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169 pages, Paperback
First published March 23, 2017
I completely lost it (the plot - not the glasses, they're only mislaid) about two weeks ago around the same time as a mislaid you. If you were here you would make a filthy joke about my use of that word, about you being miss laid.And she recalls how on their very first date, she was asked what was her favourite letter, although when she asks the reverse question she receives the reply:
I have swept so many words under my tongue and out of the porches of my ear, out of sight and out of mind. Over the years your ears must have become spoked and fairly bristling with my Xs and Ks and Ts and teasing.
'I consider favourite letters to be a better indicator of personality than star signs' you had said, and I had thought, oh great, this person's a massive weirdo and is going to try to inculcate me into a reiki-practising cheese-cloth wearing bewhiskered cult or sect, because I use words like inculcate without thinking twice even though I knew at the time that it was unadvised. Inadvised. But by God you were charming, said the other half of my brain. Cult leaders often are, replied the first half. GO ATROPHY ON A STALK, said the second half and it did, I think. Thank goodness. You had evaded my question, I couldn't help but notice.Now, on her own she goes through her own mental alphabet, including:
A is a snapped Eiffel Tower. The shape of it. If you were interested in A as a letter I'd assume that you were only interested in half-finishing projects, you said.
The letter P is cuckoo-spit on the length of a chive, cooling in the dew dawn. Q is a monocle discarded. We always had time for eccentricity - we watched a battered VHS of My Fair Lady and drama whenever a word game presented itself. R is a thrown magnifying glass, embedded in a wall.In "Synaesthete, Would Like To Meet", the narrator suffers from Neurological Synaesthesia. Wikipedia defines it as "a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway" but the story defines it more eloquently as:
Dawn's light through my curtain stinks, my cup of tea is an orchestra tuning up and the sound of birdsong outside my window tastes of rosewater and is scalding."Alight at the Next" has the narrator attempting to leave a train with her partner, only to find a man committing one of the deadly sins of commuting, perhaps 2nd only to standing on the left, namely entering the carriage before passengers have alighted, and she finds herself, against her usual behaviour, confronting him:
Pick up any paperback that uses too many mixed metaphors and that is my day-to-day, with all attempts at clarity squandered by confusing, muddled leaps of imagery.
and I make a boiled sound, because I am the first to admit that my spirit animal is probably a buttered roll, that I create characters and situations where I am brave for the same reasons some people love the stuffing of caught birds. Pigeons get caught on the carriages sometimes: I’ve seen it, Oyster in my pocket, spring in my steptoes. I forget, sometimes, what preclude and nascent mean. It has been a long day for everybody, even for pigeons, and it is forgetfulness that makes me brave to the sound of this gamelan of joists and hot-steamed-grit-zoom pulling into stations, braver than before, when the pre-you afternoon got jumbled with you-evening at rush hour, where throats squirmed with the old smoke and stream of tunnels: a world pinstriped by eyelashes, uproarious with the need for a Friday, downroarius with lost cards –"chords that have the obtuse delicacy of a dove retching" - what a wonderful image!
there are earphones trailing from this man’s neck and they squeak
with chords that have the obtuse delicacy of a dove retching –
the thought of you unscrews my head
and if you record the rip of glacier through ice and modulate its frequency it sounds of whale-song, and we often have cause to think of glaciers and their place and pace on the District Line –