April 5th, 2004

2020 lack of vision

learn from home, cold cash

Weird bloody weekend.

Friday walked home in the sun, stopped at The Head of the River for for a glass of wine so rank it reminded me of village fêtes, conservative fundarisers. I leant on a quiet rail and stared into the Thames until my head stopped spinning the hex values of the colours reflected in the river. I was only there for the back gate into the meadow, really; inside there were geese, and a women staring at them; a magpie which flew away both times I tried to draw it; and rank upon rank of pale narcissi staring down at their reflections in the river, moorhen stepping through them, frisky squirrels. Everywhere smelt green.

The rest of the weekend was all zombies and shopping malls, 80s music and dead parrots (thematically). At home, I couldn't get comfortable; drawing board to bed to table. At the bookshop, some bookmerchant had winnowed their stock, sending us a chaos of antiquarian charmers that hadn't quite been good (desirable? saleable?) enough. Hard to select a cream of the crop, but I spent most time on a 1750s child's guide to the Natural History of Birds, illustrated with with simple copperplates and containing a lunatic mix of semi-accurate knowledge, bestiary-type stories, religious commentary and moral tales about bad children doing cruel things to birds. Parrots often fall into deathlike trances, apparently; and Birds of Paradise subsist entirely on butterflies, and are so light that the smallest gust of wind can blow them out of the air, while, around the mediterranean, children catch bee-eaters using live grasshoppers impaled on bent pins, attached to fishing lines, something they would not do (it says here) if they stopped to consider the sufferings of the grasshopper. Later I ate too much sugar and got a hangover; drank a cocktail at lunch and fell down, repeatedly, even though I wasn't drunk, eventually tracing the weird weakness in my lower back to an imprudently lifted box. Damn those last-minute donations.

I'm vibrating with anxiety, pulling my hair out, skipping tea, eating strangely. (In Amsterdam, a womens' rights poster becomes comment on prostitution; should I be on holiday?) Damian goes wandering through the A-Z; in Blackbird Leys we find an entire area named for fruit and flowers, names enough for all his needs and contains a navigation system that allows people. I try to avoid using the word I. This might help: Keep hitting f5 to hear from other people as self-obsessed as you.

Tea. I should get tea.

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