Tuesday, February 10, 2009


“On arrival, the station is a rickety wooden platform with only just enough space to teeter on. Here I am tuned to the infinite silence of reflection and from this vantage point I keep a precarious watch over the tracks. The melody from “Black Cats on the Satin Greaseway” tickles the inside of my skull but there is a deafening silence out there, in both directions. Two foot worn steps had carried me up a good three feet to where I am now.”

“El mundo siguió girando, cada cual a lo suyo.”

“Around here there is no-one, no features, no landscape, no wind, no temperature, nothing. Here there is no cover from behind which some satyr might possibly camouflage an approach. It happens that I know that somewhere near here stands the old house. I always find myself there but never know how or why and you can never be certain of its structure, unrelieved and unsupported as it is by shadows or definite perspective. The only shadows that can be cast are cast by closing my eyelids.”

Peter Johnson, Bug Eyed Peter, blinks once or twice, slowly.

“It was at this house, try as I might, that I failed in my attempts to decode instructions proffered by the youngest daughter in urgent tones. Instructions, I gathered, because her hands moved in such a way as to illustrate urgency. But I was agitated due to the train’s imminent arrival or departure, agitated over the exact timetable. A carriage was in the station, but no childlike memory of a steam train, and the timetable was a complete blank and time was shortening the gaps between acts for me backstage. Problem was I couldn’t understand a word. Them all babbling away, all at once, and the frail old carriage, deserted, never seemed to entirely cease its shimmering movement. I can’t get a handhold to pull myself aboard and the girl, her insistent chatter burning up my time, unnerving me, she cuts down my ration of possibilities and I can’t switch off her words, or mine, come to that....” And Peter was sweating.

A running man wearing what, at this distance, looks like a black leather trilby style hat, causes turbulence in the sharp misty air, distant sirens, an echo of a bell, a ghostly fire engine chases a white police car and seconds stretch into an eternity, and Johnson was just about to switch off his words when....

“¿Hay sombras en el cielo?” Whispers Alba. “Aquí puede que sólo sirvan para acunar árboles torcidos o para dar solidez a alguna estructura, sin embargo estropean nuestra simetría, así que nos obligan a agitar los brazos y a retorcer los torsos en una inútil búsqueda de equilibrio. ¿Tenemos que sufrir estos malditos sátiros que deforman cada mirada inocente? ¿Incluso ahí arriba? ¡Momento de pánico y, a pesar de todo, podemos tenerlos ahí estirándonos de la manga mientras caminamos por las calles, en cualquier momento, con los vientos más fuertes y sin caernos! ¡Pareciera que somos tan deformes que ni siquiera lo advertimos!”

“Heaven is here and now, this is it, all you’ve got, all you'll ever get, here and now, shadows and satyrs and all the fairy tales included!” Advises, with a knowing smile, a wise looking white haired man with a walking-stick, hat in hand, out wandering with his dog. “Up there....” and he tilts his head a slightly twisted angle skyward, “....is in here....” and, as he passes, he salutes us with a touch of a bony finger to his forehead.

“Where’d he materialise from for heaven's sake?....Have I really, really just asked that? Turn off the words, please....” and then suddenly Peter turns, paralysed for an instant, to look for the security of some familiar presence, but the girl has vanished.

Somewhere else another stone skips out into the ocean.

“Alba’s house is on no splendid avenue. I can’t distinguish between eight thirty and three, the timetable is all empty space. I’m worried sweaty sick about the train and there’s too much babble, too much sabotage backstage. Where is the train? I must leave soon. I’m agitated about the train. Turn off the words, please. How did I find myself so alone aboard this desolate carriage?”

“Y así su sátiro, un demonio familiar, le dio caza. Alguna que otra gota de sudor frío importunaba su ceño fruncido y una sensación de vacío cae, pesada como el plomo, hasta el fondo de mi estómago cuando veo a las sombras agarrar a Peter de la manga y sus ojos cristalizarse. Así que visualicé su deformidad en algún lugar indefinido del azul de los bastidores, deformidad a la que aún se le puede seguir la pista en el tiempo, en las líneas más rectas, a lo largo de las vías. Debió parecerle una buena idea por aquel entonces, pero tanta soledad no podía ser sino algo temporal. Fue un tiempo en el que tan sólo un roce habría atravesado momentáneamente el vacío, un lenguaje completo liberado para dar colorido a la mediocridad. Las sombras condenan al mirón, al ojo errante, al ojo escrutador a ser un satélite del placer y del dolor, obligado para siempre a mirar hacia atrás, a concentrarse en todos esos movimientos más allá de su campo de visión, sus ojos alerta, eternos guardianes de la puerta. Así que la sentencia está aprobada.” Narrates Alba offstage, on off.

A third stone skips out into the ocean and the running man in the long black overcoat disturbs the peaceful mist and the fire engine chases the police car.

“Everything is so cluttered, there’s so much debris and the plaster is stained with a cold sweat. Once upon a time the plants needed watering. The truth is it’s bleak here while that wall, over there, which sweats rusty moss, is so high and so vicious broken glass at the top that I can’t see in any other direction. There is no horizon. Please, you couldn’t lend me a helping hand to scale these heights, could you? Could you stretch out a hand to me, take my hand....?”

It is all so well illuminated, this barrier, this wall, these angles, that the shadows become intimate with the reflections projected on the ground. Shadows and reflections dance with dainty foot over these polished pathways, washed by the night time rain.

A young girl, a pretty girl, blue green eyes, skin so beautifully, transparently pale, with a nineteen sixties fringe of shiny light brown hair, wisps before and over her ears and a pony tail right at the back of her head strolls a short distance away, on the other side of the chain-link fence, behind the wall, and at once everything smells like hospitals.

“Jeer then!” Peter shouts, and then searches the void for me, but I was no longer at his side. “From where she’s standing you can see and hear nothing. Anyway, she doesn’t want to look, refuses to listen. See? Hey, can’t you see?”

“Una noche me pareció ser capaz de saltar tanto el muro como la alambrada. Probablemente había bebido demasiado y no sentí el golpe. Cansada y conmovida, me alejé de allí. Fue después de este incidente cuando se produjo el encuentro accidental de nuestros ojos, un encuentro que marcó ese lugar como nuestro lugar, para siempre.”

And exactly as Alba finishes “para siempre”, somewhere a fourth stone arcs out to skip across the Atlantic. And the fire engine chases the police car in four minute trips. The lights of the merry-go-round sparkle beyond the trees, a crown of jewels. Notes of “La Dama Desnuda” float by on the breeze and The king turns his head to where, in daylight, two autumnal leaves will soon be flying defiantly on the morning wind.

“¡Peter, Peter! ¡Mírame Peter! Los sueños no suceden necesariamente en negro y el negro no es necesariamente el velo de la miseria....”

Somewhere a fifth stone dances out toward the ocean. Atlantic Ocean songs of sirens and bells play. Unseen children shout. Unseen dogs bark. In these final frames, a little girl passes by (a brace flashes white light through her little girl laugh) skipping with her shadow on the wet pavement, and then suddenly she turns, paralysed for an instant, to look for the security of some familiar presence.

Sirens and bells, and little yellow red and green and blue fires and the train chases the fire engine chases the police car motorbike and ambulance. The spotlight colours turn to illuminate litter blown into a delicate, touching ballet, offered in honour of those who might walk around one of the curves in the pathways through the trees in the park down there. Peter and I take a bow from the edge of this rickety wooden platform.

“El mundo siguió girando, cada cual a lo suyo. Sólo existe una verdadera decisión fundamental en nuestras vidas, una vez tomada pasamos el resto de nuestra existencia conviviendo con ella, ya olvidada, y no importa lo que hagamos ya sólo queda una única historia que contar y el mundo sigue girando, cada cual a lo suyo, y en algún lugar lejano una piedra salta al ras de la superficie del océano y en algún otro lugar, en un raquítico andén, unos brazos se agitan y un torso se retuerce en busca de equilibrio mientras por aquí pasa un coche blanco, las luces de los frenos, rubíes para nuestros anillos y los faros de otro, diamantes para nuestros ojos. En los charcos de luz, en los charcos de color, en las sombras y entre los árboles aparecemos y desaparecemos, a nuestro antojo, juntos, perfectos.”

The design of the CD “INTERVIEW WITH BEAUTY” was commissioned from the artist David F. Brandon. The photographic portrait of Alba Johnson was taken by him and the "Atlantic Song" picture is my work.

Bashir "Blue" Sherpa.

No comments: