Two pieces by John Rogers
I stop thinking about substances.
I have just bought a bacon baguette and a cup of tea, and I got a free Twix. There is turbulence and my tea has spilled a little. It is being soaked up by a paper napkin. I touch the hostess on the arm to get her attention. Her eyes seem surprised for less than one second, then she seems really focused on what I’m saying. I ask her for a top for my teacup. She says I already have a top for my teacup. I look at the small fold-down table in front of me, and I see a top for my teacup. I smile at the hostess, who has already looked away. I put the top on my teacup.
I squeeze a sachet of tomato sauce into the bacon baguette. I eat the bacon baguette. “I’m sorry I’m eating your flesh” I think, silently addressing the bacon in the bacon baguette.
I think about when I was in the outdoor hot tub at Sundhollin last night and there was a really loud child next to me and how I tried really hard not to seem disapproving.
I think about how there were loud mentally disabled young men in the changing rooms, and how I felt slightly scared of them because they seemed unpredictable. I think about how their carer must feel, and I wonder if it is emotionally tiring looking after them, and I wonder if he ever has to physically restrain them, and if they ever have ‘public episodes’. One of the young men seemed so confused by his locker that he made loud “wookie” sounds until his carer arrived to help him.
A father was dressing a little girl, and the young man seemed excited by this and wanted to communicate with them, but he failed.
I think about misophonia, and how tramadol maybe makes me even more sensitive to noise than normal.
Haukur, Hildur, Halli, Haukur again. Úlfur, another Úlfur, another Úlfur, Anna, another Anna, Ólöf, another Ólöf.
I think about the people I know in Iceland, and how they are people I would like to have more time with. I think about London, and how that sprawling city ‘of opportunity’ seems to hold so much less for me than little Reykjavík does. I think about how my life belongs in Iceland, and about how Iceland is my home. I think about how it seems weird to have a home that is a place I have never lived in. I think about the world “heartland”.
I finish my tea.
I ask the same hostess for another cup of hot water on her return trip down the airplane aisle. She gives it to me. I use the tea bag for a second cup of tea. I consider eating my free Twix but don’t.
I think about the Flybus ride to the airport earlier today, when it was dark, and I was thinking about Jónsi. At that time, I was thinking about his performance at Airwaves, and then his day to day life. I imagined him alone, wearing fingerless gloves and a lopypesa, holding a cup of steaming soup with both hands, in a small wooden house, in white daylight, thinking about something with that quizzical facial expression. I didn’t imagine what he was thinking about specifically. I wonder about Jónsi’s sex life briefly.
A girl near me drinks deeply from a water bottle. I watch her lips as she drinks and think about blowjobs. I think about whether writing about how a girl drinking from a bottle made me think of blowjobs will make me seem like a creep.
I think about honesty and writing, and if expressing myself in an unmediated way might have the downside of me feeling like I might be an objectionable person. I think about how some people I know seem to like me more because of my writing, and how some people I know seem to like me less because of my writing.
I think about whether I like myself more or less because of my writing, then decide that question is the wrong question.
During all these thoughts, I have a strong instinctive feeling that writing openly is in some way good and beneficial to me, and decide to think more about it later.
My eyes are tired and I think about sleeping. I think about sex. I think about friendship. I think about moss. I think about having sex on moss. I think about a dog barking and wagging his tail. I wonder where thoughts come from and then I think about the happy dog barking and running over moss.
I buy some train tickets back to London from the same hostess, who explains to me some things I only half understand about buses and platforms. Seems complicated. I wonder if it might have been easier to buy tickets on the ground.
Amy wakes up during the transaction and croaks “thank you” and then “are you writing something?” and I say “yes” then I smile and say “go back to sleep”. Amy goes back to sleep.
I watch a guy drinking a glass of red wine and laughing. I wonder if he’s a mechanic.
I think about open plains of yellow moss, mist and silhouetted volcano cones.
I think about standing on the moss yesterday, in the quiet rain, with P-C and Amy and Marte and a Polish girl called Dora, waiting for a car mechanic to come and save us during a hazardous wilderness hire-car breakdown. It was, I guess, our misfortune to be so stranded and hapless, soaked and freezing, but I miss that moment, and my heart aches a little.
I fall asleep and dream about driving at night, past a huge industrial building with yellow lights on it, then about the plane breaking apart, and whooping as I try to skydive to over a body of water so I survive. I dream that I don’t find water and that I crash through some tree branches, am impaled, and die.
I wake up.
We put our seat-backs in the locked and upright position, fasten our seatbelts, put the armrests down, fold away the tables and put our hand luggage under the seats in front of us.
We descend through the clouds, and England appears below.
There is grass and there are trees and fields.
There are no open plains of yellow moss.
I sigh and my back hurts.
I check I have all my personal possessions on me.
I leave the plane.
Staying in on new years eve is a habit of mine.
I’ve disliked it since I was old enough to go out.
Before then we’d watch TV in the family home,
and that was one thing,
With peanuts and brandy and a three piece suite,
Mum slipping off at eleven with kisses and smiles,
Dad hazily breaking open another dark ale.
Me and Pete could feel a world out there -
But we knew it was not our time yet.
Our time when it came was not all that;
In crowded halls with heaving bars I half-danced
amongst an army of estate agents:
Liam and David, Vicki and Caz, Martin and Steph,
whirling arm in arm to the Stone Roses.
I was most often found hiding in the bar queue
before sneaking out,
with the glow of my future for comfort.
The drug years suffered from shit drugs,
hours of street corner taxi-seeking
as comedowns came down;
The London years by an aversion to
going out at all.
So I tried something new,
a party for some friends
most of whom pulled out on Dec 30th.
Alice and I stayed in
but one friend showed up anyway,
And the three of us watched the fireworks of Hackney
from my attic window
In the end I planned a solo new year,
with a good film and a long book,
and as much food and wine as I might want.
I turned down invitations and shut the curtains tight,
Satisfied with my own company
Then a long walk in the bright morning.
I count this one as my biggest success.
When I fell in love,
it changed again.
Suddenly I was booking a four-poster room and a nine-course meal
in the gothic hotel that glowered over Robin Hood’s Bay.
We trained and taxied around Yorkshire and ate until we couldn’t,
then lay side by side,
me in my suit, and she in her lace and glitter.
At midnight we threw the windows open wide,
watched the fireworks blossom over the sea
and kissed a cinematic kiss among snowflakes.
In the morning we walked along the snowy beach
And talked about getting a dog one day.
The curse was lifted!
For a whole week until,
blind drunk and baleful,
she fucked someone else
and broke both our hearts/
I try not to let that tarnish the memory…
We spent one more together:
that pitiful couple who row in the street.
Now, new years eve is neither happy nor sad.
There are no new avoidance tactics and no new plans,
It’s just a night:
one easy hurdle before
this new year I’m promised.