memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

I am out of sorts, out of countenance, pissed off, seriously displeased, seething with anger, incandescent with rage. (I’m rather annoyed today).

So I take up my pencil, switch on the automatic pilot and start drawing (the usual stuff that these days I could do in my sleep) and continue to brood.

STAGE 1

At seven o’clock sharp I wheel into the dining-room and manoeuvre myself laboriously in front of my table to find a covered plate of cooling soup and the dried splat of a squashed stewed apple for pudding already laid out at my place. The room is tense and impatient with time-table fever; time-to-shift-this-lot-as-fast-as-possible-and-then-I’m-out-of-here; a time to live and a time do die. It’s seriously noisy too, with the angry bark of admonition syncopated with the querulous whine of imprecation.

I open my Proust.

STAGE 2

It is 7.20 and this team really means business – these are the heavies, the sturm und drang of the place:

–          Can I go to the bathroom?

–          You’ve got a nappy on haven’t you? Well use it! Can’t you see we’re busy!

One of them is already clearing away all the dishes and dirty napkins and uneaten food etc. (the trolley rattling & rolling deafeningly between the tables with the clashing of plates here and the banging of cutlery there and the little rollers screeching in protest). The other two are busy loading old people into their wheel-chairs and whizzing them out into the entrance hall and parking them in front of the elevator with such a breath-taking haste that I (still wandering along the lanes of Proust’s childhood) am left amazed.

STAGE 3

You’re BAD!

Sorry,

 Sorry for being a bit senile,

Sorry for having Dementia,

Sorry for having Alzheimer’s

Sorry for dying.

STAGE 4

It’s 7.35 and quiet reigns in the dining room. Well that was quite a blast, I think and turn my attention back to Remembrance of Things Past.

At 7.50 I decide to wheel up to my room to catch the 8.00 news; as I leave I am surprised to see nine silent old people still in front of the elevator door, still waiting in the twilight.

(Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the night).

STAGE 5

Now what have we here? For the eye, the cool colours of symmetry and control, for the intellect, a dash of gender ambiguity and all around the flaming incandescent vermillion red of rage and frustration.

ANDROGYNOUS BUTTERFLY (Larus Macedi) – PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

V. WHAT THE THUNDER SAID

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces

After the frosty silence in the gardens

After the agony in stony places

The shouting and the crying

Prison and palace and reverberation

Of thunder of spring over distant mountains

He who was living is now dead

We who were living are now dying

With a little patience.

(From The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot)

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