Thursday, 10 November 2011

I Met Jean-Paul Sartre Before The Day Went Downhill

Today started well then went downhill. I don’t know why ‘downhill’ should be synonymous with a worsening day, although, yes, it’s obviously better to be ‘up’ than ‘down’ in the common usage of those words, but regarding hills, in my experience as a cyclist, going down them is much preferable. As a rambler too.

You see I was high on James Blood Ulmer’s ‘Tales Of Captain Black’ album early this morning, having reacquainted myself with it after many years, when I should have paid heed to Mark Twain’s suggestion that ‘if you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day’. But from the summit of James Blood Ulmer I was destined to go ‘downhill’, not rapidly, but very slowly. In fact, I didn’t start going down until around 1 this afternoon because the morning was good.

First I met Jean-Paul Sartre at the Renoir cafĂ© in Kentish Town. Inside they were playing Billy Holiday whilst I sat out at a table swilling nicotine down my gullet with a good cappuccino. I didn’t close my eyes, but instead went into a reverie based around the absurd notion that it was almost chic to be sat outside a cafe called The Renoir whilst they played Jazz, almost, because Kentish Town is not similar to La Rive Gauche, in case you didn’t know. But it became Paris of the 40s in my mind, and along came JPS. I said ‘Bonjour!’ He said ‘Toutes le actions humaines sont equivalents et elles sont toutessur le principe vouee a l’echec’ (‘All human actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure’). He can be a miserable bastard. I bought him a coffee. He said he’d met Charlie Parker recently. Parker said to him: ‘I like your playing very much.’ Ha! Can you believe that? JP tinkles the ivories now and again but I don’t think that’s what Bird was referring to. Then he told me that Juliette had introduced Miles Davis to him. Show off. Then Simone (de Beauvoir) came along, saying to him ‘Viens salaud paresseux que nous avons un magazine a editer!’ (‘Come on you lazy bastard we’ve got a magazine to edit!). And off they went. And I came back to reality, which was Kentish Town, me alone at the table – Charlie Parker, JPS, Simone, and Miles all dead.

Still, I went on to scour the charity shops having bought the latest edition of The Wire – still feeling good, despite not finding much. Came home, read some of The Wire, then...and then...a kind ennui began to creep over me...a paralysis, if you will, whereby I spent time checking Twitter and Facebook, realising that my friends were not saying much, and I had nothing to I thought I’d watch a film (‘Made In U.S.A’), but the DVD-playing facility refused to work. Try again. Nothing. Try again. Nothing. And the nothingness, or to be precise, the black screen interrupted only by the faintest of flickers, seemed to mirror the state of my mind in which there was nothing but blackness with faintly flickering ideas which never really fully materialised.

So the day passed. And darkness fell.

I wish I’d eaten a frog to start with.

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