It's always autumn. You settle in to a bunch of washing up at the kitchen sink, and then the warm water on your hands and wrists makes you have to pee.
It's always autumn. Emma was struggling to get a bouquet right, a late October bouquet. She frowned at the arrangement. I thought it was almost there. But Emma lurched towards it. It's too fizzy, she said.
It's always autumn and at the pub the ales are drawn thickly. Thirty or so feet were idle under a long wooden table, crossed at the ankles. Conversation was self-deprecating and complaining, the jolly banter distilled from years of miserable weather. I had a fish pie, my first of the season, all that glorious mash to put some love back on my handles. The lights were at the right lowness. There were flowers on the table and the girls were all very pretty. In this neighbourhood you'll probably see a fox, I had told Hans. Maybe up to four. He laughed at my speculative quantifying. After I left, he texted me: there is the running fox.
Books and pubs are steamy windows.
A couple of nights later, J. and I sat in bed — there's no place left to sit, everything is in cardboard boxes, the sofa is on its side, and life becomes a path laid in six years' worth of dust. And we were watching music videos by The Pretenders. They are so English. Surely that's a caff, not a diner, in the "Brass in Pocket" video. Probably they recorded the album here. That's definitely British, we said. Look at the way the streets curve and sigh. Was Chrissie such an Anglophile? I'd never considered. I suppose it could be that was the pretending she was doing.
When I went back to the States, of course, I got stick for sounding affected. Of course I've been affected by seven years. Is saying tom-ah-to a form of politeness or a performance? But think of all of those years as a boy and teenager in California. Surely that was a performance, too. Is something more authentic just because its context is closer to birth? Isn't change a form of authenticity? Here, politeness is a guise, a weapon, a source of pride. In architecture, the term polite regards a form of decorative affectation not endemic to the particular site. Politeness has its problems. I'm so sorry, sang Morrissey, every turn of phrase so English, so passive aggressive. The Smiths, a common name.
From under the musty bed we pull the Time Out poster that I asked for at the corner shop seven or so years ago. It's Tilda Swinton holding a Derek Jarman mask. For a long time, I decided I didn't like Tilda, that she was overrated. It was a surprising opinion. I decided I found her anaemic and, worse yet, mannered. But then I properly watched Wittgenstein, and then I Am Love. And it dawned that her manner is everything. She's a fox.
Bob Dylan's harmonica may be the dressing, an elaboration. But it sounds like an oncoming train, it's propulsive and moving things forward. It's a construct and the engine. He took the name Dylan and made it into an adjective.
Here he is on the verge of shambolic at the "Royal Albert Hall" (really, the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, a part of a whole other myth; it's a long story and I'm working on it). But this to me sounds like late October.