Thursday, February 26, 2009

playing

Last week, half term, on my way to the Tate Modern to meet up with my writing partner, I saw this altered sign in a housing estate..


...and it made me laugh...


... and then a bit further on, I stood and looked at this office building, trying to imagine what it might be like to work in there. There was someone looking out of one of the windows. No, not looking. Really staring. You can see him in the middle of the bottom row of windows...



So I turned round to see what that gripped him so intensely. And it was this cricket match ....




... for a few minutes, I watched these boys play on one of the few bits of scrap land still not developed along the South Bank, thinking how great it would be if everyone from the office block suddenly walked out of their work and joined in the game.

But my daydreams started to feel too much like the storyboard of an ad to me - maybe one for coca-cola or even worse, a four wheel drive car - and that made me cross so I walked on.

But for the rest of the day, I kept thinking about those boys playing. And then I got how I could write the story. I was thinking too big. It wasn't the whole bunch of office workers coming out, but just one. Not even the staring one either. But the one on the floor above. The one who tries a bit too hard at the Christmas party. The one who buys his wife an African violet every birthday and she's never had the nerve to tell him she hates them. How every time she waters the forest of violets she has now she fantasies punching him in the face. He plays cricket with the boys, not knowing they want to punch him in the face either, for ruining their game. Taking it over with his rules and competitiveness. He is just enjoying his moment of freedom, just as he enjoys thinking about how much his wife loves purple. Loves how he is giving her a cloud of purple in every room in their house. He'll tell her about this, he thinks, when he gets home. He'll be boyish, cute as he watches her water the African violets. I couldn't help it, he'll say, you know me. Meanwhile the staring man on the ground floor is watching him, wanting to punch him in the face too for spoiling his own little fantasy.

And my sound track for writing this is Neko Case, and John Saw That Number, in particular. And what's strange is that Neko Case makes me feel quite mellow always, which is why I like her in the morning, but I seem to have got fixated about punching people in the face. Perhaps better to duck if you come across me today ...

3 comments:

SueG said...

Ach, the proto-story is already heartbreaking....

Sarah Salway said...

It's all right, Sue. See the cricket-playing violet man is going to fall over and break his leg. The office watching man will spot this, run out and take him to hospital, where he will meet the wife. They will fall madly in love and run off to live in Orkney where they will live with no pot plants, no office windows and definitely no punching. The violet man though, will stay at that office window looking out at the cricket playing wasteland which has now become another office building, and he'll be a bit sad, until one day he looks across at the other office building and there a woman is sitting, carefully watering an African violet on her desk, and well...

SueG said...

Oh thank you, thank you. Now I can rest! And I was just going to write again anyway because..I've been looking over my blog and saw that I have neglected to list you all this time. Yikes! Mea culpa! Sorry. All fixed now, though :-(

PS One day I'd like you to give me plot-making lessons. Ugh. I'm so rubbish.