Sometimes, when I am trying to write a few, brief sentences in Italian, dialogues come to mind. Dialogues between some version of myself and a woman. This woman is a composite, generated by my need be in relation to a woman, not a composite from my memories of actual women, but a composite of imagined suggestions, perhaps unremembered suggestions from movies, radio, tv or novels. This composite with her variety of voices needs the challenge of actually living, breathing, speaking women in order for me to be made real, to create forms of self in muscle and energy.
Anyway, let me get back to these dialogues. This non-woman is generally angry, not necessarily at me, but is sharply assertive, shouting instructions of some sort or another. The fact is I often have little sense of what I am doing, what I should be doing, or even how to go about my daily life, except by default, by habit, and at the same time I’m aware that I have no internal judgement as to whether I am doing well or badly . . . how would I know?
I caught a tv program on BBC4 recently about Andre Previn and became fascinated with this quick trip through the seventies and into the eighties. It was shocking to see the that the orchestras were only manned, there were no women in sight. When did women begin to appear in orchestras? Certain times are also transition times, or perhaps all times have a transitional aspect. There was the social democratic consensus of post-war Britain that survived into the seventies, the seventies in which we believed we were in the process of developing that social democratic assumption. Little did we know that a monster was about to be unleashed, the wild, uncontainable god of the market.
Growing up in that social democratic dream I thought it would go on for ever and got on with my life as best I could, seeking work and freedom. But stuff happens as we all know, I was left in 1992 to be a single dad, the father of a wonderful three year old daughter, after her mum died of cancer at the age of 40. I largely gave up work, left London, moved to Devon and concentrated on being a parent. What now? Sort of retired but still having the energy to work . . . But at what? I have little money, I write a bit but have given up any pretensions as to my writing being publishable, and I study Italian, walk, bicycle, and practice yoga, meditation. And most importantly talk.
I come back again to this angry woman who knows what she wants, has little patience with my procrastinating habits . . . But hang on, I could say, “fuck that”, I think, there’s a mocking grin, perhaps a knowing wink, barely visible . . . This is me saying it: just take your time, forms of self are being woven . . . Somewhere close by. And she? She seems quite happy with that, after all she has a life to lead.