Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The killing fields in the corner shop and East Coker

Apologies for the gap in posting I have been up to my eyes, and it is along way up to my eyes, in novel rewrites, birthday joy and general work stuff.

I ran out of sugar the other night and went up to my local corner shop which has been run by Mr Fazel for years. I used to pop out for milk late at night and Mr Fazel would be there behind the counter listening to the cricket on a tiny radio. A few years later I pop out for bread late at night and there is Mr Fazel’s son on his stool behind the counter watching cricket on a small portable TV perched in the corner. So this week, a few years later I pop out for a bag of sugar and there is Mr Fazel’s teenage grandson behind the counter busy playing some X box Game that seems to involve being dressed in army combat gear and creeping round in alleys shooting other people creeping round in alleys in combat gear. He can manage to serve me,talk and give me the correct change whilst still avoiding death in a dark alley. I ask him if he gets killed a lot. “No I’m good at this, I kill more people than I get killed but I'm useless at the cricket game Granddad got me." I am relieved to know he plays cricket now and then, albeit virtually.

It must be a sign of the changing times, radio, to TV to X Box.
I haven’t fathomed the Wii yet, I had a go at a friend’s and it was a disaster, I flailed around at a game of tennis and seemed to hit only air which in fact is exactly what I was doing. I was quite good at tennis once, there are some advantages in height. There is something about Wii tennis that makes me feel vulnerable and not just stupid. It is like a man who is trekking across the desert who has a mirage of an oasis and throws themselves at his own delusion, running sand through their fingers as if it were water. I am the desert tennis player thrashing at air imaging the thwack, the feel of it but never quite gaining satisfaction. perhaps I should try the Wii bowling, I may be better at hurling than thwacking.

Mr Fazel’s grandson, who I have seen grow up from a baby, is better at offing virtual people with an Uzi than spin bowling.

I don’t know why but I keep thinking of a few lines in East Coker by T.S Eliot

There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter

Of course mine is some sort of feeling about small history as opposed to big history, the passage of time for a family sitting behind the counter in a corner shop, the passage of small time as I observe the family behind the counter in the corner shop. Who knows why but it just made me sad to see the little corner shop come to the killing fields. As the two famous lines from that poem go

In my beginning is my end.
In my end is my beginning.

No comments: