Saturday, 21 July 2012

Working Title. Thats what I'll call it.

I carry a notepad.
A moleskine.
Is that too pretentious?

I carry a notepad. I have lots of them. So many that notes get lost. Sometimes I even carry a pen too. My notepads are legion. there are ratty old spiral-bound ones, measurements, stains, sketches, lists, recipes, stories. Most of my stories never make it out to paper, most never make it out to anywhere, they stay in my head, crumble, decay, and are gone, overwritten, forgotten, fragments of sentences, sometimes whole words and letters,  or maybe just a crushed ampersand in the dust. Were it ever to happen that a pathologist scooped out my brain, I'm sure beneath it would be all the leaked words, stories, dreams.

Today, this morning, I had to go out to the phone shop, yet again. That's a saga in itself.
Afterward I found a cafe, sat on a leatherette bench, looking out at the world and at the other customers. Across the cafe, in another bench/table/bench booth, was a young woman with her two small children. She had a laptop open, and was obviously trying to concentrate, as her children swarmed over her.

I was fascinated. They weren't loud raucous kids, they were inquisitive, experimentative, I can't guess the age, maybe two or three, maybe twins? One slightly bigger than the other, girl and boy, the girl slightly bigger. Clean, neat, moderately affluent, the thing that struck me was that there were no boundaries between them, like puppies in a heap, they squeezed into the space between her and the wall, tried to climb over her back behind her neck, and she grabbed the clamberer, hushed and repositioned it, without taking her right hand from the keyboard, nor her eyes from the screen. They clambered over her thighs, played with her hair, tipped over a sippy-cup, tried to poke a straw in her mouth.
At all this, she seemed unperturbed, quietly coping, looking around a curly head as it blew bubbles against her neck.
Nothing they did seemed to faze her. I'm, of course, sitting there with my coffee, yes, coffee, not tea, though tea is my default beverage, and scribbling, drawing, trying to write something completely else, trying to concentrate on a zillion things I need to get done, but which slip through my fingers like greased piglets, not that I've ever actually encountered a greased piglet.
I'm trying to look as though I'm the sort of person who sits in coffee emporia and knows what all the things listed on the menu board are. I'm always totally humiliated when I try to order.  Still, unlike the 'barista', a sternly goateed young man, who's probably studying Nietsche, I do know who Starbuck was.

Here's an interesting digression. I always digress, y'know, I'm doing it right now, digressing from my digression. And that's why I'll never ever complete my novel, (apart from the fact that I never started writing it). Where was I?. Oh yes digressing, Starbuck, oh.
The first Hawaiian royalty to visit London.   King Kamehameha and Queen Kamamalu. They travelled to London on a whaling ship, captained by Valentine Starbuck.
I don't recall where or when I learned all this stuff, but the sad gist of Kamehameha's story was that, just like Pocahontas, he died.
The Hawaiians had no defence against measles, and that once-common childhood disease killed their king and queen.
Anyway, Starbuck. I'm not sure if he was the one who Melville based the first mate of the 'Pequod' upon.
Something I didn't know, and just learned, whilst looking up Kamehameha's name's proper spelling, is that the captain of the royal naval vessel tasked to return the bodies of the king and queen to Hawaii, had consulted with Captain Starbuck upon sailing directions, and Starbuck had mentioned an uncharted island and plotted its position. The captain, George Anson Byron, charted the island, in the Kiribati group, and named it "Starbuck Island"

Meanwhile, the small girl makes a grab at mummy's top, pulling at her shirt, and as she grabs, a breast pops out. Pale and rounded, ripe fruit, with dark areola and upright nipple. Mother calmly scoops it back into the briefly revealed pink bra, does that settling jiggle, and... I'm busted. She looks up, catches my eye. I pretend I didn't notice but I'm blushing. More embarassed than she is.

I'm thinking though, of the way the children  see no boundary whatsoever between themselves and her, I'm musing on motherhood, and how my own lady's kids are, though much older, forever as much a part of her. How its understood without words that the bond is absolute. They're growing up, starting to fly free, but where it matters, there's no distance between them. You can disagree with them, get mad at them, but they know, when it comes to it, there's always forgiveness, always love, always closeness.

I think of children, how they start, completely part of their mother, how they take over her body and mind as they gestate, how totally reliant they are when born, how that bond is created. They've been part of her body on the inside, then they cling to it to suckle and sleep, how fearful they are when she passes out of sight, how her reappearance is what they need. I'm a man, I have no children, I've no claim to any of this, I'm an observer from the outside.
The woman in the coffee shop.
Maybe she thinks I was ogling her and staring at her boobs.
I was envying her.


  1. What drove me to read your blog today I cannot say. Why I continued when I felt the flesh being carved from my bones I am equally clueless. I only know that when you are penning your own creation you have me at your feet. I could read you on and on.

    When I began reading Max's blog I recall he posted something about colored trains and my responding demanding a word problem. You came behind me with the most charming bit of flash fiction. I was hooked.

    Write your book! Move mountains if you must but write and write and write. Don't stop; don't look back. Pour yourself out for us.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Anonymous, I suspect I'll never get it together, because I'm so easily distracted. And I read so much, good books, bad books, indifferent books. It seems presumptuous to attempt to add to all the books already out there.

      Whereas, the blog? most of the time it's not writing, just making a noise.

  2. This is so 'you' Soubriquet. It is exactly how you speak with the twists and turns, side roads taken, digress upon digress - but with intent. It is also quite intimate. You are sharing a small slice of the inner you, your thoughts, your feelings. I've always known you to be a keen observer of life and the world around you. This is .... empathetic in its understanding of mothers and children. It is exactly why I turn to you when I feel so lost mothering my own brood. A book of these vignettes I would buy and cherish.

    Now .... I'm off to Starbucks hoping for an erotic moment ...


    1. ps. Your last line slays me.

    2. If I have two readers, willing to splash out a penny for my thoughts, maybe I'd better get to work.

      I'm never so sure what I understand of anything, I like to observe, make up possible stories to fill the unknown spaces. I like -glimpses, glimpses of people's lives, their realities. I like to read, to see the world through other eyes, different perspectives.

      Starbucks, is better at coffee than erotic moments. The concept is good, but the relentless global branding makes every one strangely soul-less.

  3. Flesh-carving and slaying?

    Ladies, you overestimate my inner Genghis Khan.

    1. I retract 'slay' lest I be lumped in with flesh-carving commentators. Suffice to say that without the last sentence, it's only a nice piece of writing.


  4. My buddy Ricky Don, he picks up chicks at Starbucks like you wouldn't believe.
    I hope that doesn't ruin it for you, but its true.
    I love this story too, I love stories that meander like this one. and while you don't see the ending coming, its the ending that makes the story. And if you are like me, these kind of ending justseem to fall out of your head, without having really planned them. I like it when that happens.
    Great story Soub, great finish!

    1. Thing is, Bulletholes, I don't know where it's going either, I just go along with it too.

    2. Thats the best kind. Start out writing about one thing, and end up somewhere else entirely.


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