By Parson Thru
I wrote you a diatribe about my lack of talent, but I’ve realised that life is life- we are what we are. C’est la vie. Why kick myself?
The middle-class wunderkind left the apartment today, but not without trashing a major fixture of the room he was in and walking away shrugging his shoulders. Half-heartedly offered something but somehow left without giving anything, like he did when he snapped a string on my brand new guitar four weeks ago. Sometimes prejudice is a healthy reaction. It helps prevent you repeating your mistakes.
I often feel very English, but the more English people I encounter here, the less English I feel. Maybe it’s the Irish part of me. Would that it qualified me for Irish nationality.
I was thinking about the Tom Stoppard play “Arcadia” this week, one night when I couldn’t sleep (it’s been an awful week for sleep). I saw it at the Tobacco Factory theatre in Bristol a few years ago. It was floating round in my darkened mind in the early hours.
The idea: that the world – the universe – is a beautiful thing. It has to be. Despite everything around us insisting the contrary, the world has to be a beautiful thing. It just does. Life – this existence – has to be beautiful. How can it be anything else? Magic numbers, magic words, structures, imagined into life – though they pre-exist imagination. The beauty of the universe brought into the realm of human lives and imagination. How can it not be beautiful?
Taking a bus along the Burgos road this week, heading back into Madrid from teaching an early morning lesson, I saw a lorry – a cement-mixer. Affixed to its rear was a maker’s-plate. It read “Frumar” or something similar. Immediately, I thought of Frome – the town in Somerset where, nine or ten years ago, I drove a lorry delivering timber to retail stores. Suddenly, I was a very long way from Frome, from the hours I spent in the lorry-cab and from that life. Oh, how the time passes. I’m fifty-four. Where will I be in ten more years?
One a.m. Saturday morning. Let’s call it Friday night. I don’t want to lose Friday so easily. I finished watching Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”. The DVD was lent to me by my intercambio, but already she’s more than that. A lucky introduction. How ironic that she lent me this film to watch. Ironic? Or the most natural thing in the world? People. Relationships. How we function. The shared experience of life, for those who are receptive.
In my half-sleep, I visualised – no, hallucinated – a contagion of bloody red pus seeping through the muddy walls of my psyche. A good contagion, a bad contagion, a troubling contagion, a contagion of truth. Allen’s message. Marta’s message. A universal truth. I am an island – I make myself so, yet I am dependent upon other islands like my own. There it is.
Am I paranoid? Or do I just worry that I might be?
Sometimes, I feel an overwhelming urge to weep for the world, for myself, for the people that I know and for everyone I will never meet who is suffering somewhere. We are all one, and yet in these times all we can see is difference. All we care about is ourselves. We are not saints (saints? a bankrupt system) but we have the faculty of caring. Who sets brother against brother and sister against sister? To what end? The ridiculously trivial concentration of matter upon which all life exists is more fragile than I can bear. It is host to the living and the dead of all epochs, known and unknown and, yet, in the vastness it is nothing.
Spain, for all its bull motifs and machismo, has a gentle kernel to its soul. I am drawn to this. Swiftness to passion is Exhibit A of its sensitivity and the thinness of its walls. It is the antithesis of what truly galls me. Beneath the much-maligned image of patronage and graft (which lives and breathes) lies a basic decency towards fellow human beings, missing these last years in more northerly latitudes (maybe always). Cultures deify their thieves upon silvered walls, but few deny it more than in those northern climes, yet it is the seed of the dream. Shakespeare nailed it. Not only do they not betray their hand, they disown the cards they hold. A most accomplished deceit.
The worst deceit of all: denial that the fruit of Heaven lives within this bloody pulp. Collateral damage.