Today was pretty much a mad rush, as we were rushing to make plans for an upcoming meeting, and I was preparing questions for an interview. In fact, work isn’t finished for the day, and here is a little respite of writing before I continue later, but thankfully with the more comfortable setting of my home worktable and a warm purring cat.
Perhaps it was the influence of my current read- Kate Atkinson’s Not the End of the World – which inspired a rather bizarre dream last night, featuring Bright Young Things in modern age, and trimmed in Chanel with familiar boys with velvet chic bows. I recall the dream commenced with me being drawn up by thoughts that it was a good friend D’s birthday, and between oriental walls and modern buildings, emerged in a neo-classical sort of condominium restaurant setting – with each restaurant overdrawn in some sort of decadent theme. A place for beautiful envy. I sort of streamed into my seat with D opposite, in a starch white blouse and a neat sailor sort of blue bow – but not the typical ribbony dandy type of bow, but something thin and fluid, not alike anything I had ever seen before (why is the memory of the bow on the blouse one of the most vivid images I recall?) He pointed me to his mother, who was seated next to his two sisters (note D has a brother and vivacious mother, but no one else in real life) who were little images of Hilton best friends in their violet toga dresses, the mother a sweet young affair in a luxe white blouse with a pattern of quiet French lace, her hair pinned up in a side twirl bun and D’s friend chorusing that I would not be able to tell D’s mother from his sister (I was not) and the conversation was lively over lemon meringue pie. (Was this memory suspiciously like the American restaurant I used to visit with J for steak and mashed potatoes?)
At some moment, something struck me of D’s father addressing me from behind- and he was suave, young and debonair – a BYT too small for his big velvet chair, and he was speaking of his son and how he simply felt Dolman when he was waiting for his child… and thoughts danced in my mind as he spoke and I was living in some place some otherwhere.
It was a nice sort of dream, surrounding by people and pictures and sounds of clinking champagne glasses, with familial stories. It was a birthday story dream. But what I loved most about it was that it felt somehow different, like a certain chapter of character speech of an Evelyn Waugh novel.
Not the End of the World is a decidedly terrific book, the kind you return to in your secret moments, the kind you ponder and muse over when you are hugging your cat, the sort of novel that throws up plots of seeming incredulity which makes so much sense when you sit down and try to piece together the parts. At one point, the conversation between two of the girls reminded me of you, Beansprouts, and how I secretly loved the fantasy, and would go back to a mention of Wolfkin, if you planted the thought in my mind, like a secret seed raging in butterfly wing colours.
I love the way all her short stories twist and weave into each other, how she writes about creatures and their idiosyncracies and their fantasies, and how she really understands how I feel about cats.
I love the way she traces influences and Matildas…and how her obsessive her characters are, and how the things they do and thoughts they wander about leave them some place between ground and air.
I love the way when she talks about a baguette or a wine, she has to go into seven expressions of having a baguette, and of the little sighs and interruptions that accentuate the little impulsive beauty of her characters.
I love the way I see her stories as pictures dancing in my mind. I possibly love this most of all.
I’m moving to expressionist reads next. Be prepared to have bits of depressive lines next on the blog…and maybe I’ll add a little of my favourite parts from Kate Atkinson.