Richard Pierce

Life, Music, Poetry, Writing

Day 226

It’s dark in the office. Late afternoon. The ceiling light isn’t on, just the angle-poise above my desk. The sun is already dipping below the houses in the street, and the garden is daubed in shade. It’s still warm, though, and 33C in here. I’ll be sorry to lose the heat, but only because it’s nice to be able to be in the garden at night in shorts and t-shirt. It’s unpleasant in here, and in parts of the house, and the issue of water availability is becoming forever more acute. I have now finally put the second water butt we inherited with the house on two bricks and a broken paving slab, and linked it to the water butt that catches the water from the office roof with a hose pipe. I wanted to do it before the forecast rain comes, so I can catch as much water as possible (and the roof of the office does catch a lot of water, perhaps because it’s flat at a slight incline and rubber rather than a steep incline and tiles; who knows the physics?). Let’s hope it works.

Six of the seven book shelves are now up (M is still trying to unwarp the last one, but I think that will take a few days). We have populated most of the six that are in situ (and remarkable level bearing in mind the trials and tribulations we had with the drill yesterday). We even had a mini-argument when I said they ought to be ordered alphabetically by author’s surname. M doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble while I think it’s an absolute necessity. I always find it extremely weird that a man whom most of the world think is a chaotic creature is actually very ordered (anal, even in certain things), but I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that my books and poetry and art thrive on chaos, and to indulge that chaos, I need to have things around me, in my normal life, in order. The fact that the office has been a bomb site for the best part of a year is something I still struggle with, but the book shelves will sort some of that out. What will probably happen is that I’ll have all my writing books in here (books I’ve used to do research, dictionaries, thesauri, books of poetry, cricket books, etc etc). The only slight disappointment I have with the shelves is that they won’t take as many books as I had hoped they would. Perhaps I’ll be able to persuade MY that we need some more elsewhere.

I followed through on Marina Florance’s prompt yesterday and wrote some lyrics for the new song. Two drafts, the second of which is more to Marina’s liking. Now we just need to wait for her to find a tune. That could take some time, but there’s no rush. These things have to gestate. And when the tune is there, we’ll work on the words again. That’s one thing I love about being a lyricist; it’s like putting together puzzles, and I don’t mean cryptic crosswords nor jigsaws. I guess what I mean is more like working out a conundrum, or taking something to bits and putting it back together again. It’s actually quite a thrill.

If the office wasn’t so hot today, I’d have started working on some of my own music for some of my words. Perhaps it will have to wait until the winter, although the dark days might take the joy out of it.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 179

This time, Aggie doesn’t take her usual big steps. Instead, she slows down, takes her time, takes pleasure in the fabric and composition of this ancient place, this hole in the ground where no-one expects there a hole to be. She runs her hands of the contours of the rocks and the bricks, even bends down to touch the rough dust of the path under her feet, stops now and again, and leans against the walls of the tunnel, to feel its coolness and calmness through her clothes, on her forehead. Part of her doesn’t ever want to leave this dark place, this quite place, this silent and accepting place. But she knows she has to. And still she doesn’t speed. Instead, she dawdles. She doesn’t think she’s ever dawdled in her life. Her fingers touch the walls again, as if they are finding their way along the skin of a lover, as if they are exploring something they have never encountered before. She shakes her head in the dark, tries to banish thoughts of love and lust, of caring. It makes her too vulnerable.

She tries instead to think of that girl, of herself, in the mud in the centre of that unknown village, asks herself how it could have been that that girl came to be loved and then to be hated by that local woman, that Petra, and to be used by that man whom Petra said she herself loved instead, and owned, and wanted, and wouldn’t be parted from. Where love suddenly meant being inseminated without knowing what it was, of carrying some sort of life inside you, only to have it ripped away, and then to realise that love is a lie, will always be a lie, makes you vulnerable and weak, and open to deceit, and hurt and pain and death. Is that what she wants, to be so open to Lilibet that she gives her the power to destroy her. And yet she can’t help feeling the way she feels, can’t help seeing, here in the dark, those blonde curls, that lithe body with the slight tell-tale bulge around the midriff that tells of children borne, of seed germinated, a feeling she, Aggie, will never have. ‘No. That’s enough,’ she says out loud, and the echo that comes back at her takes her by surprise with its harshness and force.

Aggie puts her head down, and marches on as quickly as she can, now, until the map in her head blinks at her. One more step, and she’s at the door she knew would be here. Another heavy thing, fashioned from antique metal, bars across it to reinforce it, again giving the impression that the tunnel is that which needs to be safeguarded, not what’s on the other side, not what’s on the outside. She asks herself if she’s missed something in the tunnel, despite having caressed almost every inch of the wall with the tips of her fingers, and resolves to be more thorough on her way back. She pushes against the door, and it gives, reluctantly at first, but then more easily, its resistance fading against her strength. More steps, just as she expected, and in that familiar spiral shape. Were they built as stairways to heaven? Especially bearing in mind where this one will lead to. She climbs up them easily and quietly, until she reaches the very top, where they suddenly end. She lifts her arms, and pushes against the stone she knows is above her head, and it lifts out of the way easily, and slides to one side with barely a sound, and just one slight click, which confirms to her its a hinged mechanism. She lifts her head out of the opening she has created, and all she sees is darkness, filtered through an ochre cloth. She reaches out and lifts the cloth an inch, and she’s looking out at the magnificence that is the deserted nave of the cathedral. And she’s surfaced under the altar, at the very centre of this place.

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