Story by Neville Cole
I recently uncovered an old notebook; squirreled away for over thirty years. It contains some fine memories. For one, I was reminded that in my late teens and early twenties I listened to fine art as much as I looked at it. I wandered regularly into galleries and flipped often through Art books in those days. When I did, I usually jotted down things I heard the paintings say.
Here’s one of those ramblings…told to me by Edgar Degas’ Portrait of Duranty.
There are, I find, now periods of time – on occasion weeks in length – during which I am lost. Melancholy is a most peculiar infirmity: a wellspring of vague doubts that bubble up quietly at first but inevitably threaten to pour forth into an inferno of misery. My head aches. My ears ring incessantly. Tears press up behind my eyes and I rack my brain – my dammed rational brain – for a reason, for a clue, for an excuse.
And here’s the story Mr. Clark told as I listened to Hockney’s Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy.
Actually, the whole episode was rather painless. I drew up the papers myself; which is ironic as I had written our vows as well – the alpha and omega, as it were. My guess is it was never meant to be. We were too alike. There was no spark. It was all too damn comfortable. But, that’s past life now. Only Percy remains. Christine remarried within a year and, though I will confess I haven’t been a saint, I’ve spent most nights here alone… and most mornings too it’s just me with a cup of tea and Percy on my knee sitting at my window watching the city wake. Percy isn’t bothered all at, of course. My brother was right. He always told me: “Never get rid of a good cat.”
I’m still meandering through my old things – it’s something you do after you turn fifty, I guess – but I’m looking forward to digging up a few more memories. I can only hope I find something (anything) inside that isn’t positively dripping with teen angst.