I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 31 December 2012

The awful skeleton of truth

At three in the morning, two days before Christmas, flashing blue lights outside woke us. Outside our neighbour’s an ambulance and a car had been hurriedly and awkwardly parked. Later we were told Geoff had died of lung cancer.

Geoff and Wendy moved in five years ago. I lent him my aluminium double-ladder and from then on “Good mornings.” and Christmas cards were exchanged. This is how, to the horror of many Americans, Brits endure propinquity in the suburbs.

Last night, when Zach arrived, I noticed strong winds had blown over our outdoor Christmas tree. I re-erected it and it blew over again. Eventually, in my PJs and my new fleece dressing gown, I tied the top of the tree to the wall.

Zach is here for the Hereford panto, VR’s treat. He entered my office this morning at 7.30, half an hour earlier than had been agreed. Breakfast time for him. Two Weetabixes swimming in milk (my anti-milk hand trembled, doing this), a small carton of apple juice and a satsuma. I also turned on the downstairs telly for him, sound almost inaudible. As I returned to my office I saw the tree had remained upright.

One reason I persisted with the tree is because its flickering light might, conceivably, have been a nighttime reassurance of normalcy for Wendy, alone in her house. It might, but never in a million reasons would I have pre-rationalised such an idea. I am up here writing fiction and that, if ever I saw it, is fictional reasoning. I am desperately sorry for Wendy and will, I hope, attend the funeral. But I re-erected the tree because the lights look good at night.
Fiction, by definition, is not truth. It handles truth, but fictively.


  1. I'm tend to think those small, barely thought-out, attentive actions which seem like the best thing to do at the time and very gently confirm one's presence, like straightening the Christmas tree, combine as much to make the world slightly better, or at least no worse, as all the grander, showier doings-of-good.

    Hope Zach and VR enjoy the panto, and all the best to you all for the New Year.

  2. Sorry, that 'I'm' should have been a simple 'I'. Or else 'tend' should have been'inclined'.

  3. Lucy: Over-compressed to the point of incoherence - that's me not you. I had broken off from the final thousand words of Blest Redeemer where every string must be tied off and yet not seem so. The height of fictional (ie, artificial) invention and that motive for the lights arrived with much other stuff, subsequently discarded. I appreciate the fact that you made sense of it. Very.

  4. Christmas would not be Christmas without the intrusion of the sharp edge of reality. I would have done the same with the Christmas tree and for more more or less the same reasons. Hats off to you for expressing them so clearly.

  5. Gently confirming your presence, Lucy has the essence of it. I'm sure she feels better knowing that you and Mrs. R are next door if she needs you.

  6. Joe/Julia: I must make this clear. I did not consciously re-erect the tree as a signal to Wendy or anyone else. It was an idea that arrived afterwards, as part of a need to ascribe reasons to fictional characters in Blest Redeemer. And with it, another observation. I'm finding it difficult to bring together the threads in BR but not anywhere near as difficult as I routinely find bringing together the threads of real life.