Monday, 7 May 2012

Memorandum re Louise

(A really odd one, this. It was written around a year and a half ago and aired twice at spoken word events, but eventually I shunted it to the back of my workfile, not being sure who would publish it or where it would fit, or even if it actually needed to be published.
At both readings, some people made the usual mistake of asking me whether it was based upon somebody I knew or was 'in love' with. Audience members do this a lot at performance poetry events and poetry readings - they'll assume that what you're saying is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as if presenting something at a poetry event means it's bound to be a biographical narrative.  Inevitably, this isn't some confession I've been desperate to get off my chest and is almost completely fiction, apart from the Jacket Potato bit.  There was a very vain Hoxton hipster type in one of the offices I worked in during the early part of the last decade who would often ignore me completely when we bumped into each other in the kitchen, and for a split second I had the mad thought that this would be an hilarious thing to do to get her attention.  Obviously my better judgement kicked in and it didn't happen, but I kept laughing to myself about the idea for days afterwards.)

I’ve worked opposite her for three years, but she doesn’t talk to me much.  I have received, in total, three tight, fake, rubber band smiles, and a weighty freightload of frowns and incredulous stares.

She doesn’t care for men much – is quite open about the fact.  She points out their aggression, childishness, and lack of compassion at any vague prompt she’s given.  The only man she ever befriended here was eventually jailed for Grevious Bodily Harm.  To all our criticisms, she sneered that we were just too dumb to understand that the trouble always came looking for him, not vice versa.  She told me this slowly, as if she were speaking to somebody who was too simple to understand that the whole world and its cat were prowling the streets looking for fights with enormous, tattooed man-mountains.

I have often thought of telling her I love her, not because I actually do, but because the repulsion in her response would intrigue me – I am almost interested to see if the word could be more feared than a weapon.  At lunchtimes, I sometimes have to fight the urge to scream it aloud whilst chewing on a mouthful of jacket potato.

If Louise ever sees what I’ve written about her on file, she will not be hurt or surprised – she’s beyond both.  She will just state, plainly and simply, that she always knew I was as vicious as this, that this was why she failed to bother with me from the word “go”, right from when I nervously walked through the office doors on my first day.  She can, she will point out, always tell what people are really like from first glance, and they always respond as she expects.  She will point out key words, stabbing her blunt fingernail at them as evidence of misogyny, bad character, and cold-hearted cynicism. 

She will finish by saying, with a slight smile followed by a horrified shudder, that my defence here in paragraph three is a blatant lie.  As usual, it will be my word against hers.

I do hope you will wish me luck tomorrow. 

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