Letter from Glasgow: The Room Inside
I used to be always on the move — planning trips, looking for tickets, for timetables,
was the regular punctuation of my life, but it was also a distraction and an anxiety.
Two years of enforced relative stasis by pandemic and I am still drawing breath,
relieved at not having to spring into step at my own or other’s demand.
But I want to get to Belgium, there is a painting I would like to see in Ghent —
Children Washing by James Ensor. I am not even sure if it is still there. Oddly enough
this painting is one of the few things that binds me with obstinate allegiance not only
to my house but to my room here in Glasgow. There is something about this painting,
and about its relation to the room in which I sleep and read, that means I cannot
imagine moving elsewhere, from this room, in this flat, in this city.
This winter among the trees of sub-arctic Russia I found light and heat became elusive, granular substances that take on indistinct but alluring personalities. The day’s light scatters quickly if you aren’t alert, and even if you are it is still always fading, dispersing like sugar in tea. The rainbow colours of afterglow on snow dissolve into the night and before they disappear they melt the edges of things, blur bodies and sharpen windows and other angles. In my longing I found delight in the glitter of vestiges of sunlight catching the crystals of snow, or the lazy, sleepy blue that held on till I found myself tramping through shadows. I’d notice suddenly that my ears were tuning in to the loud crunch of my heavy lumps of cold feet and that the sound was all that was guiding me now.
Marcelle 6. Cigarillos
Elle tire sur son cigarillo Davidoff, moi sur le mien. Elle n’avale pas la fumée, moi non plus. Nous
fumons de concert, chacune selon sa partition.
Jamais de cigarettes, avec ou sans filtre. Jamais de tabac parfumé à la menthe, à la vanille. Pourquoi pas
au chocolat ou au nougat tant qu’on y est ? Jamais de substances allégées, light, édulcorées. Autant
Il va de soi que Marcelle et moi, nous ne fumons pas par addiction. Une boîte de cigarillos est comme une
boîte de chocolats fins : on ne se jette pas dessus. On déguste. On soupire d’aise. Qu’il est doux de fumer
ensemble en causant de choses qui font plaisir ou sans causer du tout.