During an expedition with Dr Scarpone I ended up in a closing bookshop. One of my purchases was Alan Silitoe’s Birthday. Years ago - early sixties- I read his Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, stunned by its raw vitality, the vibrant lingo, its sexuality and the values that carried the story. I didn’t realize I had just picked up its sequel. 40 years later Alan Sillitoe is still concerned with masculinity and social justice (maybe class is the better word), yet it is all about change, reflecting the changing Zeitgeist and incomprehension of the younger generations. This book is “human”, anti-authoritarian with its freethinking and non-religious brand of thoughts. He gave me with this book an acceptance of aging, death and physical decay. On this melancholy rainy grey Sunday I talked to Rockcastle about the book & ravage of time in ourselves and that the conclusion of his stoic and funny review of life was a defiant ‘Life goes on’: You live in order to create memories. By the way: the novel is situated in Nottingham, officially the drunkest city in the UK. A few quotes:
- Brian slewed much of his pint, to keep up with his brothers. He wiped his mouth, then speculated on whether the amount of spunk he had shot in his life would have been enough to drown in. Maybe the ink he had used was a safer bet for suicide. Gallons of both, but neither death was tempting. The collective of matches struck for fires and cigars could have made a tree from which to hang himself, though he’d only ever thought of such an end to scorn himself out of doing it. Every morning he mainlined ink from a fat Mont Blanc into his upper arm, one side one day and the other the next, at which notion they laughed, as did he.
- There had to be more in life than talking to someone with no common bridge.
- People preferred overwhelming noise to quiet thoughts that would drive them insane, not knowing that only silence enabled you to be yourself.
- He saw black faces here and there, ore someone wearing a Moslem pillbox hat, or turban, though he’d noticed that when such people opened their mouths the accent was often as Nottingham as the rest, language a perfect mixer.
- Not even God controlled life and death, so any support would be feeble, though better than nothing.
- … the girl he had so intimately known turned into an unfamiliar old woman.
- His passport was always up to date, though he occasionally panicked that it might not be, and pulled into the next layby or petrol station to fumble through his wallet.
- I am sure it’s this bombing of Yugoslavia. I just can’t believe it. They should have spend all the billions dropping TVs and washing machines, then the people would have stopped killing each other to get at them. Or they could drop a million mobile phones so’s people could start talking. That Blair’s a real prat. Bombing hospitals and orphanages – it’s cruel. And all they can do at home is cut benefits for the disabled.
- Hard to say whether he went to her or she to him, but they stood in the middle of the room for a kiss which had all the passion of their early meetings. The only excuse he could find for not getting her to the floor and fucking her was that the scorched infant he suddenly turned into wouldn’t allow him to get a hard on, and when one came he saw panic on her face in case he tried. It was equally hard to know who broke away first, their pressing lips no more, after all, than a sign of days long gone.
Clowns from Amsterdam
7 years ago