The sun in the sky is freezing hot, the ground is soaking dry.
The daylight is dark white, the sky an orangey blue.
The vapour trail of a plane overtakes it and smothers the jet. In the distance a bird mimes to a backing tape of its song. Over there a dog chases its tail ripped off and thrown far by a cruel owner.
Mister Clemons (his Father had named him after himself) and his sister, Missus Clemons (she was named for her mother) walk slowly through the park.
He says, "And I said, 'you think that was self referential, what about these words I am saying to you now?'".
She says, "I think therefore I am thinking."
He says "What do you call an insect that watches flies on walls?"
She says, "I was suicidal but confused - I took short walks on long piers."
He says, "She was footloose and fancy-free. No wonder nobody fancied her if one of her feet was loose."
She says, "When the cat's away, the mice will play charades."
Then they walk on by.
Right now I am at the beginning of my rope. I am young, in love and happy. I have a good job - I work as a gift horse dentist which is easy as I never even have to look at them in the mouth. I have a nice flat in a great area - it's a red light district - loads of photographic developers.
I have a lovely girlfriend. She is the grand daughter of Dame Wendy House, the 1940s play object designer who gave her name to the pretend abode. I met her at a ceilidh on ice - slippery, but fun. She works with BIFS children - Blurred Infant Face Syndrome. These are kids who are born with their faces slightly out of focus - it can be hard disciplining kids you can't look straight in the eye.
Everything, oh everything, is good. So why am I out here walking in this park wondering about my future? Oh haha, good question! This story is a real Russian Doll of worms - you open one doll you find worms and another doll which you then open, and you find a slightly smaller doll and more worms and so on until you get to the tiniest doll where there's just one worm in. Which is completely irrelevant but you get the picture.
Let's go back a couple of months. . .
So, I'm lying in bed constellating the stains on my ceiling - there's the sheep, the mobile phone, the break-dancers. It's been a slow day a day like a local train. I've been watching Angling Ragnarok, the BBC's number one show combining coarse fishing and Norse mythology. The host, Quentin Clocklon, finds a quiet river, gives viewers fishing tips, then from out of a bloody red sky comes one of Asgard's top Gods to discuss the Icelandic Eddas. 'Sgreat. Today was Bass and Loki! After that finished, I spent some time getting to know the back of my hand so when anyone asks me if I know the area, I can be more honest with them when I say how I know it like...really well...
And then the phone rings. I pick it up and a voice goes
Twelve, said the voice on the other end and then they hung up.
I don't know what it means and I pretty much ignore it and get on with whatever I was getting on with which frankly wasn't much.
TO AVOID THE SITUATION OF THE NUISANCE PHONE CALLS, HE HEADS TO MEXICO. . .
I spent many weeks travelling around, gaining many new and fantastic experiences. I saw Mexican skating beans, doing little figures of eight in the ice. I saw men playing blow billiards, a game I could never master, I saw lice picking chimps out of each others backs but the people of the place were the most special. . .
For example, in June the sound of laughter abounds from the happy valleys of Southern Mexico as the natives celebrate one of the oldest traditions of Latin American folk life. It is the time of Las Fiestas de los Mueblos (the festivals of the furniture) and I was fortunate to be invited to La Fiesta de las Mesas (the festival of the tables) to join in the excitement of this very special time of year.
Villagers from far and wide bring their tables to the town of Geplana and discuss this year's fortunes. Some come by train, others by car, but most arrive on a horse driven cart with their table on the wagon. For three days and nights, all aspects of the life of the table are serenaded; there is the song of the lumbermen, the pageant of apprentice carpenters, and this year a special play commissioned by the festival's organisers - a comedy about a table shop and the proprietor's amusing efforts to sell his table wares. But the highlight of the festival is always the crowning of La Reina de las Mesas (Queen of the Tables). She is chosen from far and wide to resemble the best virtues of that year's tables - some years she is heavy, some years she is dark and shiny, one year she was bow legged and had a plate of glass in her middle. But always she is the fairest of the fair maidens of this valley and treated like a Queen ought.
After the festivities have died down, the folk return to their villages with their tables (or sometimes with a different one, for the Fiesta also acts as a market place for eating surfaces). And so the town of Geplana returns once more to the quiet solitude it has enjoyed for much of these past centuries. I asked 'Pedro', a street urchin, what he wanted to be when he grew up. "Why una mueblista (a furniture maker) of course! They have such a fine life!" he replied. And in Pedro's eyes I could see the true love that these people have for furniture, a love only matched by their love of life itself.
I left Geplana with happy memories of a fine time and rode on to the next town, where, in a few days time, they would be celebrating La Fiesta de las Sofas. But of course I would long cherish the people of Geplana, and Las Canciones de las Mesas (the songs of the tables) would remain with me forever.
HE RETURNS TO BRITAIN. . .
I found myself here in my late Aunt's home village of Red Apples. It nestles silently in an indeterminate part of the English countryside where it's always August and even the maturest people fancy their chances at climbing some of the trees.
These are the things you notice:
There is no war memorial. Of the 72 men who fought in the First World War, and 112 who fought in the second, all returned home safely.
On windy days, like today, the High Street is prone to the occasional Tumblesheep when stray, weak lambs blow softly through the village.
Here we're passing the home of the first Lord Somersault, who, when introduced at society functions would enter the room tumbling head over heels through the air, thus giving his name to the gymnastic.
Look - over in that meadow - a pair of lame tractors, probably been used in illegal tractor fights where they're brought to a frenzy and made to have a go at each other for the pleasure of farmers. Sad to see such noble machines so injured and broken down.
In January, it plays host to the English round in the World Cross Country Rally Dancing Championship. Pairs from many countries come to fox-trot, quickstep and tango through the tricky winter terrain.
HE ATTENDS A MEETING OF THE FRANZ KAFKA APPRECIATION SOCIETY. . .
It looked like being another good, solemn meeting. A dozen pale young men in ill fitting borrowed suits had climbed the difficult stairs up to the attic in this cold old building I'd found, and we set about drinking weak tea and eating dry cake and discussing our hero's genius. The chilled, pale, daylight was just fading from the single, grime addled window, and we were beginning to lose all feeling in our hands and feet. It was brilliant. We were really cold and miserable and we were really getting into Kafka's mindset.
And then Bloody Nigel had to ruin it, didn't he. Not only did he arrive late, he had turned up in his stupid Cockroach suit - again! - wrongly thinking it was a "Metamorphosis" week. It wasn't - it was a staring and dry coughing week! We rather lost the will to continue. I burnt the minutes and we trudged out into the pale evening and said our good-byes. Roy and Dominic went into the pub to play the new "The Trial" pinball game at which you always lose though it never gives you the reason; I went back in to practice my coughing and intense stares; the last I saw of Nigel he was trying to get on a 29 bus without breaking his false legs and mandibles.