By mark p
Alan pulled the blinds back and looked down at the empty street below.
Six -ten in the morning and the road outside was traffic free, not even the swishing sound of the early bus passing broke the silence , this was dead eerie, the words spectral morning popped into his head unbidden, a song or album title from years ago?, He would Google it later. He thought a lot these days, that was the trouble when you had nobody to talk to. Today’s ‘View from the Garret’ was just like a scene from the sci-fi dystopia novels he enjoyed when he was a younger man , he felt like the last man on earth , maybe like Richard Neville , the character in the book ‘I am Legend’ , the only thing was there were no vampires outside, there was just the virus, or at least the impending threat of the virus-the Coronavirus.
Wasn’t Corona the name of a beer, he thought to himself, not a beer he had ever liked, but then beer was fast becoming something from another life, a bit like pubs, theatres, nightclubs, the life before the Coronavirus. Life BC, like they used to say in the old days, years BC, meaning ‘Before Christ’ rather than ‘Before Corona’.
He had always joked with his friends about his flat being a garret, it was a small place right enough, with just enough room for all his clutter, books, records, CDs, and living space, something that had become more important now. He had once thought it decadent living in a garret, like he imagined a poet in olden times might have, someone like Thomas Chatterton, or Edgar Allan Poe, some of those guys from olden times who died young through alcohol or drug abuse.
Now it was his refuge, a bolthole, a cave, a man cave, he supposed.
A few years before, Alan had written a blog every week and shared it up on Facebook , to great reviews from friends real and virtual, ‘Tales from the Garret’ he had called it, reporting , as he saw it, from his place of residence; it was basically like a newspaper column in one of the better Sunday newspapers; views , reviews and ruminations on the past week laced with a sense of humour of course. A sense of humour, you had to have one of those, didn’t you? Especially now.
The reality of ‘The Garret’ was here, and he was going to do something creative with his lockdown time, maybe write a novel, diary or collection of poems. That was the plan anyway, it was all about keeping going and not feeling down about this predicament, we were, to paraphrase a former prime minister, ‘all in this together’.
Alan was on day five now, ‘Day five in the Garret’, he said to himself in his faux Newcastle accent, ‘Alan is in the Garret, sitting at his computer on Facebook again’.
Alan wasn’t on Facebook though, he was writing his novel, his fictional biography, charting important events in his life with thinly veiled versions of friends and enemies in his prose, which read well, even though he said so himself. He called himself ‘Mark’ in the novel and had started off when ‘Mark’ received his exam results in Fourth Year at secondary school. This was back in the late 1970’s, and Mark tended to speak in clichés, maybe Alan did too, he had never really listened to himself speak. Mark used lots of catchphrases, and Alan was using this to humorous effect, while keeping Mark as a believable three-dimensional character. Like Alan, Mark was a big music fan and would be writer, and liberally spread musical song quotes into his fiction, as if he were spreading jam on toast, or something as cliched.
Alan laughed out loud as he typed the story , where Mark was playing a cd by REM , the song being ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It ( I Feel Fine) , he described the rapid fire delivery of nonsensical lyrics backed by a poppy punk guitar sound, that was the sound of how Alan felt with the world he was in today , a weird , mad world. Alan had seen REM in concert, back in the 1980s when they were a new band still to make it on the world stage.
A long time ago, ‘back in the day’, as Mark would say.
Alan wondered if he would be able to say ‘back in the day’ when reminiscing about the year 2020.
He would write that into a story with Mark voicing his opinions.
For now, he would write the story of Mark’s earlier life, maybe Mark was a rubbish name though, perhaps Gary might be better, they were from the same era, the 1960s, when Alan was born. There were lots of boys in his school called Gary, Mark and Alan, so what the hell, they were names of the era. Somewhere in the mix, he had to include the word ‘unprecedented’, that was a word that had been overused lately, maybe he could use it too.