oh, well, whatever . . .

an attempt to do without a sky

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Yesterday was Whit Monday. Or at least it used to be. The Day of the Holy Spirit, the day after Whitsun, now best known to some of us because it reminds us of a poem by Philip Larkin. It’s the spring holiday, a big day in the Retail Park calendar. I’m not sure that many people choose to marry at this time of the year now.

It was sunny and dry, although there was quite a strong north easterly wind. It felt cold. I went out walking, down along the harbour and up the river to Kitty Brewster and through Bebside. I made my way back by the Plessey wagonway track. The usual shirt-sleeved gaggle of chirpy locals was standing outside smoking at door of the Willow Tree.

When I got home I went out into the back garden and cut back the laurel. Big fat flower buds have suddenly appeared on the flag irises, one of my very favourite flowers. The French lavender is beginning to flower too and the lilies are stretching a little higher each day.  Golden yellow buds are swelling all over the climbing rose and the tight little reddened nodules of the honeysuckle tell me the garden will soon be full of its swooning scent.  Summer is all but here now.

I went back into the conservatory. Margaret was reading. A pair of fluffy maroon mules sat on the coffee table beside her. I should have bought the chicken wire when I had the chance.  I went through to the living room and put on the Decemberists and stared for a while at the painting of Rowhope I’ve been working on since I was sick a couple of months ago. I’ve slowly taken a lot of the yellow out of it, yellow being in my mind the most sickly colour. The painting is unusual for me in that it has no sky. My paintings depend upon their skies most of the time. The painting of Rowhope is an attempt to do without a sky. I also want it to look as much like a map as a representation of the scene, although not more so. That’s tricky, I found. The painting has some good angles and pleasing lines and it’s certainly a lot less nauseating than it was. Perhaps it’s time I let it go.

In the early evening Hugo and Mrs Hugo came home. He unloaded some spiked railings from his van. A little while later I heard him drilling the walls outside. He was installing CCTV. The loss of the swing has obviously made him more insecure than I’d first imagined. Hugo’s world is being fortified. Sometimes you can’t help thinking that even a little affluence is dangerous in a world where needs are constructed by spending. When money is burning a hole in your pocket it’s easy to imagine there are dragons in the world that only shopping will slay. Before too long I imagine Hugo will have battlements and a drawbridge – just as soon as Argos get their stocks in. And why not? He can afford them, the Daily Mail says he needs them, and they will make his property thoroughly modern and highly desirable even in a difficult housing market. This is the future. Electric fences, gun turrets, guard dogs, searchlights and sirens, laser trip wires, beartraps among the lupins, landmines among the gladioli. This will be the ordinary life of the ordinary aspirational man.

When I came in tonight I glanced up at Hugo’s cameras. He has two and they seem to be positioned to ensure they cover not only his whole front garden but the footpath in the street too. In fact I would guess that he has wide angle lenses and that our garden path also appears on his monitors. I wanted to give him a nervous little wave. I wondered if under the Data Protection legislation I had the right to ask him for copies of any video recordings of me. It’s a little disconcerting to think that Hugo will know all my comings and goings. He’ll know if I’m on foot. He’ll know if I’m carrying my old umbrella. He’ll know if I’m wearing a red woolly hat. But I guess this is a price worth paying if it ensures that never again is a broken blue swing purloined by a kid in a polyester suitlet.

The Crane Wife is a fine album, at times quite overwhelming.


Written by yammering

May 27, 2008 at 6:01 pm

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