Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Diana Slickman 2010

I picked a quote more or less at random from The Medusa Frequency this year. It was at the top of the Hoban pile for no particular reason. Here's what I wrote out on to the yellow paper for this year's SA4QE:

It was between six and seven in the morning. The moon was low in the sky. It was a waxing moon, a gibbous one; it was a particular moon. I raised the window-blind. The pinky-orange hibiscus street lamp outside the window was the same as always. I opened the front door and went out into the foredawn, into the hissing of the silence and the humming of the underground trains standing empty with lighted windows on the far side of the common. Unseen birds twittered but there was no crow to shout and flaunt its blackness.

I heard my footsteps; I saw under the lamps my shadows first before me, then behind. 'Nothing to declare,' I said.

I crossed the common and headed down to the New King's Road. The Belisha beacons clicked as they blinked in the coldness of the morning. Cars at intervals hissed past me, in each one a face as questionable as the faces on the tin windows of toy cars from Japan. The shops stood like sleeping horses.

The lamps on Putney Bridge were still lit, the bridge stood in simple astonishment over the water, a stonelike creature of overness, of parapets and ghostly pale cool tones of blue, of grey, of dim whiteness in the foredawn with its lamps lit against a sky growing light. Far below lay the river; slack-water it was, turn of the tide, the low-tide river narrow between expanses of mud, the moored boats rocking on the stillness.

A sort of singing filled my head; it seemed an aspect of the particles of light and colour that made in my eyes the picture of this time just before dawn. I thought of the dew on the grass where the olive tree stood. There seemed to be a question on the air.

'Yes,' I said, 'I will.' I spoke aloud because I wanted my answer to be recorded on the early air.

At the bottom I wrote:

- from The Medusa Frequency
by Russell Hoban

This paper was placed here on 2/4/10 as part of a world-wide celebration of Russell Hoban's birthday. Your finding it and reading it is part of the party.

I folded this up to about two inches square, wrote "SA4QE" on the outside and put it in my pocket. Left the office. I had an errand I had to run; I went to The Spice House in Evanston, not far from my office. I had to get refills for my empty bottles of ground cumin, chili powder, and red-and-black pepper. The Spice House is a wonderful place, but it quickly overwhelms me with all the possibilities - all the things that could be made with all the spices and herbs and extracts and salts and peppers. When I leave, I leave a little sad that I'm not using more spices, and I leave smelling like a pumpkin pie - spicy and warm. I wandered around looking for the right place for my packet of words and finally settled on a little basket attached to the west wall of the store. In it were small, clear packets of seeds labeled "Grains of Paradise". I nestled my yellow packet among the clear ones and drifted off to make my purchases. Went back to the office. And back to work.

Happy birthday, Russ!

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