An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Saturday, June 03, 2006

THE POWER OF LONGHAND (part the first)

It was after ten when Gilbert got down to the cellar the next morning. It had been a long night's journey to this day and he had slept heavily on past Abby's rising. As he sipped his first coffee of the day and lit his first gasper Abby came in from the garden in her tatterdemalion gown. So perfectly adapted to farming and gardening was this patchwork dress that neither dirt nor burr nor brack showed, no matter what she had been doing in it, and this morning she had mainly been watering plants. She sat herself across from him and poured her first coffee of the day. "You look well" she said, "you were sleeping so peacefully and snoring so raucously that I didn't like to disturb either one. I left the shutters closed so as not to upset the sheep with the noise". Gilbert rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and smiled. "It went well last night - like a well oiled machine in fact - very well indeed. Your recollection was the key to it all. If only I had that facility for recall but ..."

He steepled his hands and tapped them to his chin, "'Think longhand Gilbert. The power of longhand.' do you remember saying that? Where did you get that from? Who said that?" She made to speak but he carried on, waving her to silence. "I know you use it sometimes and I know it's from my own past but you could never have guessed how prophetic it was too!"

This time she would not be silenced. "It's you - from B S Johnson. We were having a dinner party in London before we came here and Inge was there and your agent and a couple of others - I don't recall exactly. We were on the port, or rather you and Desmond were, Inge and I had kept a bottle of Cliquot back and were quaffing that instead, well you were talking about typing and word processors and the rest and Desmond was saying how word processors and computers had made his life so much easier - no more awful handwriting to decipher and you were going on about that old clapped out typewriter that you were so attached to had been an inspirational device on occasion and then you got all romantic and started reminiscing about how the earliest drafts of some of your first shorts had been scratched out with an old fountain pen and how you sometimes felt nostalgic for those days silly old sentimental sod ..." "What ever became of that typewriter? Do you know, I can't for the life of me remember parting with it.".

"I do wish you wouldn't do that Gilbert - you just cut me off in mid-flow and I hate that I really do." Abby was clearly angry at being interrupted and she let the silence mature malevolently. "I sold it, that's what happened to it. It was cluttering up the back of a cupboard and I sold it to a grimy old gipsy man who came to the door one day asking to buy typewriters. It was ages ago - why? does it matter?" "No darling, it matters not a jot - I just wondered. Please carry on, so it was a dinner party and we were talking about writing and, and ..." Abby swept a stand of hair from her face and smiled. "Well you were going on about the pen being mightier than the sword and Desmond mentioned that he had been talking with the guy who was doing the B S Johnson biography - he certainly took his time over that didn't he? - and that he, the biographer, had said that Johnson always began his novels on exactly the same day of the year - Boxing Day I think - in the same place - his mum and dad's house - and how he had always insisted on longhanding his drafts - and that he used the same pen on the same type of pad - one from pile he had stolen from a previous employer - some gas firm or such. Anyway, Desmond was interested in the ritualistic nature of the genesis of those amazing pieces but you just shouted him down, you were pretty pissed by then, and, as you do, getting bombastic, and you just shouted it out "The power of longhand - that's the thing - the power of longhand - never forget it! And then you went on and on about how many masterpieces had been written with the pen - and, as I recall it it all got fairly raucous thereafter and people began to leave - but that's where it comes from - from you! The other thing that I do remember, and I remember it very clearly, is that Inge was cross at not being the centre of attention for once."

"So," she said, "Now you know, Now tell me about your nighttime adventure ..."

(to be continued ... )

1 comment:

  1. Better and better; the butterfly unfurls his wings and holds them open, basking in the sunshine.