Over the past week, the ex and I have worked through all the boxes of books in the back shed at her place, sorting out the books for sale. Yesterday, we were finally down to the last box of personal papers. The big one. So we spent the afternoon sorting through those, while we waited for the cool change to arrive. We had the radio on too, so we could keep up with the progress reports on the pile-up in the Burnley tunnel. But I don't propose to write about that now - 't'ain't fittin'.
I wasn't up to much cognitively, so I confined my work to the heavy lifting and the paper shredding, while Helga did the sorting. As I sat beside the shredder, feeding in the old bank statements, tax returns before the year 2000 and other accumulated personal records, I realised that what I was shredding was the entire official record of my life with Helga. And it didn't bother me one bit.
Statements from our long closed joint bank account? Into the shredder - zip. Mortgage statements from the time we were paying off the matrimonial home - zip. Old pay-slips from my time in the public service - zip. All those adverse performance reports - zip. Timesheets and invoices from my IT contracting days - zip. Useless, bureaucratic detritus, the lot of it.
All that survived were the personal papers - old aborted diaries, old aborted short stories and notebooks which I'll now have to go through. Because there's some good stuff in there, and with all the notepaper that's been turned up, and that fountain pen I've recovered (and a new bottle of Quink), I reckon it's worth taking another crack at the creative stuff. Certainly, this opening paragraph deserves another workout:
Mum once told Dad that she was going to kill him. It was in the middle of one of their arguments. I didn't hear it at first, because she said it real quiet, but then Dad said "What did you say?" It was loud and threatening, and I could imagine him leaning into her face as he said it, like you do when the little kids tell you you're a bastard, but really quiet, because they don't really want you to hear. So you ask them what they f**king said, and they yell it at you, and you have to hit them again, to put them in their place...
There's more, but it gets pretty ugly. Later today, I might just sit down and start the whole thing again in longhand, to see if I can feel my way back into the mood of the piece, and all that writerin' stuff. Something good might be happening today, because there's another little idea nudging at the back of my brain saying "write me, come on, write me".
At the end of the afternoon, we sat back with a cup of coffee each and I had a quick look through one of the aborted diaries and read a couple of excerpts to Helga, over the radio reports. They were fairly typical diary crap:
I've just seen an advertisement on the TV for a recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons performed by I Musici: "Available for the first time from Polygram." What do they mean by this?
Helga (after watching an advertisement for "Huggies" disposable nappies): What's wrong with flannel? We're going to have flannel aren't we ...
Helga: ... when we're old and incontinent.
In one of his Seymour stories, Salinger quotes Seymour as saying "Life is a journey from one sacred place to another." It's incomplete - I'd add then another, and another and so on. Right now, I'm between sacred places.
That's just typical blogging crap.