I was watching a pan of spaghetti boil one evening pondering Haruki Murakami's liking for these pale golden strands of durum wheat when there was an almighty thump on the ceiling. Those bloody kids! I grumbled, why can't their parents get them to play quietly? Is it too much to ask? No consideration! The same goes for those who run their washing machines late at night, bang windows and doors, or naturally have heavy footfalls. The joys of communal living. Twenty-first century flat dwelling.
complaints were something of a monologue that mirthless evening. A
speech I made where I was the speaker and the audience. Reclusive
people do like to talk to themselves. Reason and rant, hold debates
with themselves and fictional interviewers, or bite back at live TV
and radio presenters. They have a burning need to rationalise their
opinions even if the words they speak will only be heard by their own
me, it can be quite exhausting. A distraction to pass dark winter or
long summer evenings. One thought leads to another, which can either
be like an invigorating morning hike or a gentle promenade after
cooking water frothed, my thoughts belly-flopped to wondering when my
threshold for background noise had become so low. Too sensitive to
sensory information that's your trouble, I told myself, as really
these flats are well insulated. You rarely hear other people's
televisions or stereos. Hmm, but that's just luck, I ventured back to
it goes, this game of tennis. One voice mutters a view and the other
volleys back a reply. Sometimes I refuse to start play altogether.
Play is rained off , the court covered over until I feel like
reasoning or ranting aloud.
prefer playing tennis to chess. Squash is too violent! And ten pin
bowling is only for when you want to smash fanciful, largely
impractical ideas; give yourself a good talking to and bring yourself
down from a sea of clouds. Sometimes dreams are just dreams, a pearl
you'll never see emerge from an oyster. Not all dreams are meant to
materialise, the pearl is not the prize, it's the anticipation.
Actually living the dream is rarely the same as it is in your
all bravado and banter. Ten pin bowling is grounding. Chess is
intellectually agonising. Deceitfully strategic. A game drags on
forever and no side is ever completely satisfied with the outcome.
It's militant: new thoughts ambush you after a lengthy pause and so
the internal debate simmers, then rages. It doesn't care if it takes
you prisoner and subjects you to inhospitable conditions. A whirlpool
mind, a churning stomach, insomnia.
mind games have a way of filling in, killing time. Immersing you in a
place when time carries no weight, no meaning.
somehow play always commences on a spaghetti night. I forget to pay
attention, leaving the spaghetti to its own devices. A habit-formed
meditation. My mind drifts, but my eyes observe the straw-like
strands soften and slither into the pan. The water bubbles
furiously... Until I suddenly realise that I haven't once stirred to
prevent sticking. I grab a fork and swish the rubbery spaghetti in
the steamy water. Nowhere near al dente and I just caught some
clumping. A lucky save! Don't you just hate eating lumps of gluey
pasta? Four minutes more and it will transform into pale, soft
strings to be sucked up with a satisfying slurp or looped round the
prongs of a fork. Add a little oil, lemon and black pepper, and some
jazz, and there you have it, your own Murakami dining experience.
can you go in bringing an author's art to your real life?
you see, I fully expect to receive a mysterious telephone call from a
woman with very neat ears to ruin my spaghetti night.