Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Siesta

They stood around by the vans, controlling a brazier, and the palms waved, soft black stars. His moustache stirred damply.

"But when you went back there - ?"

"Nothing."

She lifted the towel in its folds from the picnic bag, the prints of her dress in shadow. Her face came up to the child's stare, and softened.

"Come here, Pepe, you need a plate. Give us some food, Teresa. Don't these look good?"

There were tidemarks of salt on the olives. A lettuce flourished, it glistened with oil.

"..but I feel it, you know? I feel it!"

He turned to the chops piled high, and served himself, tumbling it down. The laughter ebbed and swept forward again with a football.

"If he'd come to me before, it might be different," he added with his mouth full.

"As if it was your decision," Teresa reproved him.

Rubber, a ring of metal, plastic moulded with a man's grip, another ring, leather... Pepe's eyes travelled down the bike.

"You're fond of him, aren't you? You get on well."

She nodded, busy with the picnic bag. PAÕ! went the ball off the side of the van.

"No! Enrique! - get over there!"

They flew like a dog-pack out beyond the palms, scrambling and slipping. BOUF! He sank onto his knees in agony, his palms pressing his midriff, his back a curve, his elbows out and his head butting the sand.

"Hey! - Oh-oh-oh! - Whoa!"

He was all right, though later he would notice the thorns in his knees. But he was humiliated by the laughter. He ran for Enrique and tripped him.




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Sitting inside, then going somewhere

The silence-gears rotated in glass.
I, too, without a mouth,
was etched leaping in the oval
of that silence!

But afterwards the twilight graininess,
a clump of grass and the empty streets
I clattered across like a bastard;
When it waves, that means it could speak.









Thursday, June 10, 2004

Diary of one winter

A winestain smudge, not swollen, it feels like I was lucky & all the metal splinters adhered to the flathead. After the screwdriver accident, discovered how much I used the pad of my right thumb: so much for pure consciousness.

Late Xmas decorations hanging beside the door-frame - soft cages.

Thin snow lay long in the cold. Intricacy of the dimpled patterns that form - every patch different. Like the winter branchwork of trees. (yet the snow is beneath biology, no genetic "character" to the patterning

snowdrops are white & green, the no-colours. They hold their heads.

****

Anyone prepared to confirm the statement of the "Fosse Way Magazine" gardening correspondent, that the timing of snowdrop blooms is connected with the date of the first full Moon after the winter solstice (aka the "Moon after Yule"), please drop me a line on m.peverett@ukonline.co.uk - In fact, anyone with real evidence for ANY flower whatever being affected by the moon...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

About Tilda and Sally

Tilda was the mother of my friend Sally. Her maiden name was Matilda Katarina Hogdin.

She was born in Hogdal, I don’t know if it was Över- or Ytterhogdal, on the 15th of May, 1877. Her mother was unmarried and had three children. Tilda was the youngest. She had a brother and a sister. Her mother was blind but the children lived with her. They lived in a single room or rather in a kitchen. Tilda slept in the same bed as her mother. One morning when Tilda woke up, her mother was dead. The home was broken up. The kommun dealt with the three children by means of auction. They went to whoever would take them for the least possible remuneration. The elder children, who could work and earn their keep, were a more attractive proposition than little Tilda, so the kommun had to pay more for her. She was six years old. There was an auction each year, and the price changed as they grew older. Tilda talked about the different places she was sent to. At one of them she felt so happy, and the people were so kind, that she prayed to God that she might be able to remain there, but they got such a little grant that they hadn’t the means to keep her, and she had to be moved on again. When she was eight years old she sat for one whole winter in front of a warm stove, and carded wool. She felt so pleased when a massive wodge of wool was nearly done, but the mistress would come along at once with another one. She did not set foot outdoors for that whole winter, just sat inside and carded wool. The older she grew the greater the demand for her. When she had finished her schooling, “read for the minister” and been confirmed, she was ready to look out for a maid’s situation and to support herself.

Anyway, Tilda was fortunate. She met a lad from Märviken whose name was Ola Olsson. He was twelve years older than she was. They got married in the same year Tilda turned 18. Then she had her first real home. Ola was very kind and clever. Tilda had her first child, a son, on Christmas Eve, 1895. He was christened Olov after his father. Tilda was overjoyed to have her own home, even if it was a small one, and a kind and understanding man, and her own little son, whom she loved more than anything. She cherished dreams of what he might become. She hoped he would be educated and learn a real trade. Time went by, and when Olov was twelve years old she gave birth to a daughter who was christened Sally. She was a welcome addition, especially being a girl. Ola was very fond of Sally and would sit her on his knee while he told stories for her, until she had grown so big that her feet touched the ground while she sat on his knee. When Sally was three or four, they bought a plot of land on the Ö (an island on the river), and Ola built a cottage. It was made of timber and divided into two parts: in the one half was a large kitchen, which was furnished with a settee with a seat-lid, a made-up pull-out bed, a table and chairs, a side-board and a sink fixed to the wall. In this room the family lived, four people. In the other were stalls for two cows. There was a thick wall between the rooms, and a little porch from which one door led into the kitchen and one into the cow-house. There was enough land for the two cows and for a potato-patch. A huge barn and a granary-loft stood there from before, since the plot was a portion of what had once been a larger farm.

Ola worked on joinery and building sometimes. Any spare hour from early morning to late at night you would hear his hammerblows coming from the large barn which was a good spot for timber and that sort of thing. In time he built a separate cow-house adjoined by a workshop with a stove where he could work in the warm. When this cow-house was finished, he started work on the old cottage. The space where the cows had been was made into a fine room known as the parlour. In due course there were also two rooms on the upper floor, and Sally got her own room.

Ola made everything with his own two hands. He never hired on any account. He financed everything by working in the woods each winter, floating the timber in spring, and assisting with various kinds of forestry work.

Tilda had found the best man there ever could be, and for the first time she had a home of her own where she could feel secure. Both Tilda and Ola had dreams of Sally learning a skill by which she could keep herself, so that she wouldn’t have to drudge as a maidservant. But it didn’t turn out the way they hoped. Sally was not healthy and with the years she became blind. They were very sorry about her lot.

Nevertheless Sally lived until she was 80. She lived in an old people’s home and later in a nursing home. She was completely blind and confined to a wheelchair. She had in her earliest youth acquired a boy-friend, Johan Nyström. He never abandoned her even though she was so handicapped. He came round to see her and was a support to her in her loneliness. He died just a few months after she did.

(Translated from a memoir by Berna Eriksson written around 1990. These memoirs are about life in a remote rural district of northern Sweden, due west of Sundsvall. MP)

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Monday, June 07, 2004

May morning

"What’s the height? We want them to be higher. We’re all quite tall.”

“They don’t make them any higher. It’s a standard height.”

“Oh - but that’s the whole thing. I want to get my chair under.”

“Sorry. 74 centimetres. It’s health and safety.”

“IT Support, can I help you?”

“But I’m not a standard height.”

“You could put it up on blocks, John. Like the missis.”

“See what I mean, the arms catch.”

“He’s with someone at the moment. Can anyone else help?”

“Why don’t you take the arms off?”

“I didn’t realise you could.”

“Yes, see - you just turn it over. They unscrew.”

“Just you go in from the back, John. Oh they’re a terrible lot down here.”

“Easy...!”

“Oo, I knew you’d be trouble!”

“It’s like being back in Amsterdam, eh Steff?”

“I suppose I don’t need arms.”

“That’s right. So what colour do you want - beech?”

“Yes, I like the sound of beech. That’s nice and light isn’t it.”

“Or there’s maple.”

“No he wants beech.”

“Nice to have the fucking choice but no, all right, beech it is.”

“Everyone’s got to have the same.”

“Or we can do grey.”

“Grey is what they have down in Logistics. Smart.”

“Well, I don’t know...”

“IT Support, good morning..... Yes, I fucking told you, they’re on my desk. Five minutes!....”

“Cold, though. Very cold.”

“We don’t want to have that steely hi-tech look. We have enough shit in here as it is. We like to have plants and things.”

“I think it is beech that they have up in Credit Control? Bloomin lovely it is.”

“We need to do a tour.”

“It shows you in the catalogue. Here, this’ll give you an idea.”

“Oh yeah, that’s the baby. That’s the one we want.”

“That’s beech.”

“It’s very light. We’ll have to stop throwing coffee around.”

“No problem. It just wipes off. They’re all wipeable.”








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