Tuesday 12 April 2011

Kitting Together II

t's been such a long time since I last wrote anything here. Life has moved very fast recently: days, weeks, months have passed and every so often I've thought, I really must do something about my blog. But I haven't really wanted to do anything about it, that is, there's been nothing that I've wanted to say in public. Publishing anything here is of course a much louder way of saying it than writing it in one of my notebooks and sometimes I'd rather keep my counsel.

So, to continue on the subject of collaborative work, last Thursday Terri and I met at Charing Cross station. She took me to the British Library and we spent some hours together sitting in the courtyard, planning our joint paper on abandoned houses for a conference at the Courtauld in early June. It was a hot day and we were tired, but we soon found inspiration, nurturing Terri's brilliant little seedling idea with tea and sunlight. We came away with ideas to expand and we have lots of homework and quite a task ahead, but at least we now have a strong idea of the themes we will explore.

After leaving the B L we headed north, catching the tube to Woodside Park and walking along the stream to Terri's house. It's was a beautiful stroll: one of those London walks to bring cheer to any rural-dweller's heart. I seldom go up to London these days and whenever I do I find it exciting and stimulating, but also chaotic and a little scary. I no longer know how to cross busy roads. Either I stand at the edge, waiting for silence and space while everyone else is striding confidently between traffic, or else I fling myself into the paths of lorries and get beeped or shouted at. Several times on Thursday Terri had to hold me back or help me along and we were constantly leaping, hand in hand, off the curbs and into danger.

So we walked together beside the stream through Woodside Park and into Finchley, stopping to pick wild garlic, to watch a black Labrador swimming in a pool and to admire the allotments. We talked about poetry, novels, Terri's thesis, my work. We shared ideas, worries, opinions, scrapes.

I left Terri, her boyfriend Neil and Leslie, their cat, early the next morning. I felt lonely without them and missed Terri's company on the long tube ride back to Charing Cross. I watched the moments of contact between strangers: a young guy who picked up the pages that fell out of the magazine a woman was reading and handed them back to her; one man who asked another to pass a spare newspaper. These small exchanges were delicate, hesitant, but they were also warm and full of significance, all the more so perhaps for their rarity. It seems we can't help being kind to one another, making contact, sharing something of ourselves, however small.