Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Night Before


It is late and the woman and her child pause at the fence to look at the sky. They are far from any roads, houses or cars so there is nothing but the light that emanates from burning stars and the moon in the sky. A wall of cloud rolls in, but soon dissipates, revealing many shooting stars streaking across the big deep blue. ‘shoo’en staa’ the child says. “Yes” the mother says, “shooting stars. Remember to make a wish.”


I am about to cross the road by Preston circus when I notice, on the other side of the pelican crossing, two men, one with beard one without, otherwise with the same colour and style hair, stood next to each other, definitely not together (one arrived just after the other) but wearing the exact niche outfit of white trousers, blue t-shirt, beige jacket. Matching colours and styles just stood there, waiting to cross the road as if nothing strange were going on. Desperately I look around for someone to share this moment with but the only other person crossing the road is a strange man talking angrily to his dog.


They wrap themselves in their beds in the winter, blankets on top, pyjamas underneath, with glasses of water on their bedside tables, and they set their alarms or don’t if they have nothing to wake up for, and they say “g’night” and they turn the light out and they roll over, and pretend to be asleep, eyes closed, still, warm, and they think about sleep and about dreaming and eventually it happens to them.


He is scruffy, unshaven, but not outrightly ‘punk’ looking. He has worn the same thing for days on end, shabby, rag ended and mush coloured. He is poor, but at the same time has made a conscious shift away from any fashion or trend. He is watching the band, Subhumans, whose anarchist lyrics depressingly tell as much about the current societal situation as when they were written nearly forty years ago. But he is also watching the crowd; the old punks, who wear their outfits almost like a uniform, like they are obliged to don their tartan trousers and leather jacket with a perfectly sprayed band logo on the back, and spike their mohawks or reverse mohawks or dye their hair orange. Punk’s not dead, but the pointless, pub-rocky, day-glo punk of the early seventies means nothing to him. The bands on stage have probably written memoirs and their history has been academically chronicled as part of an era. Eras merge into one, so there is as little point insisting on the present as there is wallowing in the past. There’s a lot to sing about, and a lot of new sounds to make.


I get up with her early, and make us coffee. I make our breakfasts and a cheese sandwhich for her lunch. It’s 6:56am when we eat. I sit around browsing the internet while she gets ready in the bathroom. Still dark outside. I have nowhere to be but she needs a ride to work. We head to the car; it’s freezing. Radio on- another crash on the M5, more delays. Commuters grumble without thinking about the true horror of the crash victims beyond their own invconvenience. I drop her off in Bath, and the sun rises over frosty fields as I drive back. I can see my breath in the car. Radio off.


“A paycheck ago I was a paycheck away from this!” She’s not really drunk, but holding the bottle and just pretending was just as good, kept you babbling, smiling, warm. All the houses on the street are dark, everyone gone to bed. The streetlights are on, asides from the one nearest to her, which is broken. Above her stretches the red brick arch, heavy with ivy and moss. Framed below the arch and above terraced housing stretching into the distance, she sees the moon, and raises her bottle to it. “a paycheck… like a big pizza pie…” She stops her babbling, and lowers the bottle, really looking at the moon, looking into the night sky at the moon. “There you are.”


No comments:

Post a Comment