October 1st, 2003


I am Jack's alarm clock

I wake up and it's nearly nine instead of 7.30am. When I dig down through the cushions I put over it to stop the ticking keeping me awake, I find it's turned off. How? Why? I dress and decant to the busstop, aiming for the train that's ten minutes late rather than almost an hour early. The sky is anonymous white and there are no buses. When jackfirecat (who understands the pain of mornings) joins me at the stop, I'm more than ready to share my grumpiness. When I wonder aloud if I turned it off in my sleep, he says, "Thats what I did. Well, not in my sleep, but my alarm went off at 7.30 this morning (I don't know why) and I turned it off," and I just stare. He bloody got my alarm. Nicked it when I needed it. Is this what's been happening to the damn thing? ... and then I remember how this means that I won't have to mooch around Bicester for half an hour and then help Diane set up her bloody data projector and wonder suddenly if it wasn't something I'd visited on him, like the time my fetch went wandering and ended up in somebody's bed.

I was twenty minutes late for the meeting but still in time to say, "Yes, it's on the website," so that's OK.
  • Current Music
    gay bar viking kittens from next door
2020 lack of vision

the dogs in the car go round and round

I find it tastes of nothing, he confides, and it's so overpriced. We were talking about coffee in bookshops. I sip at £1.20's worth of "Mull's favourite coffee" and make no comments about glass houses, while we wait for Jen to find a Barbara Vine novel she hasn't read while the smell of petrol and grass clippings and the distant sound of barking dogs drifts through the gaps around the windows. It's been a quiet summer, but then, it's been rather quiet here since the 70s, in the village where the road ends. By the time we get back to the car, the human seats are all covered with dogs. Jen explains the history of this lost little row of houses as we go to turn around but Jerome (the dog I've met who most needs Dog Island) is getting fractious and all I hear is, "... and that was before the clearances, of course," while a local delivery man pisses himself laughing at the sight of me wrestling a white Alsation bigger than I am.
  • Current Music
    independent baby say elbow pretending to be northern kittens
2020 lack of vision

pen shop for pornographers

The tiny model shop in Golden Cross has turned into a tiny, exclusive pen shop selling beautiful, exclusive pen-related items. There's handmade paper (touched by at least fifty different hands) which they can put your own watermark in, if you ask them nicely and give them a lot of money. There are nibs shaped like pointing hands, love hearts, the Eiffel Tower. There are equisitely expensive-looking letter racks, card-holders, pen-stands, desk sets. There are ink wells shaped like glass pillows and roses, pots bristling with exotic dip-pens; pens for calligraphy, pens for love-letters, pens for drawing musical staves ... There are glistening, candy-bright Venetian glass pens. "Would you like to try one out?" asked the young European man behind the tiny counter, who seemed far too young for his waitcoat and antique pose, and pulled out a sheet of heavily textured cream laid paper and a small pot of iridescent tawny ink, the wax seal already broken (For a previous customer? Or just his own use?) and laid it out on his blotter. I dipped ("you need to dip quite deep for these," he said) and set the nib to paper, turned and twisted the pen, its glassy glide singing the curve, the dilute ink sliding from the twisted glass with unstopping liquid movement. I pressed harder, far harder than I'd dare with a metal nib, suddenly aware that in my hands was a pen with no give, no twist, no flex; a democratic heart despite its glittery, shimmery, decadent look; author of smooth and perfect evenness. I bend down to examine the line and realise that the ink I'm using is richly scented. He shows me the list; rose, musk, lily-of-the-valley, and a dozen others in delicate colours, the rich scents intermingling the fragrance of flowers and the heavier, dirtier smell of ink. I um and ah over the dip pens as he wipes the glass pen for me, and he apologises for the lack of choice; but he's going to Rome next week, where he says there are many fascinating nibs, just waiting for him to buy them. Musk ink and the glass pen; the choice of the elegant pornographer. Rose ink as a gift ("this one smells wonderful," he says, and can't resist untwisting the lid to prove it) and a small steel nib; but at the price he charged me I can only hope it doesn't turn out to be the nib.

Scriptum, Golden Cross (between Cornmarket and the Covered Market), Oxford.
  • Current Music
    the sound of pen on paper