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2. passing star-scrapes

Cold waves rush in over still-wet hair, I feel fresh. Where I am going, time will tell. I want everything to happen faster, I already want the bus to be here, I want to be on the tube, I want to be in the pub, talking. But things are slowing down - people falling over, getting in the way, doors failing to close, tiny stutters that add to the whole. Stretching out the time of the good things. And the emotions are erratic on these nights; the past and present and future come colliding together - questions whiz and doubts flame onto the calm canvas, breaking up complacency, because some familiar faces are breaking free and making a leap from the cocoon, a little reminder that I must keep on thinking, that our days in the sun are finite and time is running out.

A few years ago I was skittling down Sunday roast in a great little pub and I watched, terrified, a group of older people laugh and touch each other endearingly on the shoulders. They seemed really mature and well-groomed and some of them probably had babies. Seemed as though theyíd know how to deal with anything. That is us now. But I donít feel like it is really - weíre still foolish enough to wreck it all. All of this is blustering into my head as the journey creeps by: sweeping through the stations, rolling past the prosthetic kebab shops, jogging into a smogsmash of malcontent faces. Then my heart begins to pound, my excitement pulse triggers and I canít stop my mouth from fidgeting and I can sense the pub - back into the mesh to re-connect to some friendly faces again. But Iím going the wrong way. Make one bad move and itís another ten minutes before I can smooth over the creases. Nearly now. A laminated night; so crisp, no clouds, you know what Iím talking about. The no-named passers-by are white-skinned, really surreal-unreal, almost like a photograph with no shitty weather, no windiness, just a romantic airbrushed spacelessness. No voices are getting into my head though, Iíve gotta keep up the naive consciousness, the levels of despair and of hunger. Gradually, I begin to see the lights of the pub, its warmth billowing into the harsher air outside.

Flushed cheeks and a massive smile - anyone I recognise? They are deep in conversation and their mouths are mouthing but I canít hear individual sounds in the relentless multiple-voiced hum of the pub. The noise is rocketing through me: a complete contrast to the quietish airs back at street level. Suddenly B looks up and Iím in the game. Smiles. Hugs. Ready. B is a strange one - Iíve got an instant connection with her but I canít work out what it is, even if there is some lust in there as well. One of the best, all of these feelings and emotions. Iím plugged into the burgeoning chatter and for a few hours all our disconnected chaos comes crashing together; even in the city of aliens, the city of lost spirits, we are faintly getting along.

Another miniscule, blink-and-youíve-missed-it cocoon with the windows steaming up. My medicine. My delight. Again all my effort goes into forcing time to slow down, want the minutes to go slower, time to stretch out, push the things that bore the taste further into the future. It wonít work. But the strive for perfection drills deep; this is my unreal room and I only let the things in that make me smile, passing fun-tones that prove I might get some satisfaction, and if a trillion anvils were to fall near me now I wouldnít blink, wouldnít flinch, wouldnít want to break the spell of the moment. The people in these spaces - the way they look - the way they move, the way they unleash themselves into the vibe, uncover the total brilliance of themselves. And it will drop into the image bank when the talkers return to their beds, when the dancers return to their non-dancing days. The drudgery of the outside spaces.

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© Copyright 2016 John Maher