Day 54

5.03: “If you can do the crossword that fast, you could work for MI5,” said the man on the tube.

He’d been watching me, I’d vaguely noticed for about 10 minutes. “Crikey,” I thought. “Am I being groomed for a life of subterfuge and many hats?” If so, it seemed a bit early in the morning, actually.

He was a pretty unlikely recruiting agent, I have to admit. Fat, in fact positively spherical, and uncomfortable, as though he  had been crammed into the carriage like a stupid cat into a bottle.

And he didn’t sound like a recruiting agent either: he was from the North East, and talked about “Thatcher,” and how the only thing he had to thank her for was inspiring a book about spying (a subject on which he was suspiciously knowledgeable – see I’d make a cracking agent, even now I’m playing their demented guessing game like a saxophone).

But he did seem to know about things before they happened. “We’re about to be held at a red signal,” he said, seconds before the train slithered to a halt somewhere North of King’s Cross.

Anyway, he got off at the next stop, parting commuters like an ocean liner steering through sheet ice. “When I get off, there’ll be a big hole,” he said, which on reflection wasn’t so staggering a prediction.

But his bluff northern charm, and casual foresight reminded me of the time Gerry Marsden warned me  to “be careful,” about half an hour before I got mugged.

How do they know? This thing is bigger than both of us.

6.55: “Nuns fret not in their convent’s narrow rooms,” cautioned Wordsworth. Or in other words: “sit fucking still.” This morning, I found myself unlocking the back door and wandering into the garden in my slippers and dressing-gown (it was cold). I hadn’t noticed it before, but every time I come to a problem in the story, I start hobbling distractedly about, thinking about life, like the guy in The Road. Notionally, I’m working through the problem, but you all know how the mind works – you start out trying to think of a good simile to describe a man wearing only one shoe, and before you know it, you’re imagining yourself, driving a rally car, making a guest appearance on the Muppet Show, conquering Europe. The key to progress here definitely lies in sitting still and trying to keep out of the garden.

~ by David Thorley on March 5, 2010.

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