Friday, April 22, 2016

April Decals

I had just come out of the post office in Farnham and was starting to walk along the pavement when something struck me hard on the back of the legs. I aspirated a somewhat retrained “What the hell?”, made two smarting leaps, whilst my arms like a gyroscope attempted to keep the box I was carrying stable and its contents protected.

Turning round, I realised that I had been twatted by a mobility scooter. The old man in the seat, having now come to a stop, raised his hand. The skin that covered his palm and fingers was shiny, the wrist thin under the wilting sleeve of a tweed jacket. I set the box down on a window ledge and asked him, “Are you OK?” He gave no reply and instead just whirred past me.

I recognised him as the man who used to live in the Tin House, who for years had tended land that tended to flood. He is known by the moniker “Milk”. When his wife died 15 years ago he refused to let the authorities take the body away.

Starting from the age of 14 years, in an effort to iron out my curls, I would spit into my hand and wet the back of my hair, before sitting upright for a timed-hour in an armchair, my head pressed continuously against the headrest. As family members moved around the living room, I sat still, pressing my head and neck back fixedly, double-chinned and with strangulated voice, looking ahead even when I was speaking with someone standing behind me.

Over a period of months, compressed by the occipital region of my skull the grey velveteen upholstery of the headrest became matted in the centre, turned slightly purple, like clouds at dusk over marshland; and it was all in vain, all in vain and for nothing that I sat fixated in my shorts, perspiring, like some ruddy-thighed Abraham Lincoln, trying to straighten, while others moved easily around me.