Visit and Day Out

I was thinking of lunch when I saw Quentin approaching outside. He didn’t know I can’t let him in if he doesn’t buzz or to use the tradesman’s to let himself in at that time of the morning (if it was still that time.) It pleased me I was able to conjure up a vegetarian meal for us out of the fridge. I also offered brazil nuts for the selenium he won’t be getting from shellfish which I foolishly wasn’t myself eating on account of the high cholesterol until somebody pointed out prawns weren’t fat. Different cholesterol. I get overexcited by Quentin’s visits and if that’s excitement then the feeling on his publishing my short story, ‘Instance….’ isn’t – or is of a different kind.

He wants to do nothing, while realising he can’t, and I think he does mean nothing since he went on to say he’d come to that anyway with death. I queried what he meant by ‘death’ since I suspected, unlike me, he attached some sort of life to it as if he would be at least there to be aware of its nothingness. “How Buddhist,” I said. He also hates science, I mean actually hates it, with passion, because though all science is provisional conclusion eg a neutrino or some subatomic particle might now be going faster than light so theoretically one could go back in time (which, I can categorically state now is impossible since time is irreversible. By going infinitely fast, as spirit-informed thinking can, one can experience time’s stopping as I have; it can’t be reversed; infinitely is as fast as can be gone) but Quentin says though scientists affect provisionality in conclusions they are actually quite categorically totalitarian about whichever conclusion they’re now at.

John decided to come with me to Jean’s exhibition after a week’s thinking about it. I was tired and irritable, saying his taking heroin looked childish, not adult. He said he was giving it up and went into a huff but I wasn’t about to make a row and he soon started talking again. He went off first to put the money into Alan’s account for the drug helps him come off and I joined him at the bottom of the street. We took the train to Waterloo and line to Bank, on to Shadwell and Shoreditch for the Kingston University Arts display on Brick Lane.

Jean looked beautiful. I introduced John as my lover and she as my friend. She showed us her illustrated children’s book, which is excellent, her wall mounted display on it, and introduced us to her fellow-exhibiting friends. I took cards and such but warned from experience no publisher I knew was likely to use the givers. After Jean withdrew for assessment, we toured the rest of the exhibition, I entering a mock sauna powered by a bike. Kavin’s leaves strewn below his mount on illegal tree-logging stays in my mind. “You mean they’re not real?”

We strolled down Brick Lane where I’d been fifty years ago with Maggie, Tom McGrath and Maureen, having breakfast after an allnighter at four in the morning in a greasy spoon in the swinging sixties. “I thought you lot were being cleared away,” I remarked to a restaurant tout who probably thought I meant Moslems. “But others thought you added colour to the place,” also open to misinterpretation. John thought I would cause a riot and took a long time talking to the man. A convenient park off Whitechapel High Street was closed, being reconstituted for Ali Akbad or -dab or …somebody. “I’ve never heard of him.” We ate below a too-confined palm while a muezzin cried on the faithful. “What are you eating?” I was asked by a …backward man who found it easy therefore to be forward. “Mussels. Do you want one?” I offered from the end of my fork. “I’m Moslem,” he declined. “It’s shellfish,” I argued, “you must be able to eat shellfish.” He went on to suspect our relationship, offering the allay, “Are you his father?” It was John lied I was. “I can see the resemblance,” the simpleton said.

John said he’d been enthralled by the exhibition. It was the best day he’d ever had. “How!” “You’d have to know what the rest of my life was like.”


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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