By Nadia Kingsley
HI. Shall I sit here? Do I just start talking? I got here too early, that’s the problem – been looking at a newspaper in your waiting room – can’t even say what was in it – oh, the headline; the photograph, of course.
Nothing new, is there? They’ve got different features, different clothes – but otherwise the same old images as, gosh, thirty years ago?
They got me agitated back then. You saw them, you look old enough: that fly in the corner of the child’s eye – so thin I could see the shape of each bone, and the child not even blinking; the baby hanging off a deflated breast – I was in my first house so must have been mid eighties – before my semi-detached with its varnished black flooring that was a nightmare for my cleaner, but ooh it was worth it – with Geldof swearing – wouldn’t be allowed these days
I pledged – who didn’t? It had the feel of history to it. I was storing up stories to tell my grandchildren, still buying into that old way of thinking. Before I found myself.
And The News? – Well, just look at it … Same ol’ Same ol’ – Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq one and two, Syria: and always the people looking defeated, dirty, wailing, staring into the camera – and you just know they’ve been told to do that. Don’t they know it’s a cliché? I mean – come on – give me something new – like in a good disaster movie – you got to love them – how it’s a given from the start – the vast majority just won’t make it. If Tom Cruise survives – I come out smiling – he is so handsome. Good runner too. Or is that Mel Gibson?
You writing this down? You should know better. It’s too dim for that. I know – see – I’m a proper doctor. Don’t let my well-manicured nails suggest otherwise – I know a whole lot about vision – wrote my thesis on it – I was the go to expert for the local radio, no less. Oh yes – I always blew them away with this one: How it’s the reduction in the number of connections in the brain that improves the infant’s vision.
Oh. You look puzzled. You must have missed that lecture. But what most interested me was how memory comes into the equation. Look – let me give you an example:
It’s summer solstice, the year 2000 – and it’s raining. I am hurrying through the streets to Costa to meet up with a mate I haven’t seen in a millennium. I’ve decided I’ll have a large hot chocolate with whipped cream and a marshmallow; and if he offers to pay I’ll get a blueberry muffin too.
I see her reflection first – blurred. She’s looking in the window of a shoe shop. She looks hungry somehow, and there’s something about her that reminds me of a younger me?
I stop. Walk over to stand next to her. I too look at the shoes.
“Hi,” I say.
She sounds well spoken.
I turn to face her – so now we’re perpendicular to each other. “This may be a silly question. But when did you last eat?”
She turns to look right at me then, as if I’m the one that needs to be checked out? She has the bluest clearest eyes since Paul Newman in The Towering Inferno. There are raindrops on her lashes.
“A while ago” she says.
“I’ll help you.” I say. I don’t know why, I’m regretting it already.
She looks sideways as if she’s checking out her escape route.
I quell an urge to reach out. I’m already thinking how I’ll tell Darren about this – it’ll be a good ice-breaker.
“Look,” I say – “It’s up to you.”
This is so unlike me. I am usually pretty street-wise.
There’s quite a big pause.
“I’m not to talk to strangers.” she says, and looks back at the shoes, and with that I start to feel like dog dirt. I mean it’s like she’s dismissed me.
“Well, sod off then,” I say, “I was only trying to be nice.”
“I was going to give you some money,” I say to her side-view.
“I hope you starve to death.” And then I’m running. And I’ll have that muffin whatever. I’ll get Darren one too. And I’ll get there before him.
So I keep on running.
It was nice to see Darren. And he was really interested to hear about my research. Just sat and listened, eating his muffin, didn’t tell me about his wheat allergy until much much later. He had certainly gone to seed – that was abundantly obvious. But. Yeah – People called it whirlwind but we went way back: had been to the same parties; parents had been in the same car pool. That all counts for a lot.
Why was that an example? Example of what?
No, you’ve got it wrong: it’s a stream of conscience, not consciousness. I’d have thought you’d know that.
You think there’s a lot of detail? Well of course I remember – we did get married, after all.
Do you really need to ask about children? Have a look at this figure! It never came up.
You need a good body in the business in the selling of beauty products. It’s not for everyone – my true calling, discovered it after the honeymoon – and we both like our holidays.
Oh – I just saw you looking at your watch. I was just getting started. You want me to get my diary out? I don’t think so – You’d be wasting my time. It’s a case of facing the obvious isn’t it? Darren never liked make-up. Never approved of me finding myself. Next time I’ll do better. I’ll catch some hunk’s eye. Perhaps I’ll holiday in Hollywood? Here – my card – have you looked in a mirror recently? I can take years off.
© Nadia Kingsley 2016