I haven’t written in ages, over a month. A break was necessary. I’ve not had much to say, or much coherent thought. I’ve been managing the bookshop for over a month. The books, the shop, the physical aspects are all okay. The multiple departments, people and procedures are mentally exhausting. It has been a challenge, but I finish this weekend. It’s given me ideas for eventually setting up a place of my own though, similar to little Peter’s in Peckham. I’ll use the charity to gain all the experience I can. I went to Balham this morning, it was okay. The shop there has plentiful upstairs space, I believe. I could live in that part of South London one day, it seems alive. I went on the tube, for the first time in a long while. I didn’t enjoy it, too much pain. That stretch of the Morden-Edgware line used to be iconic, the only Underground Electric railway to penetrate the gravel substrata of the south. Stations stood prominently on corners, early Charles Holden illuminated towers, one after the other on that main road south. It feels less iconic now, just dirty, noisy, hot, crowded. Modern white tiles which gleam, but without characteristic glaze cracking.
I may stop writing now, for the moment. I need to write about a “new phase”, but first I have to relax my mind to give it a fair chance of beginning. I have no energy right now.
Later, the following Thursday. I’m letting the old loitering habits return, that’s how I write. Today is the last day of this indeterminate liminal state. Work resumes tomorrow, for a day. Change always unsettles me, and elements of tomorrow will be new and different. I may attempt to be aloof and detached from it. I don’t even want to talk about the pandemic, or hear any of those other words related to it. I think this may be the only time I’ve used the word in written form. ‘Liminal’ popped up earlier too. If people ask how I’ve used the time I’ll give expansive, enigmatic, yet light on fact, nebulous, ambiguous responses. I always think of Ben Cain when I think of ambiguity. He’s currently doing some text works, phrases painted on white boards, leaning on a railway bridge wall in Walthamstow. He’s an enigma.
I often think of people from that era, artists. I’d like to be more in touch with them. It is hard to make that happen though, situations have to grow organically, they can’t be manipulated too much. I find anxiety after a long period can get in the way, and make for awkwardness. Sometimes I think it’s better to just know those people are still there, somewhere. I’m still hibernating socially.
I’ve just read something on a soon-to-close online social platform, that I wrote a year ago, about how I’d been using the time wholesomely, writing, cycling, gardening, cooking, painting, thinking about psychogeography, thinking about the world, watching old films, and “seeing everything through a rose-tinted veil of existential absurdism”. (That could be a good title for something, this set of writings, even). It is a timely reminder of the need to retain contact with that inner me. I’ve become accustomed to that freedom to use my time, to be free from external influences to the extent that felt like the norm. I didn’t make much effort to create it, or if I did it wasn’t a difficult or disruptive change, quite the opposite. I also didn’t consider the need to be able to perpetuate it once those external factors start to insinuate themselves into my life again. Managing the bookshop took over all of my capacity for free thought. Close contact with emotionally needy people was intense and mentally draining. I had little energy left to think about or do anything else. These transitions between modes of living and thinking take more effort, energy and time than I’ve previously realised. I think in the past when I’ve uprooted and forced change upon myself I’ve gone into shellshocked self-preservation mode, but not identified that at the time, I’ve just made sure I function, expect when I chose not to function. I feel I’m learning to ride the waves of uncertainty and change now, keeping myself and my priorities intact. I tend to be more content spending time at home now, although I do go out every day to see that the world is still turning. I can enjoy the simplicity of hearing sounds outside, feeling fresh air and rain on the balcony, observing outside life through a mesh of wild flowers grown in tin buckets from bargain seeds from Sainsburys. It’s a bit like being in an open prison for crimes I don’t recall committing.
I’ve been reading about Xavier de Maistre, who, in 1790, was confined to his Turin apartment for 42 days following a duel, and wrote about journeys around the room as though they were epic expeditions. “Day 14, should reach the fireplace by dusk” etc. I’m sure there was a Monty Python piece based on this. I’m wondering now about the relevance of place to thought and meditation. Perhaps I’ve been based in my flat all this time and have hallucinated the rest. The memories of the repetitive days are all so similar they could be imaginary. The boundaries of time and memory have dissolved.
I haven’t had a working bicycle for quite a few weeks and so I haven’t been to the Thames Path. I miss it. The films taken there last year, which I’m still editing, feel distant and meaningless now. Shapes and sounds on a small laptop screen. Once I have a bicycle I’ll travel places and paste my words to the walls. I must watch Jean Luc Godard’s One Plus One, I think there are text on walls scenes in it.
I want to sort out the DVDs at the shop. I want to have the patience and concentration to watch a film. I have to choose what to wear tomorrow. I should go home, it’s noisy here.