I went for dinner with an old school friend last night.
Actually I walked out to her farm after spending most of the day glued to this chair transcribing one interview. We a had a great time -and I'm incredibly glad to not be spending our time rehearsing in the EASTER Choir for all the catholic masses that are probably happening this weekend. Her brother in law had givne up beer for lent - but he still ahd some of my friend's husband's wine. It was nice.
Interview transcription is insanely tedius.One hours conversation takes about six hours to transcribe. This is hell. Now I know why oral history is a largely ignored phenomenon. Its such damn hard work, and where do I get the kudos - the big name intellectual credibility from rocking up to people and asking them fairly basic questions? and unlike books, you cna't flip to the right bit you wanna read, and people RARELY answer a questions straight, and andyway - that's not the point of using qualitative mehtodologies. I'm meant to let epopel go around and around and meander, and approach things obliquely.
but its so much work, so slow, and I still dunno how the hell I'm going to right the write sort of tome. (btw I'm punning there). Still want to interview lots more people, wanna find out lots more stuff.
I reckon Simon Le Bon offered the best description of a PhD "I'm on a ride and I wanna get off, but they won't slow down the roundabout". Actually I don't really wanna get off the ride, I'm on a ride, and I do wanna get off, and I do spend a fair amount of time masturbating (it clears my head, promise!), and maybe as a result everything feels like a crazy whirl.
I still haven't writtent to Abel's parents.
the thought of it, makes transcription look like a breeze. I mean what do I write?
(imagine the below in quite bad french with dodgy spelling and all the accents in the wrong place)
To the dear person who I have considered my mother in law for the past 5 years, and my edgy and awkward but otherwise extremly sweet father inlaw.
(well OK the nearest we came to being married - was that christmas day that we dressed up in wedding outfits and ran around all the kitsch tourist monuments and took photos - and of course the cult ceremony we had in Aastralia - where we dipped cocktail sausages in each other's blood. And I know marriage is a fairly vile institution that I don't actualy aspire to, but I don'tknow how esle to describe you as me second family, without using the temrs of 'in-laws', so let me appropriate it.)
Thank you so much for the teatowel that you sent to my mother. I brought it to her this week and she appreciated both very much and sends her warmest thanks and regards to you both.
I am staying with my mother because I cannot stay in my house at the moment. Your daughter has mashed my heart through a cheese grater and doesn't seem to give a shit. In fact, her friend Jenny (who you thought was a bitch and how I wish I'd listened to you) is actually her lover and the object of her infatuation. I don't know when this started, but since I have returned from finland she has made no attempt to hide this painful fact from me. Until one month ago I regarded your daughter as the love of my life and imagined spending the rest of my life with her, so as you would imagine this has come as a bit of a shock. In english we'd call this a kick in the testicles, but as you are probably aware I do not have testicles. It does feel liek a kick in the guts. You will be pleased to hear that I lost 10 kilograms in the past month from the sheer emotional trauma associated with this cataclysm. Unfortunately it is unlikely that you will profit from the aesthetic comfort of viewing me in my svelter frame, and I hope my digestive sydstem will reutrn to normal functioning as soon as possible.
Although she envisaged cohabiting with me for the next two years, while conducting a passionate affair with another woman and even inviting her to stay in her home, I have asked your daughter to move to another house. I hope you do not find this callous, but I really feel I have no other choice. She is in fact returning to France for the July vacation, however I fear that you are not the main reason for her return and doubt if you will see a great deal of her, if her corresopndence and phone calls are anything to go by. Generally I am not a fan of catholicism, but I was wondering if her atheist upbringing had something to do with her moral vacuuity. Maybe there are some aspect sof french cultulre that are impenetrable to anglo saxons. We have a word, that is simliar to the french word for 'get out of my way', and it is used generally to accept responsibility for the bad things that come from our actions, whether they are intentional or not. It is a way of acknolwedgeing the suffering of others and expressing regret for one's involvement in that suffering. using this word usually means that you accept responsibility for trying to make amends for the hurt that you may cause someone and modifying your own behaviour that causes such hurt. Even though our Prime Minister is incapable of using this word, it is something that many poeple in my country do like to use and act upon.
Still I am trying very hard not to be bitter. Even though I don't think I can bear to look at your daughters face for the next six months, I would like in the long term to remain friends with your family. You have all given me so much and I have so many fond memories of you all, and I would hope that we can maintain some sort of regular contact. Especially since I left so many clothes and books and paints behind and I'd like somehow to collect them. Especially the fake fur coat and my Sarah Waters novels. Possibly in time, I may come to forgive your daughter and even wish her well with that ridiculous manipulative alcoholic fickel pretentious old bat that she has spurned me for, all the more so, if she repents and comes grovelling to me wearing nothing but a large amount of your taramasalata. Then, perhaps after a crazed session of make-up sex, I could tell her that I have met the woman if my dreams, and that I would always like to consider her as a dear friend, but nothing more. (I haven't met the woman of my dreams - but if you think I'd take your daughter back - you've gotta be bloody kidding - and besides she deserves some of her own medicine). Maybe this is too much information and I'm sorry if this pains you. at least I've been tactful enough to conceal her alcoholism, because I know how much that would pain you, but really if you could get her into rehab, it might help, but I'm not sure if they have that sort of thing in France.
Anyway, I guess for now this is au revoir. If you ever want to visit this shithole of a country full of cockroaches and mosqitoes and profoundly ignorant rugby freaks, then you are most welcome to stay at both my and my mothers house. This includes everyone in your extended family, who I consider as my own family. Except in the case of a natural disaster, this doesn't include your daughter or any of her paramours. I will always remember and think of all of you with much love, affection and regret that things could not have worked out differently.
OF COURSE I'M NOT BLOOODY SERIOUS!!! but - you get my drift with awkward ambivalent pain. I wonder about the future, about the wall between abel and I. I wonder if I'll ever get my johnny cash CD's back, or that piece of fabric from my friend Steve's wife Jill. I guess the Satie CD's Abel has reclaimed - like the cognac she gave me. And I wonder about all the other shit I left at her parents, and the art materials we were meant to share, and, I've got all the photos, but what about one of the Textaqueen playing card packs? there's a few of my books in her room too - like a Sontag novel, and Pred's hard copy diaries. And how wonder how long it will take before my french is as crap as my spanish, and if I'll ever paint again. Abel is completely capable of never speaking to me ever again, so it will be me who does all the work (comme d'hab) if I ever want anything to do with her again.
please let me get it right next time
please let me find the right girl and keep her. don't let her be a piss head or some emotional crippple or someone incapable of communicating or washing their own clothes. don't let her talk aobut astrology or be a LOTL subscriber.
Help me get over this particular emotional abortion sufficiently so I don't fuck up any more relationships or push someone away. Please don't let me become anymore of an emotional basketcase than I already am. PLease let abel fuck off gently and have a great life far away from me, and maybe grow up enough so that she makes some gesture of adult friendship when the time is right. don't let me die of a broken heart in the meantime. give me the strength to write and to paint and to become passionate and wise and not some bitter freak whose emotional life shrivelled at 35.
the twatface in the corner
Nov 11: Giving a reading at Naked Heart Festival
2 weeks ago