Sunday, May 15

Bedtime Reading Update: Sherlock Holmes has just disappeared at the Reichenbach Falls, which has nothing to do with this post at all.

The phone rang early Saturday morning, and I was immediately concerned by its unexpectedness. My phone usually rings only in the early evening when someone in a call centre in India wants to talk to me about how I spell my name and what is my address and they have something they think I want to buy. I figured it was maybe an emergency, that perhaps a family pet had died, or there had been a meeting and I was being called, and not before time, into the bored room of Poetry World. (I may have spelt bored wrong.)

But it was Sam. She wanted to know if I was busy. I said I was rarely busy at 7:15 in the morning, unless I was at work, which I wasn’t. She failed to notice the irk lurking in my voice. I had been intending a marathon sleep, and I was only half the way through it. Sam said she was buying a second-hand computer off a friend of a bloke she knew, but didn’t know how to transport it from Hucknall to Hyson Green. Then she added that she wasn’t sure how she was going to transport herself from Hyson Green to Hucknall in the first place. Then she said she remembered I had a car and had offered to help her out any time she needed it. I could remember doing that, saying that. It was an evening when we were both a bit drunk. I could remember what I had meant, and I could remember that it hadn’t meant being woken up early in the morning. Not for this reason, anyway.

But, as it happens, I am kind and wise and immature beyond my years. So a little later in the morning we drove over to Hucknall. I hadn’t been to Hucknall for ages, not since I lived in nearby Newstead with a wife I used to be married to. I had forgotten how grim it is over there, how everyone looks down at heel, and with time on their hands. I had forgotten how unhappy I had been there, although it had been easy to fit in. The computer Sam was buying was a pretty good one. It looked brand new. The chap selling it looked like someone you would avoid if you met him. We didn’t hang around long; I said I had a funeral to go to and it would be awful to be late.

On the way back into town we stopped off at The Burnt Stump for lunch. It's next door, more or less, give or take a few trees, to Nottinghamshire Police Headquarters. Halfway through my vegetarian burger with a side salad and her egg mayo baguette Sam said she thought the computer was probably stolen, and did I mind we had a probably stolen computer on the backseat of my car, which was in the car park, which was next door, more or less, to Police Headquarters. I feigned nonchalance.

I helped Sam set up the computer in her flat. The one she’d been using had been useless for Broadband; she said she kept having to wind it up. There was a moment there when I thought we didn’t have enough cables, and I was terrified we would have to go back to Hucknall. Then I discovered we had more cables than we needed, and we spent some time seeing if there was anything else we could wire up. There wasn't.

Later, back at my place and comfortable in my romper suit, I remembered I’d gone out in the morning before the postman had been, so I went out into the communal hall to see if there was any mail for me. In among the junk for all the people who don't live here any more, there was. My friend Sharon in New York, or Brooklyn to be exact, had sent me her new book of prose, "In Ordinary Time". Sharon’s surname is Mesmer, and she is also a poet who I like loads. I wanted to read the book from cover to cover, there and then, but before I could do that the phone rang. I was immediately concerned that this time it was India.

It was Sam. She said did I know what a “.rar” file was. I said Yes, sadly I did. Then she said did I know what a “.flac” file was. Yes, and I was feeling sadder and more computer geekish by the moment. She asked me if I knew how the fuck to open them or make them do anything. I said Yes, I am perhaps one of the saddest people you know. She said did I think I could perhaps just possibly go over and help her sort one or two things out. I said Yes, but not tonight. She sounded a little disappointed, but (a) I was in my indoors clothes and (b) I had been to Hucknall and (c) I had a book I wanted to read from cover to cover because I suspected it would make me happy. Also I am immature beyond my years, which sometimes rules me out of doing some things I know I would enjoy once I got started.

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