Walk!

I heard some shouting. I was coming down the hill from North Road. I thought it was a man’s voice but it was a woman’s. Two women, girls really, walking along the road parallel with the Prom. One of them shouting at the other. WALK! NO WALK! They were some way behind me. I turned to look. The shouting one appeared to be holding the other up. The silent one was a skinny thing and dressed in a tiny boob tube and mini skirt. WALK! the woman shouted again, seeming to drag her companion along. Was she drunk, spaced out? I walked on, striding up the hill towards Constitution Hill.

I have to say the same thing to myself. Stay at home with me, he implores. You don’t have to go. But I do. I do. It is tough though, these winter mornings. The rain spatters the windows as I prepare breakfast and my heart sinks. I wore his coat again this morning, though the rain didn’t come till later. Cocooning myself in warm things helps. I lose myself in the swaddling. I make myself invisible in black. All attempts at grace lost. It doesn’t matter. Do you like it? he asked at breakfast. Not at the moment, I reply. But I reconsider. That’s not strictly true, I say. When I get towards the harbour and there is that stretch of sea, it is magnificent, even in the wind and the rain. I am overawed by it at times. And I do for brief moments forget myself. And that is good.

What was it? he asked pointing at the brown envelope. PLANET, I replied. I explain the albeit tacit expectation that as a contributor one is expected to subscribe to such journals. He is astounded. Tell them no, he says. But I understand. If we want these magazines to continue we have to fund them. It is as simple as that. There’s never anything in it, he says. That’s not true, I say, sometimes there are some very good articles. Yes, he says, when you’re in it. This edition is good. It is good. And he is on the front.

It takes me back. How many years? I was studying Illustration at MMU. It was 1992 or 1993, I cannot be sure. I was working at the Royal Exchange as FOH staff. Ten pounds a session they paid us, and sometimes if the play was a long one it would be three to four hour shift. How I hated walking up to my bus through the Arndale. It wasn’t safe. Rough-edged, it still is. He was playing Romeo. He was so alive, so energetic. He ran onto the stage. His movements were animated, jerky, speeded-up. Such an actor, even then. I was awe-struck. Utterly, awe-struck. Sometimes he’d come behind me and put his hands over my eyes. At the end of the run he gave me a big hug. Would he remember? Probably not, he must’ve encounter so many like me. So many. He is on the front cover. His hair has been dyed a vivid blonde. She told me he wasn’t for me. She said his name, though a shortened form. He isn’t for you, she said. Did I ever think he would be? I was smitten, certainly. Touched by him. A special being, I think.

I shall spend the rest of the morning listening back to the interview. There may be something there I haven’t remembered.

Have I told you I am due to see them on Monday? My heart is glad.

First I must call her. She was so poorly last week. I hope she is better. Will she answer?