The core of the representation is probably the rose bushes, but there is also the bay windows on the front of the three up two down thirties house, the half timber decoration above the bay windows, summer beneath the ash tree, tea at five thirty, the foot operated sewing machine, black leather shoes with protective steel pins, slow conversations turning into family arguments about some social, political event or other, and family irritants, the cat bringing in a stunned mouse or worse a bird that released flutters around the room causing havoc as the family trys to rescue it from the cat who thinks we're mad as we've only just stopped feeding it bits of cooked chicken from our plates. Everything that is scented of newly cleaned clothes drying on the line in summer or hanging off wooden clothes horses standing strategically besides convector heaters in winter. Starch, bleach and Virgina cigerette smoke, the musty smell of infrequently cleaned jackets and jumpers. Usually the radio or television on next door with pop music blaring out and adverts for anything that moves. Kids playing football out in the adjacent backyard and Cornell heading the ball into the goal.
All this is so pleasent and normal, conventional even that Steve wonders out of shame whether he should have looked for any kind of way out. He's halfway through the memory, before the bit about his Uncle spotting the menthol cigerettes in his pocket `Flashing the Ash eh eh' and he decides to truncate it there. Deciding to remember how at some moment or another he would shut himself up in his room to read Asimov and Huxley, hanging around in his little room listenning to his Pifco transistor Radio, to avoid hearing again about Aunt Sally's latest operation with the graphic details of the general anaesthetic that failed to stop her feeling the dull pain of knives descending and slicing into flesh and the living representation of the nausea brought on by the anaesthetic. Or perhaps it is the story of the mortgage on the house next door when Uncle Stan left the Aunt whose name he couldn't remember, but the dog was called Sam, and moved into the vacent house next door and she still continued to make breakfats and tea for him. Whilst Uncle Jack who is madder than them all is sitting around in his house by the common drinking one cup of tea after another, until the collective sigh of the family rises in volume and everything is going from bad to worse. `John, what we need is a strong govenment !' `Yes, but a strong socialist one ! ' Linda who fortunately knows the bouncer on the door of the Palace so we can get in free and looking at the print of Sean Connery in the Sunday Times, remember the starring moments in Doctor No. Sometimes Mother would go on about James Bond having died at the end of From Russia to Love and that it was Flemings attempt to kill him off like Holmes and Moriaty on the cliffs. Whilst Grandmother would go on about Valentino, Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh with that look in her eye, you men are all alike, you and your vamps.
Steve understood that there was nothing he can say or do, the events and memories are by turns too close and too far away. He's still sitting, and probably always will be, in the large light sitting room the family still spilling through the open patio doors into the garden, his cousin Eddie is still endlessly falling out of the apple tree with the wordless cry, and that the faded black and white photograph with the small boys face looking past the laughing adults into the camera lense will always be stuck in the frame of the window of time, painted off white with a slight blurry edge where the paint was smeared onto the glass.
Steve de Vos - London August 1996
Steve, patriotism (2) - a soliloquy
Steve, his anthropomorphism
Introduction to the Hypertext Novel
Back to Outwork 1