An attempt at exhausting a place

In the living room, close to 11pm, 16th February 2021

It is the end of a long day.

I left the house once, around 5pm. Halfway through our walk the light had already dimmed to the point at which adjustment strained my eyes and made them sting slightly.

I didn’t get much sleep last night.

The fridge has just begun whirring.

The main light is on because Martin likes to read by that light. He sniffs.

The faint background noise is of the wind outside, or cars passing.

Through the opening into the kitchen-dining area there are roses on the table, my orange towel on Iba’s green and blue jacket on the back of the chair.

Black leather sofa.

Faux fireplace that can be shifted.

Guitar.

I sit on the black armchair.

Martin sits on the wooden chair with the futon cover, to my left.

There are sushi rolling mats in the bookcase, along with some headphones (white), DVDs (an Alfred Hitchcock box set, a Stanley Kubrick box set, Midnight Cowboy, Varda by Agnes), some canvasses, a few magazines, a plastic paint palette, books (Wordsworth, The Major Works, a guide book to Nepal, The System of Objects by Baudrillard).

There is an easel wedged between the bookcase and the wall that juts out, where the real fireplace would have been.

On top of the bookcase there is a printer (plugged in), a lamp (unplugged) and a strobe light (unplugged).

There are two old wine bottles (used as candlestick holders) either side of the fake coals in the fireplace.

Portraits on the pale inside of pizza boxes.

The TV on the folding table.

A page turns. He sniffs three times.

There is a rug on the wooden floorboards.

A place is more than just a list.

A place is the meaningful connection between items.

The TV faces the room, a pitch mask.

There are things I don’t normally pay attention to.

The Van Gogh painting of some blossoming branches of a tree. The Christmas wreath is still hooked there, obscuring some of the painting.

On the decking outside the kitchen, 14:44, 12th January 2021

I feel strange standing here.

Sometimes I pause outside Martin’s room to listen, just for a moment. Enough to get a sense, not enough to make sense.

There is such a contrast between the space at the front and back of the house. The back feels like something you can spread into.

I get a chair and sit outside, thinking about us, about as much of us as I can.

I do the practical things, shutting the kitchen windows that look out on this, the valley, the ridges in the distance, and forget what’s going on inside, forget that distinction I’ve inherited about where I am, about what I am, remember that I am, in part, because of whatever is not me.

But this decking didn’t make me who I am, in any worthwhile sense. It can tell me that much, figuratively speaking.

It opens windows onto Linton Kwesi Johnson reciting poetry, as the ridges in the decking, in time, knocked into so many other things in my mind, like a change in the rhythm that occurs and in that silent, pleasant disco, you feel the pressure of those past dances.

I sit out here.

There is a bird tweeting somewhere, a small sound, but thicker than my body.

VX Cafe, Bedminster, 15:59, 7th February 2020

‘Pets Palace’

‘AFC’ graffiti on a grey bin

‘Mr Ben: Travel Goods & Handbags’

‘Buzz!’ spray painted onto a dark wooden fence which tops a wall on which has been painted a white top hat.

M1 bus goes past.

Two men enter.

A woman unlocks her bike. On the back there is a small wicker basket.

A2 bus goes past.

In the back of ‘H/Q Salon’ a woman stands on a step ladder, trimming some wallpaper.

A woman in a cerulean blue dress walks past.

The two men exit.

‘For The Pets charity shop’

A 75 bus goes past. All buses heading towards the river.

‘I want you (She’s so heavy)’, by The Beatles.

All the cyclists go one way – away from the river.

There are 24 pigeons resting on the parapet walls of the three-storey terraces on the opposite side of the street.

A cyclist goes towards the river.

A man carries two stacked metal tables inside ‘Snax Cafe Restaurant’.

A 76 bus goes past.

A woman wheels a pram. With her free hand she holds the hand of her son. A man wearing a flat cap puts something in the boot of his ford fiesta, gets in and pulls away slowly.

A man drives a buggy with a rain cover.

The metal bollards are coloured varying shades of green.

I am conscious of Perec.

Another M1 goes past.

It is 16:18.

I received a text two minutes ago.

A 76 bus goes past.

Lots of people wear those cordless headphones. I hear someone say “mind over matter” which reminds me of the programme I was watching on TV the other day.

A group of 4 walk in, three girls and a guy.

Orange TNT lorry passes.

The sky is desperately overcast.

The group of 4 exit after a little over a minute.

A dirty taxi – people carrier – drives past.

East Street Fruit Market.

A man, overweight, walked out of eyesight a few minutes ago, now he has come back. He has a walking stick.

4 antennae point in three different directions.

A 90 bus goes past, quickly followed by a 672. It is 16:26.

‘Parkstone Home Improvements’ van drives past.

The Smashing Pumpkins are playing.

In front of me I have a tin can of cutlery and napkins, a fritz-kola bottle used as a vase for two daffodils, a finished cup of espresso, a coffee stirrer (used), a metal bucket used as a plant pot, an empty water glass, my phone, a shallow bowl made from a malleable material like bamboo or dried mushroom or hemp, and, of course, this notebook.