Monday, April 13, 2009

Impossible Worlds by Windowless Consultant
My difficulty, I'd be the first to admit, no, proclaim, is separating the figment of my imagination from what's real. It's not only mine, of course, a pretty good criterion for a bigot being the belief you don't share the problem.
So when I first saw City Limits, I was puzzled:

Did the fact that another world was possible mean that this one was not? That is an opinion I have often held, but tenuously, privately. To see it proclaimed so publicly was puzzling. That the proclamation should be on this board, concealing what had long been part of the backdrop to what, for me, had been this world, to see this world boarded up as impossible was disconcerting, enticing, strange. I looked to see whether things around me had altered, but they hadn't. Perhaps things in the possible world wouldn't need to register the change. Or perhaps, in that little patch by the board, I was in the possible world looking out at the impossible one, which had yet to change.
Bishopsgate. Place names in the city have such historical weight they are heady with the kind of found charm of a stone by a country road, an aura of distance hanging about them, damp and musty behind their immediate presence. Sometimes you turn one over and recall the underside, wriggling with a life that eventually returns to the shadows as you forget all that's behind the word you use. Gate of Bishops; Bishopsgate. But the weight of the past can be a burden, too, however fascinating, you yourself as you slither through the streets a worm under cover of a stone. 
Today this was determined not to be Bishopsgate, though, in any usual sense, look as I would.
What I've been tracking, I've said, have been these moments when the contents of the windows are on the outside, the props everywhere, the sense of real things on the one hand, and unreal on the other somehow vanishes, replaced by something else which, by the time this blog has run its purpose, I hope to have described.
I have, at work and on my other, professional blog, presented the shop window as a suggestion for a life, a sentence beginning 'You, too'. The glass, the wall, the revolving doors, opening hours, security tags and cameras, the notes exchanged or pins punched before you leave, and, most importantly, all the trappings of the stage making sure the next word retains the hypothetical in 'could', the window, I have argued, maintains in life the qualities found in dream.
Turning onto Bishopsgate, the city itself was the proposition.
For an afternoon, I was unable to leave this little stretch of road I'd known so well.
I remembered the disaster, imminent in the Soho cafe, on Broadway Market, London Bridge. The disaster here had happened and been averted. I was dead again, and alive. This was Bishopsgate, but, not as I knew it, it was not.

In this world a bus stop was a banner a family had a picnic on for change, or a bicycle was driving other people, via a sound system it powered - a grinning girl - so they danced. Interesting was a group of meditators. What is Kirtana? You are teaching your mind, you are teaching your ear, what you are saying with you vocal cord. What is that? To take His name, and not so many names - London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Santiago. Certainly this was not the Bishopsgate, the Liverpool Street we knew. Vague as it may have appeared, this place where they were instead, photographers believed in it enough to be tangling very real feet for a shot while it was there. 
That's where I stopped. With no time quite to finish, had to go - left the country for a week with the husband. Researching alternative retail environments a great excuse for ventures overseas.
What I would have added mention of was the frame, yellow and black, awaiting its moment to restore the impossible. In the theatre of that life, the police were the proscenium. Looking back at the photographs as I upload them, I envision myself for a moment on a stage, with the audience, taking shots of the surrounding empty seats. 
Given the nature of the frame, that the shocking - that to bring the curtain down that evening should mean clobbering a man to death - should seem, on retrospect, hardly surprising, was a brutal reiteration of the impossible.
On the following day, the scene was still worth recording, the walls an impromptu account for passers by and boarded statue improvised a cenotaph.

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