Friday, September 21, 2007

On the end and the beginning

I got dumped last night. I'm not sure whether I was expecting it or not, but I certainly didn't enjoy it when it happened, over the phone. I felt shocked and upset, humiliated and sad. I went to the pub for pints of solace, and smoked marlboro menthols to remind myself that I am still me, whatever happens. I threw the bracelet he had given me away. I contemplated sending a vituperative text. I wondered darkly if it was because I wasn't pretty enough, or because I don't have tits as big as Jordan's. I deleted his number, his texts, his voicemails, his photos. I did not cry, but I wanted to.

When I woke up this morning though, somehow, it felt like Christmas morning. The change of rhythm, the different-ness, the slightly giddy sense of the new, added an uncanny sparkle to a morning which found me without him, but with a new chance to get a happy take on myself.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Shoreham air show

I'd just started drinking a pint of Spitfire at Shoreham air show in the moments before the Hurricane crashed, killing its pilot. In between the third and fourth sips, a little girl who was sitting in front of me, comfortably nestled between her parents, turned round and spoke to me. With the messy beginnings of a FAB all around her mouth, she announced "I'm eating a lolly; it's got sprinkles on it", before turning back to watch the planes in the sky.

The Hurricane came down vertically, and a plume of black smoke billowed up. There was a shocked hush, and then people turned to each other to ask if what they thought had just happened had really happened. A police van set off across the concrete, followed by an ambulance.

"These things happen" someone said.

And we are obliged to notice, and to know, and to go on thinking about what we saw.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On photos

There's a tiny little photography shop in Hove that I walk past most days - the kind of shop that has faded Kodak posters on the walls, and displays of mid-priced cameras in the window. The other day when I was walking past, I saw a teenage girl standing just outside, examining a set of passport photos she had had taken. She was leaning forward, and her long black wavy hair was shielding her face, as she looked down at the quadruplicate of pictures. I was struck by the nervous way she peered at herself, as if looking for something, some feeling, that this face belonged to the person she knew herself to be. Since everyone started to transfer over to digital cameras, there are inevitably less scenes like this outside photo developers - engrossed patrons flipping open the paper wallets of snaps in the doorway, oblivious to everything else momentarily, leafing through to see if there are any good ones, or to check out their double chins. I suppose seeing yourself from the outside is always interesting, and it's not something you stop wondering about. We look at the bits of ourselves we can accept, and worry about the parts of reality we'd rather not know. The teenage girl looked like a language student, but she was on her own and seemed somehow vulnerable in that moment, all imperfections repeated four times over like an error in a document rolling through a photocopier. Be it a genetic or inherited slip, or an unpredictable arrangement of features, it only is and isn't us after all; what we really are cannot be photographed, although character can certainly be transmitted through expression and gesture. But you can never be sure. Photographs are mysterious, fraught, and intriguing, all at once.