Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Soft Scoop

Posted Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Written today

It started with the shadow dance. The few people in the know thought this dance craze was just another physical expression of body and soul to follow on from the jive, the jitterbug, the black-bottom, the twist...

People had been jabbing their limbs about since time immemorial, it seemed, just as inexplicable and pointless as all the other amateur artistic activities such as daubing, musicking, moulding, scribbling ...

Life’s survival, the workaday existence from dawn to dusk, needed these light reliefs for their own sake. Especially George who had a most lugubrious life outside of his penchant for wild-limbed dancing. His various girl friends would have had a lugubrious life, too - simply by being his girl friends, without such scatty bouts of dancing. With no dancing side to George there would have been no girl friends. Indeed, there may not even have been any George at all.

So pointless, yet not pointless. A strange paradox. There was no end result to dancing, unless, of course, one were a professional dancer. And George never aspired to anything beyond the dancing itself. Maybe, however, an odd girl friend here and there harboured different feelings about the dancing shared over the years with generations of George. One girl by the name of Emily, for example, during the Blitz years, admittedly considered dancing as not having an end beyond itself, but, against that, dancing, for her, was a thing-in-itself, a tangible artifact, a visual retrievable mass of limbs and faces that lived on forever even without the aid of film or any other means of recording by artificial device or by human memory. It simply was. And still is. The dance of George with Emily. It didn’t even need words to describe it for it still to be able to remain forever as a thing-in-itself. It did not even need knowing about by others. All of us would see it (experience it) soon enough. The dance was almost an aid to immortality, but that often came too late.

Emily’s shadow dance, then, was at first the simple act of walking arm-in-arm with George (leading rather than being led) through London’s blacked-out streets: more a shallow dance, because the night was like a tunnel, with no sky, until the bombers droned ever nearer in tune with opportune sirens and visibly protective flak higher up than the earlier ‘tunnel’ roof.

“How much further?” asked George. He was a slim, pencil-moustached gent of old-fashioned waters. Typically a time of the forties then, while also in his own forties. Emily was a sternly beautiful woman in high-fashion gloves and beetling hair-style so typical of the times: quite a catch. Neither could see each other at the moment. But the ‘dance’ existed already: their future life together, given certain eventualities that probably would never happen.

Eventually, however, they did reach their destination.

Much hustling and shooing by bouncers at the doorway so as not to allow any light to escape from the hall to alert the enemy bombers. But soon George and Emily were together in the blinding expanses of the Palais de Danse, amid what felt like literally millions of milling dancing pairs, fleshy dodgems vying for romance as well as for the simple pointless pleasures of the ongoing waltz. But waltzes don’t last forever... After the foxtrots and the quicksteps, there came an even more crazy craze.

History books have not told of all the fads and fancies that came into their own through the various periods of human conflict. The soft scoop was one clincher of a smooch that nobody got to hear about. One with no wild limbs, no hints of future Dad Dancing in the gauche eighties, no separate jigging on the unromantic spot that so typified the later discotheques...

The soft scoop was a sleek, lithe snaking together as both partners slowly consumed each other piecemeal during the deepest, darkest kiss that tongue-tied shyness might otherwise have prevented. George and Emily watched the others perform, before she took him by the hand, with a slight anticipatory peck on his cheek, tugged him to the centre of the ballroom floor, like vessels being launched into the brightness of a bashful dream.

The single ghost that left the shattered palace did not exist because each of its two minds mutually neutralised any of the other mind’s thoughts. But it existed forever. If only as a dance.


A Watery Grave

posted Sunday, 6 January 2008
He lived by the seaside, in fact he loved living by the seaside, but certainly not for just the ‘side’ side of the seaside! He felt the sea was a constant companion, a tutelary force, a system of friendly waves and not so friendly waves. Not that he had any physical contact with the sea itself. He did not even walk on the beach. But he tried to visit sights within sight of the sea each day on his morning constitutional. He had been brought up by the sea when a small child. Perhaps, now he turned 60, that explained why the sea was such a magnet, recently drawing him back to these parts after a career lifetime away inland. A big all-purpose magnet that attracted in an unfocused way across the bleak workaday lands that intervened between him and it. Now a smaller magnet, perhaps, since it only needed to attract from around the corner where he lived in a bungalow, if not within direct sight of the sea, certainly within whiff and smell of it - and, on certain windy days, within sound of it.
That was real. Now for the fiction:
Except there was no fiction, was there? It was all real. It smelt real, it looked real, it sounded real - but did it feel real, did it taste real? He was sure, before he finished this story, he’d walk down the beach for the first and final time to complete the circle of senses with regard to the sea.

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