oh, well, whatever . . .

the dark dust of summer

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Galloway was grand.

Things change so quickly at this time of the year. While I was away the climbing rose has become an unruly in your face splatter of ragged golden blossoms. The foxgloves are at least six inches taller than they were when I left, their spires all beginning to unbutton now in whites and pinky-purples with lovely speckled gapes. The catmint is a higgledy-piggledy drunken sprawl of blue stalks. And the flag irises have all flowered, a cluster of sirens in diaphanous hoods of watery blue, each one as pale as a jackdaw’s eye. They remind me somehow of the Breton women in Gauguin’s paintings. They have that same shy allure but without the blackness.

Hugo has painted silver the spear-like tip of each black railing along his garden wall. I couldn’t see any new flotsam in his front garden. His security cameras stare resolutely at the street. The Alligator still lies where it has lain since time immemorial, and looks no different than it ever did. This is not to say no change has occurred, of course. Some changes are subtle and almost imperceptible in the absence of a running record to document the process, be it transformation or decay.

The Citadel is truly massive now, and is extending not only vertically but horizontally too. It must now be more than two hundred metres from one end to the other, expanding like a giant red crab in a series of huge extensions, each one mitred into the preceding one in an obtuse articulation, as if this monster will soon enclose us all in its dark embrace. It looks down on us anonymously, like the stadium at a race course, or perhaps like the vacant tiers of an amphitheatre. It dominates us already and already it is clear that it will literally blot out the sun for much of our street. The roofline of the Citadel will be our new horizon. Although our house will be less affected than some, I estimate that for the greater part of the year the sun will now set at least several minutes earlier than it did before because of the irresistible shadow falling across us. And in the summer months I estimate we will lose the sun from our conservatory perhaps forty-five minutes or an hour earlier than we have done in previous years. The Citadel will make our days shorter and take away our evening sunshine.  Griff obviously doesn’t much care that we will now end our days in the dark shadow of this grotesque monument to his self-importance. And nor does Gordon. The so called modernisers care little for the sun, except as something else they can steal from us with one hand and sell back to us with the other.

I picked up De Kooning and together we surveyed the new landscape. Hugo was in his garden doing something to his pond.

‘What’s Hugo doing to his pond?’ I said to Margaret.

‘Who’s Hugo?’ she replied.

‘It’s Fletch,’ I replied.

‘Why did you call him Hugo,’ Margaret said. ‘It’s not his name.’

‘Yes, I know that,’ I explained. ‘But from the way he looks I thought it ought to be.’

Margaret rolled her eyes.  She told me that the man known to some of us as Hugo but more correctly referred to as Fletch was cleaning his pond. While I was away it seems all his carp have died. He doesn’t know why, but Margaret is fairly sure it’s because of contamination of the pond water with dust from the Citadel.  She may well be right, of course, although Griff said the hypothesis was simply ridiculous when Geraldine rang him. The Citizens have a sample of the polluted pond, however, and are determined to get it analysed by an expert to prove that Citadel Dust is to blame. And as Margaret says, if Citadel Dust can kill perfectly healthy fish just imagine what it might do to us. The same thing, of course.  Obviously a brand new slogan is ready to be born: Citadel Dust Kills.

As the pond cleaning machine whirred away Hugo sat on an old kitchen chair, the moose standing at his right side. A scene from Ragnarok crossed my mind.

‘How was Galloway?’ Margaret asked.

‘Oh,’  I replied. ‘ Galloway was grand.’

‘That’s good,’ she said. ‘By the way, we’ll be having the Slipper Shop launch party next Sunday. People will be arriving at about two and we’re expecting it to go on till about six or so. Perhaps you can arrange to go walking during those hours.’

‘I’m sure I can, yes,’ I replied.

‘Oh, and before you say anything, yes, I’ve changed the clocks. It’s on Brenda’s advice, in the light of the coming launch party. She feels that we need maximum equilibrium and has suggested the new time on the basis of Feng Shui principles. She feels that this will be the most propitious time we could possibly have.’

‘That’s fine with me,’ I said. ‘No problem.’

I hadn’t actually noticed that the clocks had been changed. I glanced at the Cuckoo in the kitchen. We now have twenty three clocks all saying quarter to three. It will take me a little while to see if I prefer propitious equilibrium to the spiritual optimism of the previous time. But if it sells slippers I guess it would be churlish of me to care much either way.

It was a sunny afternoon, but Margaret told me that generally the week had been rather cool and that there’d been rain at times. I told her that the weather in Galloway had really been much better than that.


Written by yammering

June 7, 2008 at 11:02 pm

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