1. What can be said

What can be said about who and what cannot be, still. I’m hoping for this to be more like a bumping into things than any kind of license for as long as it lasts. Palliative. Spectacle. I see/I think/I hear etc. is no validation. Permissions haven’t changed. As in I AM ILL therefore I see/I think/I hear isn’t any more or less valid than before then. If this is a palliative, a self-help, it is because of something to do with a direct address. I know who is being spoken to, and why. And why we’re equally fictionalised. Precision blanks. And if this is it, well, this is it, then it is because it is too late to write novels. Or to care that much. Or at least to face that question about what should be cared about; if that question can/cannot be seen now, maybe better. Does it matter? What matters

it struck, is/was a scramble for narrative which of course does not exist because just as you think you found it, it slips between your fingers, like other things, like health, which is why we look for it and write something down at a point in time when we think or thought we’d found it, but really we’re writing when it’s lost. Stupid lies are not without purpose. Nothing here is really the truth. There is not narrative. It isn’t there/here is information [run into each other]. It is something to do.

If I see another single magpie I’ll have to wring its neck. Last weekend in Regent’s Park we actually had to get up from a bench to physically remove ourselves from being stalked around by one. It was like a joke. How fucking absurd to have to get up cumbersome and walk away from a fucking bird, twit-peck-pecking. It didn’t even twitch as we moved. Two come, but only ever briefly. One predominates. I could count the number of ones I’ve seen as a string, a total within an allowance of intervals, a one plus one plus one etc., a cumulative line. Stupid. Over the boating lake seagulls squawked and squawked. I felt closer to those birds than to any passer-by speaking with words, hung open, gobnumb. Stumbling upon someone I know with a friend on a bench, behind a tree, masked by a few leaves, thin flapped, I said I was OK and forgot as I went to blow a kiss and walk away as I usually would that the back of the hand that I was raising to my lips was still stuck with a thick white pad of gauze and tape from where they’d taken out the canula that morning. I blew the kisses anyway, two or three, I thought sharply. Eyes flinched, stuck in throats, not spoke, rung.

Back in Dagenham and at the doctors’ to register so that a district nurse who ends up being called Mary can come to teach me how to inject myself with one prepacked syringe a day for nine days of a medicine that speeds up the recovery from the chemo. Menagerie of old people, mainly women, we thought there for flu jabs but nonetheless all with feet problems. One called through to the surgery as one is delivered in a wheelchair. Mo gets up, but slowly, she’s heard where she’s meant to go, last on the left. “Nuffink wrong wiv yor ears is there Mo” – receptionist from behind the desk. It’s all a bit truck-stop dark pine, half-partitioned finger-printed glass with nowhere to lean on so everyone reaches over and helps themselves to wotever. Mo – “No, it’s my feet that are the problem, I’ve come for a transplant” [cackles] and she’s just edging now from her seat and she is wearing thick-soled Nike sneakers which are dirty but don’t seem to be touching the plastic flooring as she’s stood. And the one in the wheelchair is a foghorn, delivered and left by dial-a-ride mid-receptionist counter, honkering: “Where’s he gunna dump me; Oh, don’t; Story of my life; No” [bellow cackle]. Her voice is like a horn that comes from the tubes of her swollen ankles; she’s manoeuvring backwards, “I can push myself backwards,” [laughing hysterically like she’s wind-whipped on a Waltzer] pushing herself with one of the tubelegs because the wheelchair has small wheels not big ones you could work with your hands. “I know I’m loud; they say I’m loud,” [she’s really loud, hollering a pure, massive volume with absolutely no effort] “apparently they can hear me all the way upstairs they say.” “Oh no; Oh, don’t; Story of my life.” She’s an ocean liner. There’s general raucous. Gallows humour. You’ve got to hand it to them, they obliterate. They don’t mind where they are and frankly this is impressive.


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