Grey noon. It wants to snow but cannot, because there is no longer a tradition of snow in London. What you see in Hugh Grant movies isn’t strictly true. I look at the sky, and it seems to be filling up with some sort of grain—but it isn’t snow.
Good news on the camera front: I managed to turn it on! Turning anything or anyone on in these grainy times is an achievement. I also managed to tell the camera what day it is and the time down to the very minute. Already the little device is awash with information. With its newly-minted memory it now has a grasp of time that no human child under 6 years old could have. Lying in its digital cradle, clicking occasionally for reassurance, the camera carries with it years, days, and minutes in ways that will flee our dying minds. We enter eternity with no idea what time it is. This is, frankly, as it should be. Imagine gliding onto the checkered courtyard of infinity and asking your fellow souls what time it is—or better still, telling them; hootsville, dude.
However, I couldn’t get the camera’s LCD (Licked Clean Destiny?) to display the same picture of the husky that it displays in the instruction manual. Instead, a grainy image of my window appeared, followed by a fierce amber light that illuminated my desk for a second and was gone. Then I realized that my shirt and trousers needed washing, and I shuffled downstairs to send them off in the washing machine with my other dirty clothes. I’m now wearing a pair of olive green trousers that I haven’t worn before. Like the camera, the trousers will have to find their feet. Then they will start to have my scent and the cat will sit on them.
So it will take too long to work out how to photograph the husky, to make it worth trying today. Michèle is fond of huskies and may have one with her when she returns from her studio, which will make it easier once I’ve figured out how to take pictures. By then, of course, my camera may become overconfident; for it will be endowed, at the operating age of only a few hours, with the gift of capturing likenesses and telling the time. Then it might learn to prophesy and give counseling: “It’s going to snow outside (YOUR NAME HERE), you should take your coat. And try to see that this is Miriam’s way of telling you she loves you.”
Talent fosters talent, so the camera may next start dribbling music and calling up my friends at random to apologize for not e-mailing them. Michèle, meanwhile, though it would gladden her heart to wield a husky, might actually prefer to start with a gerbil. In which case, no dog for y’all tomorrow. …
Learning something new is difficult. All sorts of issues bubble to the surface. My father was very good at reading instructions, because he came from a precise military background. But he also had a powerful imagination. When it came to him explaining things to me, I would always switch off and imagine instead—because it was easier. This would aggravate my father, who in turn would overexplain whatever he was trying to communicate, which would make me dig my heels in and retreat even more from what he was saying.
Over the years, I have switched off when confronted by instructions of many kinds. Turn left, then second right, then get lost, then ask, then navigate by the sun, then follow your appetite, then follow your bladder, then follow your conscience. Insert the sim-card into the jim-card, boot up your memory, it’s easy, it’s just like this, just listen to me, listen to me damn you.
It’s no good, I can’t hear you, I’m sorry, I don’t want to hear you. Nobody wants to listen. Why do you think therapy is so popular? If God had wanted us to listen, She’d have made us all into therapists.