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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Emmae Gibson 2007

You live in the country now. You lived in the country before, but this is the real thing. Mountains, stones and oceans, trees, green islands and untrodden valleys, and shortly before the 4th February you realise in panic that successful 4quating is an urban activity.

For a start, deer don’t read. Just have no idea.

Secondly, the amount of horizontal rain here lately would wash the profundities of Kleinzeit deeply underground.

Thirdly, you did bus stops last year.

Land and seascape so pristine, a shred of paper of any colour gets dirty looks from green people. Of which you are one, naturally. Yellow paper with black capitals fluttering on a tree trunk? Looks fine in a romantic movie, but you could get your name in the local newspaper; think of the ignominy in the same column as ‘Man Bites Diggs,’ you’d be ‘Woman Accused of Yellow Loitering.’

Out on the waves? Now there’s a pretty thought, a Riddley message in a bottle bobbing, bobbing. But - plastic or glass - Coke or Glenfiddich? Both death to turtles. You dare not.

So you find yourself in the city with your man, who’s always on business, the Saturday night before the Sunday 4th February morning, on the fifth floor of the Thistle Hotel, listening to the raucous voices of party-goers in the street below long after 3.a.m. In New York all you could hear were sirens; at least Glasgow still has its well-documented, human element.

You brought a carrying book, a spare paperback copy of the first Hoban you ever read. You remember another hotel, the one where you read it, how it took you by surprise on the long way home. You could throw it out of the window now and surprise someone else. Not exactly A4 in its presentation, not yellow in deed, but yellow in thought.

But no, it might hit someone and how user-friendly is that?

You go back to sleep. The yellow paper waits written and folded inside the book of surprise, with the golden words:

‘The ends of things are always present in their beginnings…. the ends are actually visible in the faces of the people with whom one begins something. There is always an early face that will be forgotten and will be seen again…. some aspect of the person that is always seen early and will inevitably be seen again, no matter how the seeing changes in between.’
from Turtle Diary

In the morning you go down to breakfast with your man and your book. You don’t leave it on your table for the waiter. You don’t leave it in the room when you check out, or at reception; no, she’s not the one. By now you’re getting desperate. You’ve failed to 4quate, you’ve let the team down, and soon you’ll be back in the car speeding guiltily towards useless, wide-open spaces again. Man asks if you’re okay - concerned - was it the steak last night?

You’re the one with the car park ticket and the money.

“No charge, hen,” says the man in the kiosk with the another-boring-sunday face. “Residents free!”


You pause for a second as he turns away from his little window, to yet another-sunday-paper. The car starts to slide away. You know he’s the one. You slide the book on to his window ledge, the yellow folded bookmark sticking out.

You could have said something, given it to him, explaining, but that’s not 4quating, is it?

It has to be surreptitious. More fittingly Hobanesque, for the recipient, for the bored man in the green luminous jacket, you have to give him the element of discovery, surprise, the change of face.

You’re sure he was the one.

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