Greetings from the streets of Gibraltar! I am getting a lot of requests for my 2008 book Beats Per Minute (ironically from the ladies that stop and talk to me). Ironic in that the book comprises short stories all named after songs dealing with rejection and unrequited love. An oddity in my bibliography, it was a very personal one to write over a couple of years in Cardiff and additionally Dublin. With the recent interest I thought why not reissue it and put some excerpts on the blog. So let’s start with one of my favourites from it A Lady of a Certain Age named after the Divine Comedy song of the same name.
A LADY OF A CERTAIN AGE
Not so much a rejection per sé as a disassociation. She was an odd one, an inbred of sorts. Her Mother’s origins were a north Atlantic island, a cold place of near eternal nocturne and the daylight if any, short. And in those dim lit places the people are generally warm. Nonetheless the Mother absconded after the war following her sister to Wales where she married the sister’s husband’s brother or the man who became Father in the adopted motherland where Angharad was born.
Her ancestry was vast, what else to do on an island in the middle of nowhere where the surging seas batter the walls of home and the winds rattle your doors, windows and bones, chipping away at the granite cliffs, decaying the land every waking shift. Angharad held a kindly warm grace and spoke easier than most due to her ‘certain’ age. I guess elder women thought less of the possibility of sex and the barriers were not necessarily open blindly to consequence but relaxed. She was the type of woman you see and never meet, whom you might envisage giving British Museum lectures about Indian scriptures and imagine taking afternoon tea; hence I confused myself with what the attraction could be. Even by my standards she was beyond my age bracket by some considerable distance, yet she possessed a strange allure that drew me and as far as I knew lived alone in a memoir of home overlooking the sea.
Despite her womanly elegance she could hold her own in conflict, armed by a Celtic ‘hell hath no fury’ air; an old siren luring me towards the rocks? And even though some of her frocks were distinctly akin to a Maharani’s hand me downs and not her best, she could still pass for younger in jeans and a vest. Thus she had now entered her Autumn years and just as the land changed, eroded by the elements, Angharad’s features began to fade: Her face for all its enchanting hue softly sagged at the cheeks, while the glossy flesh of her hands begun to wrinkle like blowtorched paint as her toned arms slightly flagged. Her legs were a little worn through the years that had carried her here and while her hair passed shoulder length, it struggled to retain its once worthy might in the brunette league, waning with the odd silver streak segregating the rich brown of old photographs.
We developed a kinship from our immediate conversation on travel, which she spoke of in her husky tone. It was little surprise to find that almost all this mer girls’ excursions were to islands surrounded by the cold seas. However the intellect was short lived, the pattern that dogged me not far from shore when she spotted my intrigue her ignorance commenced, bypassing myself in favour of the women’s magazine on the shelf.
A two fold pity in that no matter how interesting a woman appeared, they all succumb to pop trash at the end of the day in order to converse with their peers; and secondly that I lost someone whose company I liked. There was no malice toward her though and as my candle far from singed my finger I wasn’t gutted, more amused by the non-courtship of a non-romance. That we each seek out one we deem suitable or similar like tea-leafs floating round and round in the hope of resting somewhere content, through the drudgery of the everyday, ready and willing to accept them with open arms to our teacup kingdoms as if realised prophecies. In mine the perennial storm front rumbled on, a constant battle march into a wind less forgiving than those that breach her origin isle; the chivalry encountered a divine comedy in itself.
BEATS PER MINUTE – COMING SOON! (e-book only at the time of writing and I can only accept Stripe on Big Cartel, otherwise email me to see how I can help, Payoneer remains a possible).
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