Wednesday, 31 October 2007


This tug, some invisible fibre has grown into his flesh, or some fishhook latched there that yanks and yanks him along; or because there is a pressure inside him that hurries him on, a packed straining bladder, say, as you dash along the pavement eyeing every door for access to a toilet. The fidgets: the tapping feet, the fingers fumbling over his own face like a blind artlover apprehending sculpture as best he can; turning and folding and releasing his lower lip between finger and thumb; tugging his nose; rolling the flesh upon which his eyebrows grow and plucking hairs from it; pinching his own cheeks; rubbing the back of his neck, exploring the roots of his hair all the way back over his broad head. Nor would it be true to say that this is a pressure that never relents. Sometimes the impatience recedes. Sex, for instance, is a usually-reliable machine for transmuting fidgety impatience into temporary calm. He may even look at the ceiling, as the sweat cools on his skin and soaks into the Egyptian cotton, and realise that he is calm: almost a startling thing, almost a shock, excepting only that it figures as some sort of anti-shock, an discharge and decoupling.

And his head is so large, larger than a usual head. You'd think his head large enough to splinter the neck bones should it sag at a sudden angle. But his head, though bigger than average, is light; the wide brow and the wideset eyes that looked estranged from one another, the shallow-U chin that scintillates grey in the sunlight, the global curve of his cranium, all this is built upon a skull made of sinus-bone and aluminium. Because the head bounces, because the head bounces about on its neck, and is always in motion, and his expression is always mobile, and his smile comes and goes, and his broad brow wrinkles like a pond troubled by a sharp breeze and then untroubles itself and is again smooth. Why is he so impatient? It's the coffee, it's the nicotine, it's the deadlines my dear the deadlines, the so much to do, the such little time, the petty done, the undone vast, the sleep-when-I'm dead, or not even then, for he moves through this world as if rehearsing and rehearsing until it becomes second nature his repertoire of poltergeist shufflings and bangings and spectral fidgetings.

People say he is always in a hurry, and that's the least of it, hardly expresses the way impatience goes down into his bones, down into the restless iron inside the scrumhappy red flood of red-blood corpuscules, all the very way down into his galumphing great unresting endlessly fitting heart. He is walking, now, though he keeps his limbs oddly straight; and he illustrates perfectly the maxim that to walk is to coordinate a string of expertly interrupted fallings-forward.

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