|Come round, won't you?|
Monday, January 26, 2004
Grosvenor had a history of difficulty in buffet situations. He dreamed of an archetypical scenario, involving a lavish spread that he did not manage to sample to his satisfaction because of a timidity on his part to take what he wanted. The dream didn't really need much analysis. He reflected on how he sometimes overcompensated at buffets these days by taking more than was deemed socially acceptable, though not to the extent of depriving others. More notable was his tendency to want to try a little of everything.
Saturday, January 24, 2004
"It is better to have lived one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep," read the slip of paper in the fortune cookie that Grosvenor had just eaten. He used it to poke fun at Zanthe; she had been born in the Chinese year of the Sheep. What she didn't know was that "Tiger" was Juliet's nickname for him. He felt a surge of superstition. Was someone trying to tell him something?
The week had been particularly eventful for Grosvenor. He was all worked up, and felt that he could surf on a tide of adrenaline into Zanthe's arms. I'll kiss her today, he thought to himself. He gave her a comradely pat on the arm as they parted that evening.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Grosvenor returned to his home to discover that it had been burgled. The thieves had left a number of valuables that were either in plain view or kept in non-secure places. Grosvenor had never been tidy, and tended to keep his possessions in disarray, which seemed to have put off the burglars to an extent. In some cases, a couple of sheets of paper laid on top of certain iterms had been enough to prevent the intruders from noticing them, but as they hadn't thought to look there, they might as well as have been buried in the depths of the earth.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
"Zanthe's been trying to be nice to me," said Mahmud over the 'phone. "But it's only because my father just died. Why she couldn't have been like that before that, I don't know." Grosvenor thought this was unfair, that Mahmud had deliberately kept Zanthe at arm's length over the time he had known her, but despite the temptation to say something, he kept it to himself. Perhaps he would bring it up another time.
It disconcerted him when two people that he was fond of did not like each other, a situation he had encountered a number of times over the past few weeks. He had realised how little interest he took in the relationships that the people he knew had with one another, to the point of being oblivious to things that were otherwise common knowledge in the groups he circulated in. He had been taking a little more notice since then. Then again, he thought, he might be better off as he had been before; it certainly made things simpler not getting involved in the soap opera he saw around him, but it might mean missing out in some ways.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
"We had quite a good conversation," said Zanthe, referring to the talk she'd had with Mahmud about the recent death of his father. Grosvenor remembered that she had told him of previous attempts to talk to Mahmud, which had tended to fall short of her aims.
Zanthe was very sweet really, thought Grosvenor, even though she had quite an acerbic persona that could be off-putting at times. Her hair was tied back, with stray locks straggling down the sides of her face. When she wore her hair down, he burned with desire for every inch of her, but like this, his lustful feelings dwindled to a minimal level. Pehaps it was shallow of him, but at least it confirmed that he didn't spend time with her purely out of physical attraction.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
"Don't you find that London is a hard place to have a relationship?" asked Donovan. He had recently been employed as one of Grosvenor's colleagues, and they had shared several conversations that delved beneath the superficial. The difficulty he had with communicating with people at a deeper level had been on Grosvenor's mind lately, and he felt that this was a sign of progress.
Donovan's question made him baulk, though. What was he going to say? That he had never been in a relationship at the age of thirty? That might be too much too soon. He was happy for other people to tell him their innermost thoughts, but not as comfortable with sharing his own. He evaded the question by reflecting it back; people often asked questions like that because they wanted to answer them themselves anyway.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
"I must have told you about it before," said Zanthe.
"No, you didn't," said Grosvenor, "but you're going to now."
Apparently, Zanthe had a stalker of sorts. Some guy she had given her number to for a practical reason years ago, who still sent her texts professing his love for her.
"She's talking about me, isn't she?" thought Grosvenor to himself irrationally, although he had not in fact been stalking her.
He remembered how in school, when the headmistress had been giving out a telling off in assembly, he always felt as if she was speaking directly to him, even if he had nothing to do with the transgressions she was talking about. One time, when she ordered two boys next to him to leave the hall for flicking stamps at each other, he had been so convinced that she meant him that he got up and left as well.
Grosvenor asked Zanthe a few more questions about the man who had been texting her. She told him that he was a few years younger than her (which definitely counted Grosvenor out). Grosvenor thought his behaviour was strange, but he remembered that when he had been that age, or a little younger, he had been obsessed with a woman himself. Although he had been painfully lacking in self-awareness then, he had known well enough to contain the situation sufficiently so that it had only harmed himself. Still, his behaviour had been odd enough to destroy the friendship he'd once had with this woman. At least he had changed enough since then to see how absurdly he had behaved, and to keep his feelings in check. And even though he was tempted to identify with Zanthe's stalker, he reminded himself that he was no longer the person that he was all those years ago, and that he was not sentenced to repeat the patterns of the past.
"Do you line-dance?" he asked Zanthe.
Monday, January 05, 2004
It was the first time that Grosvenor had been physically attacked in public by an adult. There was one time, years ago, when he was struck by a delinquent eight-year-old girl in the train station, which had been thoroughly humiliating, largely because he hadn't had any idea as to how to respond. The knock to his self-esteem was more painful than the blow itself, which was probably why he had always disliked running into gangs of kids, who were unlikely to hurt him physically. A verbal confrontation seemed just as threatening, if not more so. This was a rather skewed perspective, thought Grosvenor. The "danger" existed only in his perception, which was something that he could alter.
On this occasion, Grosvenor had been walking down a side-street some time after eleven, humming and whistling to himself. He was vaguely aware of a woman, who seemed to be speaking to a couple of homeless people huddled against a wall. As he walked away, he realised that the woman was a transvestite man, and was talking to him, touting for prostitutes. Irritated at being ignored, he ran up behind Grosvenor.
"Hello, can you hear me?" said the tout, grabbing the hood of Grosvenor's coat and pulling him back. Grosvenor told him to get off him.
"He heard you," said one of the homeless people.
"Then answer me," said the tout, striking Grosvenor with a kind of overarm slap, which largely missed his face, and glanced off his shoulder. Grosvenor walked away without saying anything more. Being assaulted was something that he thought would have been terrifying, but the encounter had been so ridiculous that he found it hard to be upset. He made a note that everyone, even street solicitors, likes to be acknowledged.
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Grosvenor listened with interest as the man next to him on the night bus told him how he had been a juvenile delinquent and had spent time in prison, but had since altered his lifestyle to incorporate a sense of conscience and morality that had been missing in his youth. But his fascination turned to disappointment when his fellow passenger started talking in earnest about his Christian faith. It seemed to him that whenever he heard tales of wayward people "made good", religion always appeared as the decisive factor which brought about change. He longed to hear of someone who had changed their lives based on their own will, rather than what he saw as simple-minded superstition.
"The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom," preached the man to Grosvenor, who found the assertion too simplistic for words. He couldn't help feeling that the man had started talking to him because he felt it was his Christian duty to, rather than out of friendliness. Later, he read a Buddhist point of view on the internet that said that "The beginning of wisdom is 'I don't know'," which he found more acceptable.
Friday, January 02, 2004
"I'll call you when I get back," said Zanthe, speaking from her mother's house. Grosvenor would have preferred it if she had said nothing about calling him, because when she did, it only reminded him that she would not in fact be calling. He wondered why she persisted in giving out such platitudes. He presumed that it had something to do with wanting to be liked.
Later, Zanthe's name came up when Gerald, whom Grosvenor had decided to visit at work, complained about her coming back to the office after nights out to take drugs. Grosvenor had long known about her prediliction for hallucinogenics, but he still felt deeply uncomfortable when hearing about specific episodes. It was probably something to do with his highly conservative upbringing. He was caught somewhere between either feeling guilty about being overly sanctimonious, or self-righteous about having high standards of behaviour, whatever that meant. He thought about how big a part recreational chemicals played in the lives of those around him whereas he didn't even drink, and remained undecided about whether he or they were in a better position.
Over dinner, Gerald talked about Mahmud, whom Grosvenor considered to be a close friend, although he hadn't seen him for a while. Like many other people, Gerald thought that Mahmud was borderline psychotic, constantly telling tall tales and believing his own lies. Grosvenor did not hold this point of view, because of the closeness that he and Mahmud shared. Mahmud had told him that he deliberately confused people to keep them at bay, but at times it did seem that he was putting on an act even to Grosvenor.
Grosvenor wondered if he was being naive and overlooking the obvious, or at least what was obvious to everyone else. He had made the same error before, which had resulted in a business project going wrong. He had defended his partners and remained optimistic about them even when almost everyone he had spoken to had expressed scepticism about whether they could get the job done. Eventually, they were proved right, and a lot of time had been wasted.
Gerald told Grosvenor that in the past he himself had been the first to jump to Mahmud's defence when he was being criticised by others, but that he had come to agree with them. Grosvenor tried to talk objectively about him, taking on board some of Gerald's observations, but felt a little treacherous doing so. Gerald mentioned that Mahmud's father had had a heart attack earlier that day.