Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For All We Know 

Crocuses and snow drops, purple and cream and yellow, great hissing clouds of them, bubbling up to the surface like acne and Spring is in the air, announcing itself with a nip at your ankles and a poke in the ribs - you can taste it, you can smell it, you can practically scoop it up in your ungloved fingers and roll it around your coat pocket as you go about your business.
A brand new baby season seeping up through the perforated soil, like mist rising off the Ribble in the great morning rush, gasping for attention, snatching for breath, sleepless with undreamed dreams of warm skin and soft towels.

Dinner time at Company X and help desk operatives spill across the grounds like seed scattering from a paper cup, pillowy girls bursting out of their blouses and greedy boys, all mouths and hands, on every bench and in every bush in the hazel copse, bedazzled with urges and surges beyond imagining or control.
They do it on sycamore stumps, they do it on their hands and knees, they return to their workstations – 'Barry from Bolton Bathmats rang about a purchase order number; he said not to call back' – filthy as pig farmers, drenched in their fecund lustings. The entire third floor needs fumigating.

Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, spends the day punctuating our attempts at work with excerpts from some book – Crossing the Credit Crunch: Deception Got Us Into This Mess, Denial Will Get Us Out.
“The trouble with you, Tim,” she says, shaking it at me, “is you’re Trapped in a Negative Confidence Bag.”
“Mind if I open a window then?” I reply. “I can hardly breathe.”
“Seriously. If you can’t be part of the problem then you’re part of the solution,” she says, but she lost me at “Trapped.”
Later, outside the datacentre, I catch up with Rex the Security Guard. I think I’m suffering from pre-season potato anxiety.

My granddad on my mother’s side was a keen gardener and he loved to sing.
During the war he’d been in the Entertainments Corps, fighting Hitler at the Steinway Victory Vertical, and we were the best of pals, me and Pop. “Inseparable,” Mum says.
Many was the boozy afternoon we’d spend in the piano bar of the Crown and Cushion, but he died when I was three and I don’t remember a single thing about him. Not a dickie bird.
Now here I am in my middle years, fond of an audience and suddenly keen to raise my own beans, and the connection has only just struck me – Am I trying to impress the old boy? Carrying on a torch? – but this is no time for whiney psychobabble, it never is, because Rex is telling me “So long as chits are green and stubby, not thin and white, then tubers are fine, Tom. Plant any day now, shoots upward.” I thank him for the chit chat.

Tonight, at barbershop rehearsal in the tin rifle range, we sing,
“For all we know we may never meet again / Before you go make this moment sweet again,”
and the meaning seems plain: the boy can’t wait to get his rocks off but she’s not having it. Otherwise he wouldn’t keep going on.
“Love me tonight!” he implores with false urgency. “Tomorrow may never come for all we know!”
Good for her, I say, for not putting out. And him? It might improve his chances if he was less obvious.

Daffodils line the route home, waving and cheering as I pass regally by, botanic name Narcissus of course, named for the man who liked the look of himself so much he slipped and fell, drowning in his own reflection.
I wonder how my worms are getting on. They’re the new chickens, you know. You don’t want to feed them too much before they’ve had time to get friendly and multiply: vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, egg shells to balance the pH. They have five hearts each and are able to regulate their own population as necessary, according to the book they came with.

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