Looking for inspiration?

On my way home I stopped and sat on a bench.

It was just passed where they are pulling down the council offices. The building had half its face ripped off, as if it had been the victim of a bomb blast.

Strands of iron hung down in the gaps between the floors with concrete fragments like decorations. The whole eight storey block was missing one side of wall with all the other walls intact and the edges of floor protruding like snapped bones or the ripped edge of a cardboard box.

On the bench I looked at West London to see if it contained one last shred of beauty. Today, in this war-torn, commercialised, celebrity-worshipping, whore of a city, was there one scrap of nature left to comfort me? To inspire me.

I stopped because my bag was heavy too. Already tired from swimming I’d bought two reams of paper, to be used for purposes I won’t go into here.

There was another broken wall alongside the path where I sat on the bench. It had uneven stones along the top. Not exactly beauty, but at least a reminder of age. Ancientness creates its own value. I can forgive the historical city with its brutal employer practices, death-penalties, denial of suffrage for women, because all that is long ago and time has healed while it has eaten away at that wall.

Above the wall there were claret clouds scudding westward on the early evening breeze. Nature at last and undeniably beautiful, if only because the clouds were elevated so far away from humankind.

I watched a man walk by with a haunted face. He probably saw in me a threat, another man, a stranger, sitting on the bench for no purpose. What purpose could there be to sit outside in London with no cigarette? He probably didn’t notice the nascent flowers below the bench, and anyway, nascent is a word best reserved for breasts.

Then a sound. A single voice of opera. A tenor, either recorded or practicing, I couldn’t tell which because he was so deeply embedded in the house alongside the path. That got me off the bench. I went and leaned in close to the wall and listened. But the singing voice was still far off and faint, drifting away with the claret clouds. So I gave up and finished my walk home. But all the way up Castlebar Hill I could still hear opera. It was slightly scary. It seemed to emanate from the echoes of cars that laboured up the hill past me. It came from slightly behind and it sang that beauty existed everywhere and inspiration can be found anywhere. Even in Ealing.

Inspiration is like sex, always available if I really want it.


Gillian McDade said...

I really enjoyed reading this, Rod. I was absorbed in the scenery and swept along. I can still hear the opera!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Liked that.

Sam x

Helen Black said...

Rod you're either osmeone who notices things or you're not...you most definitely are my friend.
HB x

Roderic Vincent said...

Helen, I love Osmeone. The Greek goddess of anonymity?

Debs Riccio said...

Didn't Osmeone run away with Persephone?

Roderic Vincent said...

Debs, if I remember rightly it was actually: telephone.

Laura Wilkinson said...

Great piece, Rod. Evocative and so true. I particularly liked the description of London as a whore. Intrigued by the sex comment...

Roderic Vincent said...

Thank you very much.