Cahier d'un retour au pays natal bonnes feuilles
Londres, août 2006
Victoria Station via Oval - St James’s Park - South Bank Centre
Taming the telephone was an achievement in itself, whereupon it was decided: a meeting near old books in boxes. Thitherwards bound, two hours of stumbling the short distance, in regal greenery I faced down my feathered fear. How I watched with the tourists, learned delight from their younger ones’ delight. Oh their dying generations! Such fittingly noble carriage, such sad doomed eyes into which a philosopher might stare. Here among school children, water, bird-breath and uninfected muck, I was returned to myself, the multinational, multivisited city working its cure already.
However at the appointed time and the appointed place: disappointment. Nothing rings in me. Still I picked up a text that’s a result. It’ll be fine when you reach cloud nine. Georges Michael was late, but decent, sighing over servers and shandies, the old pearly queen. Strange subdued exchanges, demutualised language, I’m sure we still have stuff to say but Weighed-down words fall flat from the tongue and plop onto the floor. No Fordian curveballs, not even one of Monty’s googlies. Still there’s friendship that’s a result (whip off the bails umpire Hair).
Battersea Park – Notting Hill Gate – Shepherd's Bush – Hammersmith
The rain it raineth every day, then doth forswear. This town swims with parks and here’s one I never knew. Fighting-fit powerjogger pairings sweep past pluri-ethnic pluri-shaped loverbird pairings, which romance past clapped out and crumbling down mutual-aid pairings, and me, unpaired, impair, unimpaired, reading my text under the opening sky: Where's Tommy? ... He did a pee in the bushes. I helped him with his trousers. He fed the ducks. He liked the ducks. I expect he fell in. Best place for it, a park, I’d say. I remember seeing that on a stage once, in old bugger St.-John's drama soc production. A failure: too long, too rigid, stands (somewhat inclined) to reason. Only play I ever saw at King’s, principally for an erstwhile rival as "Cathy, Lin’s daughter, 5, played by a man". I hope they get to Edinburgh. Did they? Because I never did.
Still not headed there, but on towards a place was once a home, via a rotting hill, its sites of imagined roistering, its unimagined population, where one this time looked out to me yet My goal was a shoal, lay further: beyond the Royal Borough’s gated crescent-gardens, a wedge of Common-land. For passage from the one world to the next, a descent among shadows, conducted by a woolly psychopomp
flock -old friends- then up again into the light and the Green. Here was once a festival, and a black crop-headed girl on a stage. “People ask me why I have no hair,” she threw out defiantly, “It’s because I’m a rebel!” I could but concur. It's as if yesterday. But fifteen summers and winters change any shrub, and the Bush is no exception. The area has noticeably islamicised, but a library and church supply points of memorial reference amidst unrecalled halal butchers and international calling booths. And then it’s my own, old, broken-backed road, where richly I lived for £20 a week. But where in fact did I live? I’ve forgotten the number, but slowly a candidate detaches itself, and I stare, unsure what or even how to evoke. Past Present Future? Confounded, I wonder upon destinies.
South as a coda towards the twisting river’s side, past Victorian mansion flats upon whose composite red-brick facade, more collage than college, I used lovingly to marvel: disfigured today by emblems of useless nationalism, futile flags dripping at all corners, makes me angry. Down after this a Queen Caroline's street, adornèd with desolate estates, but equally of this Amelia House that once so upset my Good Buddy, that time he hauled up on my doorstep because in India his truth had abandoned him. Every name a story. An unpacked theory of accusatory descriptions.
Slowly I continue through the gloaming. Sparse lights flicker liquidly not a muted cry’s fall before me. Agreeable melancholic feeling of solitude. I too could fall in, disappear into the cold and the dark, but halt, poise, turn towards the lighted Ark.