posted on June 12, 2019 at 9:06 pm

there they are

dad took us to see the film

only there was no real film

oh yes there was a screen

there was a screen with a sort of blurry moving painting

there was a story

but it wasn’t much of a story either

there was no story to be told

but dad said sssh its everyones story

its not my bloody story you whispered under your sweet breath

but then you realised yes it was your story

the story of you and every you ever

a meaningless dreamy miasma of your deepest souled lives

this then was us and everybody there even those not watching the screen

we realise we are not part of this as the audience

the film has jumped out of the screen and included us

thats made me feel strange dad… I said

sssh..! said dad can’t you two be quiet..?

we watch on as the dismal crackly film thing starts up

it  is a sour English summer afternoon

only its not England

its somebody idea of England who’s never been there

a stupid made up England

with too much strange vegetation and recorded bird song

and the grey bitter sky for that summer afternoon

as the old professor and black cat trudge along

a lane hemmed in with old bricks bursting with bloom

old weary man his prime long ago carrying his suitcase

seen so much better days in a dreamlike past that never really happened

what did it all mean now..? as he trod the silent road to his next show

the black cat walked along at his side the size of a small panther

she was as tired as her old master too

and she half heartedly chased small woodland creatures away

what is it girl ? the professor would mutter

as they headed deeper into an unwelcoming afternoon

as they walked in a place that had no time

we had no more time now

oh I began to see

its good… dad said to us in a whisper

sssh… said someone behind us

I hope the cat can talk… you said to dad then

maybe she I can I don’t know of course not… said dad

sssh!… said someone in front of us

the old professor

professor of what..? I wondered

professor of something though anyway… the whole audience thought

yes he’s got the old black dusty suit and a crumpled hat

hey you..! I said… give me some of those chocolates..

give him some of the chocolates… dad hissed at you and I smiled

and then

please just watch the bloody film… he implored us

sssssh! said some behind us

oh shuttup.. said dad over his shoulder

meanwhile the old professor and his rather large cat trudged on towards wherever they were going

sometimes it seemed they were on some old train

or riding along on a horse drawn cart

but I rubbed my eyes…

hey wake up! dad said… you’re falling asleep

it didn’t seem to matter if you were awake or asleep for this film anyway

in my day dream I was the old professor and I had been walking along forever

sometimes I grumbled to the cat about things

that last bloody hotel, kitten

they doubled charged us for my tomato soup

I searched through my pockets for money

they were full of strange bits and pieces

little machines and diagrams and yes there was some money

but what a strange faded currency it was

the coins nearly worn smooth

the notes all wrinkled and ripped

who was that sad king staring out in shade of palest grey..?

well how about that..?

one minute im just a boy watching a film

next minute im the old professor walking along with the black cat

as I grumble the cat sits and listens and with her body she indicates agreement or disagreement

when I tell her ive lost my bloody glasses too

she walks away dismissively until groping my forehead oh no ha ha

I had them on all the time

my head is bursting with stuff

all the meaningless blah blah blah of mathematics and literature

all those stupid paintings and symphonies and architectural blueprints

all those flying machines and gas lamps and mechanical squeezers

what did any of it avail him now..?

the black cat the afternoon the road the hedge the wall the puddles

the beginning of a light cold rain

the cat runs into a graveyard at the side of the road

oh no kitten no come out of there… says the old professor

as the cat jumps between the weeds and cracked angels

all the faded names on  the broken stones

the names of everyone watching the film

the camera dwells on all the names

how I envy the dead.. someone sighs

someone else says shhhh!

dad squeezed your hand

its only a film.. he said

they walk on down the road as the afternoon never changes

grumble grumble grumble

no they never fixed that hole up did they, kitten…?

and my goodness every time it rained well I got a letter from the library

it said that I never returned that book but I did

look I have the slip in my pocket don’t I …?

they just say anything and expect you to pay don’t they

they must think we were born yesterday.. he said

as he reached into his pockets looking for things

I was sure the film must be nearly over when they finally got to wherever it was they were going

when I thought about it later

I wasn’t sure if it was a stately little castle

or a rowdy inn full of beastly villains

or if it was a door in a tree

but there they were

here they are

no here we are

we sat down at a table and they brought us out some food

yes kitten yes I know you’re hungry too…as I popped a piece of cake into her mouth

the people in that place are weird and frightening dad…you whispered

yes well im sure they are supposed to be…dad whispered back

everyone in the place looked like some kind of animal

there were men who looked like goats and pigs

and disgusting spidery women

and  the  old lady that looked like a sheep plonked  down a mug of dark ale

the old professor lets the black cat lick at the foam

yes yes you were a thirsty little cat weren’t you kitten he mutters

the cat looks up from her lapping

and for a moment her foamy whiskers make the old professor laugh

a laugh which turns into an awful wheezing cough

a big rough looking man with a jutting jaw sits down opposite

I’m you’re fuckin’ ‘ospitality manager he grunts unsmilingly

what animal is he supposed to be…you whispered

a bull I think I said

dad butted in …oh really I thought he was a kind of a camel

we both giggled at this

yet at the moment he just looked like some awful old man

eat your cakes drink your beer and then lets ‘ave some fuckin’ music please squire

the old professor scowled at the man

I certainly hope your piano is in tune sir… the old professor said in his most aloof accent

my fuckin’ piano (he pronounced it piana) is so in tune you won’t fuckin’ believe it.. said the man

anyway we’ve ‘ad much more popular acts play here than you and none of’ ’em complained

oh yes..? I said and the old professor said it at the same time as me

and which acts are you referring to that are more popular than us..?

‘ere you got tickets on yourself ‘avent you..said the man

but last week we had Lucy Crow appearing with the Birches

at this remark the cat hissed

and the old professor said in indignation

but surely sir that act is a juggling act and therefore does not use the piano

I didn’t say they used it..the man said

I said they never complained

there seemed little to be argued about

the old professor was defeated

all this way to be talked to like that …he said to the cat

who blinked her eyes and shook her head in agreement

this crowded miserable inn

in an inn and in and in muttered the old professor

alright he says and where is the artists changing rooms

im afraid the artist changing rooms are under renovation

and therefore you can just go straight on from here…said the man

airs and bloody graces …exclaims the man shaking his big rough head

I give you five minutes and on you go..! the man said and got up and walked away

the old professor sat there glumly sipping at his ale

with his other hand he stroked the cats head

bloody idiots the lot of them,  kitten

I blame myself but they’re still all idiots

the black cat did not react but licked her paws and rubbed her face

I told the man who sold us our umbrella and he knew who I was

I mean who I am of course ha ha

his muttered rant is drowned in the din of the inn

but in my mind I can hear his voice go on and on

his list of grievances against the world at large

the price of butter

the shortness of breath

the long wait for summer and then rain

if only I could get properly warm

the damn nettles and the damn little stones in my shoe

and then

and then it was time to go on

a tiny little stage with an upright piano

and crimson worn out curtains

theres a table onstage with some gin and a vase of flowers

the cat sits behind the piano

we can’t see this clearly because of the film

but she can somehow play the piano

and she plays scales up and down and tries out little phrases

but it is the strangest music you have ever heard

I like it… I said

oh I don’t… you said

as the cat played the piano the old professor began to sing

and this was his song

oh snake in a ditch 

elusive and rich 

the loveliest venom which causes the twitch

and the worm and the toad that goad you to fold

the silence of rats that gnawed in the cold 

(at this line the cat did a flourish and growled )

you feathery thing Im standing here singing for you 

the blackberries thorns and the bunions and corns 

the damp pulse of your heart 

the wiry start to your flight 

take me to where you hibernate 

because im oh so tired and its oh so late

lost in a fog on a dog of an afternoon 

(again the cat growled)

I dream of a stream with the life of a bream

close to the earth or deep in the ground

where all truth is to be found

the old professor left off singing and did a little dance

the cat played on with a kind of three four waltz

but the chords were never the ones you were expecting

and I felt breathless trying to keep up with whatever the music was supposed to be

but then you suddenly understood a few seconds later but it was too late

his dance was awkward and weird

he seemed out of sync with himself and the music

the audience cheered and roared and some seemed to turn into the animals they were

the old sheep lady walked around with her tray of beer

and she haggled with the drinkers in her bleating voice

when the song was over the audience exploded into applause

seems the idiots like us… the old professor muttered in the cats ear

she began the second song

oh but it went on for so long and before long I was hypnotised

the croaky voice of the old man

his words about eels and cranes and the rate at which red roses wilt

and the fields and the woods and the biggest city he’d ever seen

trees aflame in arctic nights

and falling stars that shot across your sleepy sky

the wonderful whirl of slumber

the bark of the oak the purr of the fir

the voice of the leaves that says your name in your dream

the song and film suddenly stop

the screen  is a black oblong accompanied by the soft whirr of the projector

after about 10 seconds the old professor and the cat appear

the colour is different somehow and they both look a little changed

the old professor strokes the cats head

you’ve been such a good girl… he mumbles as he falls asleep

such a good such a good girl

the cat sits on the bed for awhile

before we see her jump out of the open window onto the rooftops and away

the credits roll

a sad orchestra crackle out a theme

the lights come on

dad just sits there in his seat

oh boy I fell asleep.. he says

it was the morning and they were leaving.. dad said

what happened then..?

we looked at each other

and we turned and followed him out of the cinema

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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