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'What a time you've been, Norah,' grumbled the old lady.
‘It’s only just turned the half-hour, Madam,’ said Norah in a special voice, bright and cheerful like the nurse. I wondered if Maxim’s grandmother realised that people spoke to her in this way. I wondered when they had done so for the first time, and if she had noticed then. Perhaps she had said to herself, ‘They think I’m getting old, how very ridiculous,’ and then little by little she had become accustomed to it, and now it was as though they had always done so, it was part of her background.
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Maxim’s grandmother suffered her in patience. She closed her eyes as though she too were tired. She looked more like Maxim than ever. I knew how she must have looked when she was young, tall and handsome… That was all finished now for her, all gone. Her husband had been dead for forty years, her son for fifteen. She had to live in this bright red gabled house with the nurse until it was time for her to die. I thought how little we know about the feelings of old people. Children we understand, their fears and hopes and make-believe. I was a child yesterday. I had not forgotten. But Maxim’s grandmother, sitting there in her shawl with her poor blind eyes, what was she thinking? Did she know that Beatrice was yawning and glancing at her watch? Did she guess that we had come to visit her because we felt it right, it was a duty, so that when she got home afterwards Beatrice would be able to say ‘Well, that clears my conscience for three months’?
Did she ever think about Manderley? Did she remember sitting at the dining-room table, where I sat? Did she too have tea under the chestnut tree? Or was it all forgotten and laid aside, and was there nothing left behind that calm, pale face of hers but little aches and strange discomforts, a blurred thankfulness when the sun shone, a tremor when the wind blew cold?
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We’re running on nothing,
the fumes of our dreams,
at another point in my life, that was good enough for me.
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I wanted to go on sitting there, not talking, not listening to the others, keeping the moment precious for all time, because we were peaceful, all of us, we were content and drowsy even as the bee who droned above our heads. In a little while it would be different, there would come tomorrow, and the next day, and another year. And we would be changed perhaps, never sitting quite like this again. Some of us would go away, or suffer, or die; the future stretched away in front of us, unknown, unseen, not perhaps what we wanted, not what we planned. This moment was safe though, this could not be touched. Here we sat together, Maxim and I, hand-in-hand, and the past and the future mattered not at all. This was secure, this funny fragment of time he would never remember, never think about again. He would not hold it sacred; he was talking about cutting away some of the undergrowth in the drive, and Beatrice agreed, interrupting with some suggestion of her own, and throwing a piece of grass at Giles at the same time. For them it was just after lunch, quarter past three on a haphazard afternoon, like any hour, like any day. They did not want to hold it close, imprisoned and secure, as I did. They were not afraid.
September Girls - Sister; from the debut album, Cursing The Sea.
Directed by Neil O’Driscoll
Some of the special effects on this are kind of embarrassing, but whatever, they play perfect music and I will be seeing them in a few weeks and you should be jealous.
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She smiled, and pinched my arm, and I thought about being placid, how quiet and comfortable it sounded, someone with knitting on her lap, with calm unruffled brow. Someone who was never anxious, never tortured by doubt and indecision, someone who never stood as I did, hopeful, eager, frightened, tearing at bitten nails, uncertain which way to go, what star to follow.
This is so perfect in its utter terribleness.
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I try to avoid the news as much as I can. The kind of anger it produces – an anger that cannot possibly materialise the desire for which it stands – is ultimately just a corrosive, melting away whatever hope one has for the world. The position I take is one of informed apathy: I know what sort of thing is likely to happen, I can do without the details. Of course the cops break the law, they’re a gang of thugs hired by the State to keep order. What do you expect? Of course politicians lie and CEOs line their pockets while impoverishing society. That’s what they do. And if you cut one down, there’s ten more to take their place. And, of course, the discussion in the ‘free press’ circles round and round the absent signifier of structural causation – like those little horses on a merry-go-round – individualising blame, producing and directing anger towards those who – whatever the ethics of their personal choices – are ultimately only carriers for their social function. If this particular pseudo-controversy manages to depose the Garda Commissioner he’ll be replaced by another fucking cop. You can skim a layer of shit off the top of the tank, but there’s always more lurking in the depths waiting to float to the top. Some victory.
What should be obvious, but somehow isn’t, is that ‘popular anger’ is not some primordial force entering politics from the outside: it’s actively produced by the political conjuncture. We’re invoked to be angry here and not there, in this way and not that, at this individual and not this structure, and to consume our own anger through the mediation of the press in ways that are never allowed to amount to a meaningful collective challenge to power.
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