I’m at home. I haven’t seen another human being all day. Pickle ate some olives. That’s my excitement for the day. I’ve barely communicated with another soul since I woke up. I paid lip service to the idea of going to a pub quiz with Mel but I neither wanted to leave the house nor go and drink booze. I wanted a full weekend in a day but without the party. Work is the party right now. Today it was enough just to read a book, eat some olives, cook enough Bolognese for an army and put it in the freezer, look at lines, have one sided conversations with Pickle, play computer games, watch Rick and Morty reruns, and shut down. So I took the pressure off. After all it’s Sunday, so my quiet day actually coincides with the traditional Christian quiet day. Hallelujah.
I did spend a bit of time catching up on world news, which I immediately regretted. It’s hell out there. Portugal is on fire, Iran is butting heads with us, Bojo the clown is going to be head prefect and considering his record with Iran I’d be surprised if he’ll do well at solving the situation. Now he’s got the thing he burnt us all for, has he thought about what he is going to do with it?
It’s much more fun in Rick and Morty where you can shift between infinite worlds and find one that suits you. I was looking at New Zealand the other day, as a place where I might be ok with just dropping everything and moving to. I like the look of Jacinda Ardern as a leader. I’d follow her over that inward eyed dangerprat any day of the week. But maybe I just want a change of scene again. I’ll have to make the most of Oxford when I can. It’s a great town. I knew it better in my late teens than I do now – lots of my old haunts are gone for good or changed beyond recognition. But there are places steeped with ghosts of memories.
Ancient memories: The phone box where I used to ring my girlfriend every night, before I had a mobile phone. I’d be rinsing through BT phonecards by the dozen on those epic conversations or on expensive arguments. It’s still there, on the Banbury Road. We drove past it and somewhere just the other side of the sky that boy walked past with his flared jeans and his bright T-shirt. If I had a portal gun maybe I’d tell him a thing or two but I know he wouldn’t listen. He thought he knew it all.
There are also more recent memories, but just as compelling, from Spring 2012. The bookish smell of The Norrington Room where, in the company of dear friends, I learnt irreplaceable lessons about the power of letting go of the need to control everything. We improvised The Odyssey in there every night and it was the hardest thing most of us had ever done. We pulled together, had fun and when we listened we flew. The smell of the room though – it shoots into my sense memory, like the corridors at school or your mum’s perfume. It was a formative time, and those times get imprinted somewhere to be recalled with the smell. It’s why I get a different aftershave for all my characters. Scents – they change your brain.