated coindrops of water, fountain money... outside the rain strikes like slim silver, threads silver steam so it's rising from the blue green pool like Time: eternally escaping...leaving only tiny water droplets, the residue of memory, in our palms.