Eighteen: a humanist sans

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

It was a day like today, really warm, when everybody is out of doors, happy to be lying around. Jim had something going. A little project that involved making posters for concerts that would never happen, and record sleeves for records that never existed. He had got up at around six am. Sprung out of bed as if the thought of sleep scared him. The sun was coming directly against the wall just beside his bed. There was a picture of Echo And The Bunnymen. It was very quiet apart from that.

He didn’t wonder what would happen today. He was going to make things happen. He felt like his enthusiasm would rip his heart out of his chest. He worked himself up into a state of excitement. The possibilities of the day were endless. He has nineteen and limber, and the sun sparkled through his tea as it splashed into the cup.

He lined up his various papers and packed them into his bag. He sat at his desk at the window and arrayed his athletes’ breakfast in front of him. He listened to Radio Four for a bit, and then he set to work with his blunted pencil and rub down transfers. He kept what he was trying to say in a straight line by using the edge forged Matriculation Card. As far as the University authorities knew, his name was Arthur Cooke.

Pretty soon, with all pressing matters blissfully set aside, he fell into a reverie the type of which could go on all day if you let it. He fladly let it because it echoed a dream he had once had, and dreams were as close as he ever got to matters spiritual. He had known a girl once who had a tent. They talked about going camping into the country one summer. He was fond of the girl and he was fond of her friend both. Her friend was nice and though studied architecture in another city was around often enough to be in on their plan. When they were around Jim often looked straight at his boots and wondered at the gifts the girls had for their various brainny pursuits. He was a bit ashamed. He was older than them, but was a bit of a flop in the brain department. His reverie involved the tent, the dusk, the smell of hot trainers and not much else. He never managed to the country with them.

At another table, a girl stared solemnly into her cup. He wished he could’ve taken her picture. But then he was afraid that he might steal the moment away from her.

Sebastian met Isabelle outside the Hillhead Underground Station, in Glasgow. Belle harassed Sebastian, but it was lucky for him that she did. She was very nice and funny, and sang very sweetly. Sebastian was not to know this, however. Sebastian was melancholy.

He had placed an advert in the local supermarket. He was looking for musicians. Belle saw him do it. That’s why she wanted to meet him. She marched straight up to him unannounced and said, “Hey you!” She asked him to teach her to play the guitar. Sebastian doubted he could teach her anything, but he admired her energy, so he said yes.

Lazy Line Painter Jane prayed for an inspiration that would lift her above the mundanity of midday on a Thursday. She was in a hole, sat with egg and chips, watching buses through the plate glass and easy radio of some old cafe. She was too bashful to pray outright in the cafe, so she pretended to read her fortune at the bottom of her tea cup, and she got what she wanted that way.

The inspiration came along quite soon. It was lucky for her. It had seemed impossible, for her to feel ok, considering the trouble she was in. It seemed impossible, considering the gloominess of that lunchtime.

Jane had never managed to build Thursday into the weekend like some other people did. She didn’t look forward to the weekend anyway. The only good thing about the weekend was that it ushered in the following week. She was a slave to the working week. But she was unemployed.

She was doubtful whether she even deserved her Thursday gift. She had done a lot of swearing and shouting during her period. She almost felt guilty to take up the baton and run. But run she did. Straight to the cathedral graveyard. She took her idea straight through the cathedral graves and out, over the wall at the other end. She found herself in the East End of the city.

She took the inspiration and ran. It filled her like a playground balloon. Now she wasn’t treading on any toes. Jane’s agenda was clear. She just felt like running. To forget her joblessness and her hopelessness. Stripped of her present care, her skin was translucent, and she travelled fast and light over grass and stone precincts. She ran past lines of traffic into quiet streets where her breath and fast steps were the only sound she could hear. Stripped of her present care. And her guilt at being lazy.

Jane pretended she was making indie-rock videos as she tore through the East End. She thought herself quite magnificent, and caused only two minor disturbences as she went. She stopped running when she reached the river.

That was lovely. Reaching the river. A sudden wilderness of wasteland and trees. She may have been a bit worried if it wasn’t for the oxygen pumping in her head, acting like a drug. There was a path, dancing with industrial mayflys, constructed with an air of municipal grants. She followed it, ducking under flyovers, flying over traveller’s caravans. She ran past long curves of ash and alder. She ran until she flopped down in a bus shelter. The rain came on. She had run out of rock video fodder.

She waited in the bus shelter for a while. She had reached the main street of a town that was not part of the city at all. She had reached the provinces, and as such, the youth of the town flirted and taunted with an unaffected provincial air. Casuals drank QC. They put on a show for her, but they never challenged her directly. She was grateful they didn’t pick on her strangeness. Her inspiration had flagged, and she didn’t know how she could handle them by herself.

They went away, to be replaced by the town’s thinking girl’s talent. He smoked a regal cigarette, and paced around a little. Jane couldn’t decide if he was waiting for a bus, or if he had just come out because the rain had stopped. But she liked the sound his segs made on the wet pavement. And she admired him for his quiff. It was the biggest quiff that small town beatings would allow for. He sat down in the shelter. He obliged her by staring at her boots, and rubbing his forhead feverishly. He sat for the length of his cigarette and then went off, leaving Painter Jane alone.

She drank up the peace because she knew that she would be back in her house by fall of night. In the city, a dozen things would be vying for her attention simultaneously. She thought it was around six, but in fact it was nearer nine. She pulled her knees close to her chest. Her jogging bottoms smelled of pollen. She waited for the bus to take her back to the city. As she waited, she thought about how she had got her name, and what she was going to do about it.