Saturday 4 November 2017

Fireworks, from August to November

Spark. Flame. Fire. Sparkle. Hiss. Bang. Rocket. Up they go, and mark another summer’s end. They used to be such an occasion, as we all decamped to the steep, down-from-the-boys’-school hill opposite the Quarry to watch the show from an un-ticketed spot (all the while watching out for sleeping cows).

Now it is November. I am so-called-teaching late into the night, staring into the blue-light laptop screen, when suddenly the familiar hissing shoots of sound puncture the quiet evening. We are analysing a passage by George Orwell, midway through, discussing in detail the vivacity of the condemned man. I pull up the annoyingly-always-on-the-verge-of-breaking blind and allow myself to be distracted by the intermittently sizzling lights reflected on the window-panes. I explain the noise away, as we continue our slow deconstruction of every sentence, semi-colon, clause.

In the British Library. Coffee with soya milk and three email tabs open. Picking through old folders and come across an old dream narrative about fireworks. It’s very bad indeed, but I like the serendipity of it, beginning and ending with fireworks. ‘Fireworks. I’m prisoner and guard. The fireworks are in my honour…’ My dreamscapes (so-called) often start like this one, with weird statement-y statements which stretch the sentences as each paragraph develops. I need to learn to prune and chop.

My London house has started hosting salons, where we read or show something creative. We’ve only had one so far, but the quality of everyone else’s writing put me to shame. Particularly when I come across scrawls like this one, written half-asleep, with no attention to grammar or sense or logic. I’ll have to start writing again (anything that isn’t another email or lesson plan, please!!) to have something to show at the next meeting. In the meantime, here is a topical if terrible remnant of an old dream. I’ll come back sooner this time – I feel like this place should be a good remedy for children-induced madness. (An anguished, screaming toddler is dragged past my table as I write these words. Oddly appropriate.)


Fireworks. I’m prisoner and guard. The fireworks are in my honour and at my own expense. Each little explosion is mirrored on the globed eyes of the observers and observed. Here it works that way: we encompass juxtapositions and antitheses in one body, or perhaps one mind. Such distinctions hardly seem to matter.
I lean upon a shoulder that is also mine, warmth swelling around our mass, as if to each other we are a comfort, these two lonely bodies without distinction. Perhaps in some way we’re hoping that through grammatical aspiration we can materialise, realise, give matter to this plurality.
Equipped with only four corners, the prison is a modest one: a rectangular box with a large glass wall, on which sporadic fireworks are reflected to muted acknowledgment.
Conversation develops in one corner.
‘I created all this for you, even from within this prison’s walls,’ I say.
‘You shouldn’t talk to me,’ I say. ‘You shouldn’t tell me these things.’
‘I can’t keep them from you either,’ I say.
‘But everything you say is empty,’ I say. ‘Your words mean nothing.’
‘Then why have they made you sad?’ I say.
‘Because you look at me as if I’m something unknowable,’ I say. ‘How don’t you see that everything I know, you also know, and everything I say is something you have always been planning to say but never could?’
‘Because I am your prisoner and you are my guard,’ I say.
‘Why are you here?’ I say. ‘Why are you a prisoner?’
‘Because I foresaw that something might happen,’ I say.
‘And, perhaps,’ I say, ‘because you dreamed of making it come about.’
‘And now I comfort you,’ I say.
‘In my imprisonment,’ I say. ‘Though still –’
‘– nothing has happened,’ I say.
 ‘Maybe this is all that needed to happen,’ I say.
I watch the proceedings, and feel the rush of warmth again. I am beginning to understand something and someone, even if that one remains only myself.
The fireworks continue to rain their fiery showers on the glass, and on our watching eyes.


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