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Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Piece of Chalk

TS Eliot on a bad day sat on a tube train, looked at the faces, wrote 'Dark dark they all go into the dark' - (of course he could have just meant the tunnel.) Granny on a bad day looks blankly at a piece of chalk.

The chalk hangs on a string at the back of the door which opens on to the fridge. Next to it is a little blackboard on which is written - very out of date - 2 chickens, scales, olives, yogurt, potatoes, in her Beloved's writing. Beyond that, pinned up on a tatty sheet of A4, is a list of equivalents - pounds ounces, kilos, grammes, American cups, half cups, printed off the internet; immediately above is another list of equivalent oven temperatures: farenheit, celcius, gas; ditto.

Granny at the very least could wipe the board take the chalk and write - what? - oranges - loo paper? - funeral flowers? - why not? Boring enough, but normal. Others take pieces of chalk, grind them up, add colours, make pictures that sell for vast sums - when they're dead- at Sothebys; or they take a piece of chalk and in scrawled mathematical formulae transform understanding of the cosmos. Still others understand from this one piece of chalk the geology of the South Downs, of the undersea world from which they emerged. Still others - or at least one - write/wrote an essay that in her long-lost youth granny was urged to emulate - but FAILED -processing in stately language from one major theme to another, then folding them back in on themselves, step by step, till they're returned - too neatly? - to the original simplicity; the piece of chalk.

To Granny this morning, with a mild respiratory infection in her head, and worse - black - gloom in her soul, it remains a piece of chalk hanging from a string on the back of the door that leads to the fridge.

Beloved has gone shopping to the little market up north which Granny normally loves but has rejected this morning. On BBC Radio 3, next to her ear, they are comparing - appropriately - recordings of Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. That's it really. If the sun is out again, so what? She's going back to feeling sorry for herself. What's it, she, the world, all about, reader? Nothing?


PS She fed the guests on the 2 chickens, stuffed with raisins, apricots, pinenuts and saffron rice. In another country, long ago, the guests ate them ALL UP.

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